This is where the important part begins. The part about the lovers...
William Hurt was named Best Actor @ Cannes and by Oscar, NBR, LAFCA & BAFTA votersLovers of actresses & cinema for our purposes today.
For the entire first reel (and then some) of Kiss of the Spider Woman, William Hurt's "Molina" tries to monologue his way through memories of a favorite film. He loves to perform but his cell mate "Valentin" (Raul Julia) never lets him get lost in his speechifying the way he plans to, continually interrupting him with requests, jokes, corrections and commentary. And so begins an odd couple film that wraps political idealogy, cinematic obsessions, and sexual identity into a memorable actor's duet with as much theatricality as Molina himself wraps his head while daydreaming of his favorite screen diva (Sonia Braga).
The Kiss of the Spider Woman was a best picture nominee for 1985. The other shortlisters were more traditional fare: a beloved novel adaptation The Color Purple, the romantic epic Out of Africa, the mafia black comedy Prizzi's Honor, and the contemporary hit drama Witness. Kiss... has since been the hardest film for younger Oscar completists to see but a 2 disc collectors edition is now out and I have four copies to give away, one for each of its nominations. But before I announce the winners (drawn randomly) I wanted to share some really fun contest entries. I asked contestants to throw a headwrap on and make like Molina, obsessing over a favorite actress/performance in their imaginary prison cell. Some of them even sent photos --can I just say that TFE readers are so awesome to play along!
Originally I was going to post my favorite entries but there were so many that I decided I had to limit the 'extra' sharing to the entries that came in with photos ;) The following contestants did not win the random drawing but but they are so awesome for playing along...
<--- Jonathan from NY
Meryl Streep. Sophie's Choice. Cliched? Perhaps. But can the others recite word for word, facial tic and intonation down pat, the scene where she struggles to tell Stingo about being sent to Auschwitz? Or what about that accent? And she's never been more sexually charged in a film. Best performance by any actor (that I've seen but no, I'm just going to say it, EVER) in history. Streep at her streepiest, and I've loved every 20+ viewings of it. Whoever's in that jail cell better know what I'm talking about when I reference the famous silent scream in the climactic scene, or else they'll be getting an earful.....Brian in New Mexico --->
I would likely develop, and discuss at length, whose marvelous powers I most wished to possess on any given prison day. Would I want to channel Sissy Spacek's Carrie White and her telekinetic grudge match powers? Or would it Rita Moreno's Anita and her ability to deliver a scathing insult as though it was a love pat? Or would it be Meryl Streep's dexterity in self-transformation that I would covet? (Of course, on really bad days, I would likely pretend to be Hope Emerson and leave it at that...)<--- JS in the Philippines
Anyone in prison would have to learn and emulate the virtues of Glenn Close's performance in Dangerous Liaisons because like her, you'd be in a similar environment where you would have to practice detachment, learn how to listen and deceive all in service of devising means of escape no one had ever thought of before. It's "win or die." :)Mark in Manchester --->
I could have gone the easy route and picked Sigourney in Aliens but if I shared a cell i'd obsess over Brooke Smith as Sonya in Vanya on 42nd Street. I only saw this performance recently and was so moved we could act out her final monologue scene with the cellmate as Wallace Shawn.<--- Cenzig in Florida
Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles. She oozes that Fosse sexuality that we all know and love. She captures our attention with "Divine decadence darling!" and holds it, even through the tears during "Cabaret" You root for her. You know the mess that is about to be WWII and you want her out, to live with Brian in delicious sin. She's Fun. She's Fabulous. She's Fucking Sally Bowles!!!You know who is fun and fabulous? Everyone who entered this contest!
For those that didn't win or haven't seen the film, catch up on a little 80s Oscar lore by seeking it out now that it's available again for home viewing.
[drum roll please]
And the winners are...
Nick in Connecticut
I would talk with my cellie about Salma Hayek in Desperado, because, while the film isn't a masterpiece, she was INCREDIBLY sexy in that film. The way Rodriguez lit her, and her willingness to take part in that steamy love scene with Antonio, set my pulse racing as a 15 year old action-movie junkie. She's still one of the hottest women ever to grace the silver screen, and the way she looks in Desperado is the sort of thing that dreams are made of. Those sun-dresses, that long, wavy hair, her accent, her curves… man-o-man what a stunning creature she is.Ben in Los Angeles
Naomi Watts in Mulholland Dr, hands down. You get two characters to talk about individually, and then you get to talk about the two together. Plus, you can obsess over how overlooked she was in terms of bling for the mantle - no Oscar? Psh!Dennis in Wisconsin
If I had to go with one performance, it would be Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind. That movie had such an impact on me when I first saw it at 12 years old. She rocked my world! I could talk about Scarlett/Vivien for days.Chuck in Kentucky
Maria Falconetti. Perhaps it is unfair to choose an actress who appeared only in one film. Yet I believe that Falconetti's performance in Dreyer's seminal The Passion of Joan of Arc goes beyond a mere cineast obsession, and can be viewed instead as a sort of religious longing, a desire for emancipation, a devotion to something intangible and ethereal. Falconetti's struggle would be my own, and the haunting memory of her performance would move me more than any other celluloid creation. My memory of those tortured eyes would no doubt provide the sort of spiritual solace only found in prayer; she would be the single slash of light that cuts through the coagulating and ever-present darkness.I hope you enjoyed reading about these personal cinematic obsessions as much as I did. And while we're on the subject of Kiss of the Spider Woman... you can check out my vague recollection of my favorites in 1985 If you have any thoughts to share on that 1985 Best Picture race, do so in the comments. Out of Africa, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Prizzi's Honor, The Color Purple or Witness? How many have you seen and what's your choice for "Best" ?