Vanessa Redgrave celebrates her 83rd birthday on January 30, 2020. The Oscar, Emmy and Tony award-winning actress has starred in dozens of films over several decades, but how many of those titles are classics? In honor of her birthday, let’s take a look back at 15 of her greatest movies, ranked worst to best.
Born in 1937, Redgrave was almost destined to become a performer: her parents were Sir Michael Redgrave and Lady Redgrave (Rachel Kempson), her siblings were Lynn Redgrave and Corin Redgrave, her daughters are Joely Richardson and the late Natasha Richardson, and her son-in-law is Liam Neeson. So when it comes to the Redgraves, acting definitely runs in the family.
Redgrave earned her first Oscar nomination in 1966: Best Actress for “Morgan! A Suitable Case for Treatment.” (Interestingly enough, she competed against her sister, Lynn, for her performance in “Georgy Girl.”) She won 11 years later as Best Supporting Actress for “Julia” (1977) and competed four more times (lead for “Isadora” in 1968, “Mary, Queen of Scots” in 1971, and “The Bostonians” in 1984; supporting for “Howards End” in 1992).
Unfortunately, her Oscar victory is best remembered for her controversial acceptance speech than for the performance itself: the Jewish Defense League protested her nomination because of her involvement in “The Palestinian” (1977), a documentary supporting a Palestinian state. As protestors picketed the ceremony, the actress praised the Academy for having “refused to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums, whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world and to their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression.”
On the TV side, Redgrave earned Emmys for her roles in “Playing for Time” (Best Movie/Mini Actress in 1981) and “If These Walls Could Talk 2” (Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress in 2000). She won a Tony in 2003 as Best Actress in a Play for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” and considering she’s still active, there’s still time to record a spoken word album and complete the EGOT with a Grammy.
Tour our gallery of Redgrave’s 15 greatest films, including a few titles for which she should’ve received Oscar nominations.