Friday, June 26, 2009

Streep Noms, #6 (1985)

A Note: I will be returning to reviewing Streep movies soon but for now let's return to discussing Streep's competitive Oscar fields. I'll try to wrap up the 80s pictures very soon. I knew this month would be Streep heavy I had no idea how mired down in the 80s nostalgia we'd get. See also: Farrah & Michael Jackson.

Six Oscar nominations is a lot for anyone but what is perhaps even more impressive / serendipitous about Meryl Streep's 1985 accomplishment is that Out of Africa, a big hit and Oscar champ, was her third Best Picture winner in seven years. That's quite rare. She would go on to lose Best Actress to Geraldine Page who was, at that time, the most nominated performer (8) never to have won the golden boy (Peter O'Toole now holds the record since he lost on his 8th nomination). Page died a scant 15 months later at 62 years of age. She is one of only five women in the history of the Oscars to have won this prize after the age of 60, the most recent being Helen Mirren in The Queen. I've been meaning to write about Ms. Page for two years now. Really must get to that soon.

To this day I have never seen Geraldine Page's Oscar winning performance though my best friend considers it one of the most moving he's ever seen. I think Page is spectacularly good in Sweet Bird of Youth and Interiors and terrible in Summer and Smoke (her three other Best Leading Actress nominations) so I'm curious. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. At the time I wanted Meryl to win. Now, my heart unquestionably belongs to Mia Farrow in The Purple Rose of Cairo for 85's gold medal.

the nominees were...
  • Anne Bancroft, Agnes of God
  • Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple (Globe winner)
  • Jessica Lange, Sweet Dreams
  • Geraldine Page, The Trip to Bountiful (watch her win)
  • Meryl Streep, Out of Africa
More '85 Ladies for context: There were many snubs since it was a rich year for leading ladies but only two snubs if you go by media attention and awards traction. Kathleen Turner won the comedy Globe for Best Picture nominee Prizzi's Honor but went on to experience her third high profile Oscar snub in the first five meteoric years of her career (the Academy never loved her though audiences instantly did). The other snub was Cher in Mask, which prompted her famous confrontational quip at the actual ceremony
As you can see, I did receive my Academy handbook on how to dress like a serious actress
But snubs are often blessings in disguise. The Mask diss probably helped Cher win for Moonstruck in 1987 (we'll get to 1987 next week).

1985 also featured Norma Aleandro in The Official Story (a foreign hit and she was the NYFCC winner), Coral Browne in Dreamchild (zero awards traction but a fine turn), Kelly McGillis in Witness and the following comedy Globe nominees: Mia Farrow in The Purple Rose of Cairo, Glenn Close in Maxie, Rosanna Arquette in Desperately Seeking Susan and Sally Field in Murphy's Romance.

Tom Baxter: We'll live on love. We'll have to make some concessions, but so what? We'll have each other
Cecilia: That's movie talk.
What's your ideal Oscar lineup in 1985? Were you born yet?


Joe Shetina said...

Unfortunately, I'm not familiar enough with this year. I love "The Purple Rose of Cairo," though.

NicksFlickPicks said...

Any list without Farrow or Cher seems crazy to me. I can't decide between them for my fave. Among the actual nominees, Goldberg and Lange are also pretty phenomenal; can't decide between them, either, but I think Sweet Dreams works enough of that Men Don't Leave vibe, plus she has enough sizzling chemistry with Ed Harris, that you might come around a little more on Lange? My fifth spot would probably be a toss-up between Aleandro and Carmen Maura in What Have I Done to Deserve This? Can't decide that, either.

Theme: 1985 makes me indecisive.

Nick A. said...

Well, not having been born until 1990 I must admit I need to brush up on these nominees. However, I love The Color Purple and think it's a damn shame Whoopi Goldberg didn't win this year. What I've seen of Geraldine Page didn't really impress (especially Interiors, Maureen Stapleton stole that show 100%).

Mikadzuki said...

I haven't seen most of the 1985 Oscar nominees, but I feel the need to champion Elem Klimov's criminally underrated "Come and See" whenever this year comes up. Definitely one of the most sickeningly powerful films I've ever seen.

Terris said...

I wasn't born yet! =)
Class 1987, so I suppose I won't be able to critically debate about Meryl's Oscar Competition till late '90s/2000...
But, as a good "Steeper", I've watched almost all Streep's movie so I can at least talk about her performances.
I can't say I love all her movies, but Out of Africa was no doubt one of her best! And before reading her biography I was pretty sure that one of her 2 Oscars was for OOA! Her performance was amazing and one of the greatest I have even seen... I belive she was really near to the victory that year.

Chris Na Taraja said...

I've always felt that Whoopie was robbed and should have won for THE COLOR PURPLE, but now I see that Geraldine Page was winning for a lifetime of work. When Whoopie won for GHOST, she was clearly getting the award for THE COLOR PURPLE too.

Wayne B. said...

Wasn't around yet, man, I need to start watching more pre-90s movies. I've only seen one of these performances but I think its deserving: Ms. Goldberg. Growing up she was always funny and I got so used to the Whoopi persona that when I saw "The Color Purple" in my teens it was a revelation to watch her employ her dramatic talents. Too bad we couldn't get a more deeper exploration of her relationship with Shug.


Joe -- 85 is a really strong year i think so i would look up some of the movies. you've seen the best one already though :)

Nick -- 85 is i think the most recent year where i have a lot of gaps. I've never seen Lange in Sweet Dreams either. after 85 i started to see everything. Starting in 86 i got better about seeking out the movies and by 88 i was doing a pretty goodjob of seeing the Oscar movies in the cinema before the big show. basically you need a drivers license for that (unless you have really adventurous or willing parents / friends).

Nick A... you didn't like Geraldine in INTERIORS? god, i love her in that one. so delusional.

mikadzuki i don't remember that one? what is it?

Mikadzuki said...

it's a Russian WWII film about a boy who witnesses the Nazi occupation of Belarus. As I said, it's possibly the most viscerally powerful film I've ever seen, even though most of the horrors occur off screen or from a distance. It's like the lovechild of The Thin Red Line and Apocalypse Now, as edited in a windowless studio where INLAND EMPIRE plays on constant repeat.

But don't let that scare you off!

Agent69 said...

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who gives Mia the win in '85. One of my favorite performance of the 80's. That last scene, when she's watching Top Hat is pure magic.

Yavor said...

I was born in 1985 and I am glad this was such a strong strong year for the movie undustry :P
and as a devoted Meryl follower I had to watch Out of Africa, please don't kill me, but I haven't seen any of the other movies. I really wanna see The Colour Purple and The Trip to Bountiful tough :)

going back to Meryl, I liked her in OOA but I am not surprised she lost, there was nothing too particular to remember about that performance. She did her perfect accent, she did her perfect transformation, yet the character she played was sort of somehow saying "I'm the strong woman, as usual, I'll fight as usual" and we've seen a lot of that. I didn't have the chance to talk about 1981, as I've watched both TFL's woman and On Golden Pond, yeah, Meryl was robbed that year ;) Kate the Great did not deserve to win, it's quite quite sad actually...

Jim T said...

Nate, I know there are a million things on your list but I have a suggestion to make. I think it would be cool if you ranked Meryl's performances. Nominated... Not nominated... I suppose you would put Sophie first but that's just one position. Even if you put my idea on no50 in your "things I have to do before 2012" list, I would totally appreciate it. :)

By the way, I stll haven't seen Out of Africa but I've seen Death Becomes Her like 20 times. On the other hand, Goldie and Meryl make a better couple than Robert and Meryl I think. :p

Anonymous said...

My top five nominees:

1. Whoopie Goldberg, The Color Purple: My Winner in 1985
2. Norma Aleandro, The Official History: Powerful film and performance. Rightfull Aleandro won the NYFCC and Cannes.
3. Mia Farrow, The Purple Rose of Cairo: Great comedic performance by Farrow and one of the best characters made by Woody Allen.
4. Meryl Streep, Out of Africa: Again Streep did it.
5. Anne Bancroft, Agnes of God: TV film but great performances.

Honorable mentions: Geraldine Page, The Trip of Bountiful, Cher, Mask and Carmen Maura, What Have I Done to Deserve This?

cal roth said...

Ok, forget the Oscars. Come and See is the best war movie I've ever seen. It beats masterpieces like Apocalypse Now or even other Russian (the best country when it comes to war movies) pics like Ivan's Childhood or Larissa Shepitko's The Ascent. It's so perfect, and breathtaking and non-epic! So great! Netflix it now or buy the DVD. Not hard to find.

Great Great Great.

Now, back to the Oscars, Page deserved her Oscar and the performance is really brilliant. But I'd have given it to Goldberg. It is a Rourke-Penn situation.

Anonymous said...

MIA FARROW for the win!!!!!!!

Alex said...

My 2 cents:

1. Whoopi Goldberg (The Color Purple)
2. Mia Farrow (The Purple Rose of Cairo)
3. Meryl Streep (Out of Africa)
4. Kathleen Turner (Prizzi's Honor)
5. Anne Bancroft (Agnes of God)

I have yet to see Page, Lange, and Cher's performances so I should get hopping on that.

RJ said...

Norma Aleandro is heads and shoulders the best of the bunch.

Terris said...

@ Jim: very good idea!

@ Nat: and since it was in 1985 as well... what about Plenty? I have watched it a couple of days ago and yes, it was really weird! No plot, no meaning! Meryl was good as ever, especially in the brakdown scene, but... what was the sense of the movie? I couldn't find any... and I watched it in my language (italian) so I definitely exclude that I didn't understand it because of my poor English! =)

Juno101 said...

I was born in 1994 was that a strong year? If not any worth mentioning from that year?

Kent said...

Mia Farrow should've won for The Purple Rose of Cairo -at least be nominated. She's so whimsical and endearing as Cecilia. Meryl Streep would be runner up for Out of Africa. I also love Theresa Russell in Insignificance. A great performance that still gets neglected.

Nat, I love Geraldine Page too. She's brilliant in Sweet Bird of Youth. I liked her enough in Summer and Smoke to be nominated. Was it a bad experience to see Page in that role? She's genuinely fantastic in most of her performances.

Davey said...

This is a year where I've seen all five performances! Finally!

Whoopi was my winner that year by a mile. Not to necessarily disparage the others, but this was a debut for the ages, and Celie left an impression on me that none of the other nominees did. This might be one of those times where Meryl's performance was uber-mannered and "click, click, click", but then that was the character. Anne Bancroft's nod was kind of weird, but it's been a long time since I've seen "Agnes of God", and I remember Meg Tilly being the standout there. "Sweet Dreams" was okay, but it's not one of Jessica Lange's best works, and it could just as easily played as a TV movie of the week (in a good way). Geraldine Page was the best part of an average film, but all of that felt career/makeup win to me. So I'd go with:

1. Whoopi Goldberg
2. Geraldine Page
3. Meryl Streep
4. Jessica Lange
5. Anne Bancroft

Fernando Moss said...

I was a year of being born... but of what I've seen my nominees would have been:

1.Norma Aleandro - La Historia Oficial

2.Mia Farrow - The Purple Rose of Cairo

3.Meryl Streep - Plenty and Out of Africa(I like her performance in Plenty better but I like Out of Africa as a film way better -altough I might should rewatch-, but if Oscar allowed I would have put her in the ballot twice)

4.Cher - Mask

5.Kathleen Turner - Prizzi's Honor

NicksFlickPicks said...

Props to the Russell mention. Have to agree that Page is just awful in Summer and Smoke, though she excites me more often than not. I think she's good in Bountiful, but the movie's just bending over backward to help her be good.

Forgot about my other off-consensus pick from '85: Julie Hagerty's great comic work in Albert Brooks' Lost in America. She's sort of broad and understated at the same time, and the scene where she can't stop gambling always makes me laugh just thinking about it.

Vanessa Redgrave's also pretty good in Wetherby, but the year is already so crowded, she wouldn't get in on my ballot.


kent i forgot all about Russell in Insignificance but yes, she was quite good in that film.

thanks for the reminder.


kent i forgot all about Russell in Insignificance but yes, she was quite good in that film.

thanks for the reminder.

mrripley said...

my 85 list

streep - plenty

and miranda richardson in dance with a stranger.


MIRANDA omg. i keep forgetting people. 85 was so stacked.

James said...

More of y'all need to see Bountiful. Solid movie, great performance.

mrripley said...

more of u need to see dance with a stranger to see how good rupert everett used to be and see randy in her best role ever.

gabrieloak said...

I think Page deserved her Oscar. It's an amazing part.

Stephen said...

Great year for actresses, but I am all over Whoopi in The Color Purple. Full disclosure: I freakin' love that movie. In some ways, I'm ashamed that I love it so much. Spielberg fumbles on some key scenes, but I can't say the same for his actresses. What can I say? It works for me.

My list:

1. Whoopi
2. Cher
3. Farrow
4. Meryl Streep (Plenty)
5. Maura

cal roth said...

Y'all haven't seen Page. It was not a "we're sorry" prize. Great performance.

Arkaan said...

My ballot would read five of: Streep (2x), Goldburg, Aleandro, Richardson, Russell, Redgrave, Page. Choose any five. I'm fine without Farrow or Cher.

I like Page in Summer and Smoke.

Douglas Racso said...

I think that this year belongs to whoopi.

I would nominate:
Mia Farrow
Norma Aleandro
Meryl Streep

Glenn said...

Looove Geraldine Page in Interiors, but I haven't seen Trip to Bountiful. I've seen that DVD cover and it looks terrible.

1985 was the year I was born and yet I feel very neglectful of it. Alas, titles like The Purple Rose of Cairo are still hard to find here. It's incredibly frustrating.


yeah Miranda is GREAT in dance with a stranger.

honestly i have no idea who i'd nominated beyond Mia Farrow (the win) because there are so many terrific performances.

NicksFlickPicks said...

@Cal Roth, Gabriel Oak, et al.: Is it fair to say, Bountiful fans, that Page is quite vivid and engaging, but all that character shading sometimes gets a bit fussy? That's my reservation about the performance. I was relieved when I first saw it that it was a whole order of magnitude above stuff like Harry and Tonto (and even that isn't bad...), but she's not averse to a little mugging and tugging. That's the only reason I'm more excited about Cher, Farrow, Goldberg, Lange &#151 they all have big emotional scenes, too, but they're forced to work more often and more subtly within a more controlled range than Page is, as virtuosic as her performance nonetheless is in many other ways. But please, disagree!

par3182 said...

cher - mask
mia farrow - the purple rose of cairo
whoopi goldberg - the color purple
miranda richardson - dance with a stranger
meryl streep - plenty

and in a squeaker...miranda wins

par3182 said...

and just for comparison, my male winners in '85 were paul reubens in pee-wee's big adventure and crispin glover in back to the future

GreyDog (george h) said...

Nat --

I'm glad you haven't forgotten you 'owe me' that Page write-up!! She was 'tugging and mugging' but it was also a deeply felt performance and it deserved the win as much as any other contender. And I have to admit to being old enough to have seen these in the theater!

My Five:

Streep (OOA)

jc vslencia said...

i havent seen bountiful but 85 should have been cher's year. instead she robbed the field in 87.

or at least among the nominees, whoopie. had she won, the academy would not been compelled to give halle the oscar in 01 and rob nicole along the way.

the academy's tradition of IOUs should stop at one point

and, spielberg deserved a best director nod for purple :)

jc valencia said...

i havent seen bountiful but 85 should have been cher's year. instead she robbed the field in 87.

or at least among the nominees, whoopie. had she won, the academy would not been compelled to give halle the oscar in 01 and rob nicole along the way.

the academy's tradition of IOUs should stop at one point

and, spielberg deserved a best director nod for purple :)


spielberg. ewww. ;)

sorry. not a fan of color purple (though i haven't seen it since 1985 so who knows...

Sean said...

Best Actress - 1985
1. Mia Farrow - The Purple Rose of Cairo
2. Meryl Streep - Out of Africa
3. Whoopi Goldberg - The Color Purple
4. Geraldine Page - The Trip to Bountiful
5. Sally Field - Murphy's Romance

I'm glad we can agree on Mia Farrow with this one. She's pretty far ahead of the others. I'm glad Page finally won an Oscar, but Farrow still doesn't have one. :-(

mick said...

meryl made me swoon in OOA

great great characterisation

plus plenty in a double whammy of a year

nathaniel's comments about not understanding plenty was exactly the point of the script. A failure to connect with the real after the adrenaline rush of the war
it was a movie about a jaded,fiery woman unable to pin point where her desires, purpose, friendship and ambition lay
its a notoriously difficult character to grasp but meryl embodies a certain ennui and attitude that passes through all of us at some point

OSCAR no 4 (kramer, French LW, Sophie and this)

Ryan said...

Nathaniel, you definitely need to see Page's work in Bountiful. It's very moving; Goldberg is my winner though, of the noms.

@Nick of NFP, I'm SO with you that any list without Cher or Mia Farrow is nuts.

Mia Farrow*
Whoopi Goldberg
Geraldine Page
Meryl Streep (spot reserved, though I actually haven't seen all of OOA yet)

NicksFlickPicks said...

@Ryan: I love the idea of a "spot reserved" for Meryl. I bet a lot of actual Actor's Branch ballots look exactly like this, every year.

BillBill said...

Whoopi Golberg was phenomenal in "The Color Purple." I wouldn't have hesitated to vote for her in that year. I didn't like "Out of Africa" that much, so nada for Meryl this time. Jessica Lange was good as Patsy Cline, but not enough for a win (they should have made room for Ed Harris in supporting actor -- that was a really poor year for that category). The film around Geraldine Page wasn't much, but she made the most of this role for sure. I'll always see this as a career/sentimental win, but the Academy's given out far worse ones than this though. I haven't seen Anne Bancroft in "Agnes of God", unfortunately. I really want to soon to fit this missing piece into the race, but it would take something insanely great to top Whoopi.

Alex said...

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that the most pathetic make-up Oscar was probably Al Pacino for "Scent of a Woman." This will be topped when Glenn Close finally wins...or Michelle Pfeiffer...or Sigourney Weaver...or Kathleen Turner. Take your pick.

Why are there so many more women that seemed robbed than men? It seems like the guys all get their due (which makes me even sadder for exception to the rule Peter O'Toole) but there are SO many women who deserve one. Why William Hurt has an Oscar and not Debra Winger is beyond me.


Alex... 38 people have won 2 or more Oscars for acting. I was going to say more women are overdue because they're more likely to win multiple Oscars but i'm wrong. 17 of the multiple winners are women so they're actually less likely (slightly) to win 2, thus blocking overdue candidates.

I think the answer must be that their careers are generally shorter. The men can get leading roles well into their later years. the women not so much. if they don't win young it's really hard to win.

46 men have won acting prizes after they were 50 years of age.

only 21 women have won acting prizes after they were 50 ... and most of those are in the supporting category.

Marcos said...

Streep's chances for that elusive third Oscar were spolied by a longdue penennial nominee: Grand Dame Page. Agreed: her performance is filled with hte bagful of ticks, but it was about time. If things continue like this, most probably Meryl will get her third Orcar for a performance that is not as deserving as others. I remember an article in People at the time, mentioning the 20 very strong candidates for the 1985 Best Actress Awards. Anne Bancroft took the debated fifthe spot. Most glaring omissions: Norma Aleandro, Cher and Mia Farrow.
Something similar happened to Mery with her stunning Bridges of Madison County, with Sarandon winning on her fifth nomination; again with Prada and Mirren and with Winslet this year.
By the way, how can we understand that she was denied a nomination for The Hours?

Alfred Soto said...

Streep is much better in Plenty than in OOA, and the film has plenty of juicy supporting performances (John Gielgud, Sting, Tracy Ullmann, and a young, raffish Ian McKellan).

Agree with the acclaim for Farrow, and Jessica Lange's work generally is due for reappraisal (much more interesting and human than RoboStreep).