Saturday, August 25, 2007

Oscar's Best Actress Hierarchy. A Discussion

I'm psyching myself up for Fall pre-Oscar season. Join me. You know how it goes once September hits. The prestige movies arrive and virtually everything from trailers to talk shows to box office numbers work as viral "for your consideration" ads. The new banner up top, which I've broken into two for discussion purposes here, shows in descending order the women with the most "Best Actress" nominations. No supporting nominations were included in the totals. These are Oscar's favorite leading ladies ranked. And this, is (duh) my favorite category.

01. Katharine Hepburn -12 nominations (32/33, 35, 40, 42, 51, 55, 56, 59, 62, 67, 68, 81) look at that time span ~ just astounding isn't it?
02. Meryl Streep -11
nominations (81, 82, 83, 85, 87, 88, 90, 95, 98, 99, 06) the most modern woman on the list in terms of Oscar since she switches between supporting and lead nominations: that's very common now but it didn't use to be for big stars.
03. Bette Davis -10 nominations (
35, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 50, 52, 62)
04. Greer Garson -7 nominations (39, 41,
42, 43, 44, 45, 60) She's the least well known today but see any of her performances and understand why Oscar fell hard. A charm machine.

05. (Tie ~6 lead noms each... in chronological order)
Norma Shearer (
yay! 29/30, 30/31, 34, 36, 38) One could argue that she's only had 5 noms since she was nominated for two different performances in one year --before they changed the rules on that. But why quibble? Norma needs -- nay deserves your love
Ingrid Bergman (43,
44, 45, 48, 56, 78)
Deborah Kerr (49, 53, 56, 57, 58, 60) the most nominated female lead to have never won the naked shiny man... though Peter O'Toole has her beat overall in the male counterpart category
Jane Fonda (69,
71, 77, 78, 79, 86)
Sissy Spacek (76,
80, 82, 84, 86, 01)

The last time there was a significant change in the field was when Spacek joined, expanding Oscar's top eight women to a top nine once In the Bedroom (2001) hit, ending her 15 year Oscar drought. How long until someone forces a true top ten?

10. (eight-way tie with 5 lead nominations each)
The next group
(5 lead noms) is bigger and includes actresses who've passed away (Susan Hayward, Anne Bancroft, Audrey Hepburn) and one retired giant (La Liz!) so let's just talk about the ones that are still living and working in films and who, thus, still have a chance at increasing their legends:

Shirley Maclaine (58, 60, 63, 77, 83)
Ellen Burstyn (73, 74, 78, 80, 00)
Jessica Lange (82, 84, 85, 89, 94)
Susan Sarandon (81, 91, 92, 94, 95)

Almost all of them have been working strictly in ensembles in recent years. Can they find their own In the Bedroom?

18. (fourteen-way tie: 4 lead noms each)
Just below them in the Oscar horse race are many who've passed on (Barbara Stanwyck, Irene Dunne, Greta Garbo, Janet Gaynor, Rosalind Russell) five retired winners (Jennifer Jones, Jane Wyman, Olivia DeHavilland, Joanne Woodward, Glenda Jackson) and one who has moved to TV guest work (Marsha Mason)...

Three working legends are also in this tier. How many more rungs up the ladder can Judi Dench (97, 01, 05, 06), Diane Keaton (77, 81, 96, 03) or Vanessa Redgrave (66, 68, 72, 84) climb? Or is it supporting roles from here on out?

Oscar's 80th birthday is just six months away ~ What happens to the Best Actress field in Oscar's octogenarian years? Must we wait until Kate Winslet is in her 40s for a real shakeup of the rank? You want to share your theories about the future of this hierarchy in the comments. You know you do.

Thanks to ~Little Golden Guy for a great database. Related stuff ~This year's Best Actress Race (updates soon) or click any of the labels below for more on these cinema greats...


Curtis said...

Perfect blog! What is it about analyzing Oscar's actresses that just perks up my day! :)


looking at this list I think i was most surprised by Shirley Maclaine. She hasn't been nominated in 23 years. But she's been working most of that time.

Anonymous said...

That pic of Kate Winslet alone is enough to perk up MY day (and then I remember that the Academy still hasn't given her a little golden man...grrrr)

I think of that list, Jane Fonda is the most overrated, the one whose work does not hold up as well. I recently saw Coming Home for the first time and was underwhelmed by her performance, except for the chemistry she shared with Voigt (the moment those two lock eyes you know they are destined to be lovers). Otherwise I found her performance a bit flat. She had great taste, and backed some excellent projects, though, including some that had what were at the time controversial "liberal" viewpoints (Coming Home, China Syndrome, etc) and I think that, more than her performances per se, is her lasting legacy to the cinema.


Anonymous said...

Your banner has made my day. Is there any better topic than actresses? I think not!

I can't understand the lack of love for Garson. I can only assume it's because most of her movies are so hard to come by. All I know is I saw Random Harvest, Mrs. Miniver, and Goodbye, Mr.Chips all within the time span of about a week, and I've been hopelessly hooked ever since. Not to mention I find her Elizabeth Bennet, though maybe a tad too old, more witty and charming than Keira Knightley's.

As for the others, I think my favorites are Ms. Kerr and Ms. Bergman for their grace and charm, and of course, La Davis because she is supreme.

*Blushes* I've never been much of a Hepburn fan, but I do love Bringing Up Baby!

Meryl is Meryl and she will probably go on to 14 more nominations (especially with what she has lined up in the coming years).

Sadly, I haven't seen much of Shearer's canon, but The Women is so fabulously bitchy. I am quite skeptical of the remake.

My favorite, and guilty pleasure, out of the others you mentioned is Greta Garbo. I am mesmerized by her on the screen in her silents and talkies. A lot of people today say she wasn't that good of an actress, but I disagree. Her Ninotchka and Camille are divine.


ooh, Red. don't diss Fonda here ;) i am mad for her. I would list Klute among my nominees even if you could only choose 10 ever. that's how much i love that performance.

i am hooked on Garson too but i haven't seen all of them and the more i see of Kerr the less impressed I am truth be told. She's possibly my least favorite of the top 9 --although i've never been much for Hepburn either (*runs and hides* --though i recognize the occassional greatness in her performance --love Bringing Up Baby)

so who do y'all think is gonna crack thsi top 9 first?

SARANDON, MACLAINE, BURSTYN, or are we gonna wait for WINSLET. that might be a while?

Anonymous said...

I agree some of Kerr's nominations weren't deserved *cough* Seperate Tables *cough* (though I was impressed with Hayworth, not usually know for her ACTING abilities). But there were other performances she wasn't nominated for that I love. My favorite is The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, along with Black Narcissus, The Innocents, and The Night of the Iguana. Plus I am a sucker for An Affair to Remember.

My guess is that Dench will be first if she keeps working like she has been. Though she is getting on in years, Oscar nominates her for just about anything, most of it deservingly, some not. I wouldn't be surprised if she got two nominations before someone like Sarandon gets another, unless Oscar finally gets tired of her.

Winslet will probably eventually get up there, but she doesn't work enough. She has one movie slated for like the next two years, which is sad because you can never get enough Winslet.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Oooh, I'm finding myself disagreeing with the filmexperience more and more (but that's a good thing to keep up why I visit), even more so now as I've recently decided on Deborah Kerr as my favorite screen presence (she did me in with her triple performance in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp).

Regarding the others:
Kate is Kate (I do love her and I need to see Long Day's Journey into Night as soon as possible. Boy, did Kate get better at "rage"ing as she got older.) and Meryl is Meryl though I am developing some disdain towards her as she seems to be robbing her fellow elder stateswomen of career resurrection roles (for example: seeing Gena Rowlands recently, I'm surprised why she isn't being used more).

Bette has a tendency to lay it on thick or too strongly for me at times (mostly for her earlier works but thank goodness she calmed down somewhat). A Bergman performance takes a while to chug along before you get really interested in her (must be the catalogue of roles she took: the weak lady who progressively gain strength). Greer Garson meanwhile I find to be very consistent but sometimes to the point of a flatline (I need to see more of her!). As for Norma Shearer, respected but I think I'll stop at that as my sister tainted my opinion when she commented on Norma's sense for hairdressing.

I will never connect with Jane Fonda and as for Sissy, yes she can anchor a movie to her performance but there just seems to be something misiing to make her memorable to me. Maybe it's the style of the era of movies when she hit her stride that's troubling me.

As or the others, regarding Shirley Maclaine, I think she needs what you suggesed for Glenn Close: a perception reversal. Shirls, despite displaying her intelligence as a working actress, has been playing too many grandmothers.

Never cared for Jessica Lange.

I wonder if Ellen Burstyn can go out playing her signature role one last time? I don't know if she'd like her last impression with the Academy would be as Sara Goldfarb appearance wise (but that's one hell of a "see what'll happen if you forget me again, Academy?").

As usual, you lit a firestarter of a discussion Nath, thank you. :)

John T said...

Winslet would probably be the safest assumption to crack the Top Ten with a sixth Best Actress nomination, but I wonder if Jessica Lange can't be that far away from another tango with Oscar. She's clearly loved (one of those few two-time winners), and all she'd need was an In the Bedroom/Requiem/Something's Gotta Give and she'd be in.

And I have to confess that I am one of those people who has always been completely enamored and in love with the lovely Ms. Deborah Kerr.

Also, looking at this year's potential nominees, Julie Christie and Jodie Foster could both creep up to their fourth nominations.

John T said...

JS-I have to agree a teensy bit on Meryl-she's my favorite actress, and I'll see her in anything (I even sat through Evening just to get her cameo), but she has been taking a lot of roles lately, and I wish that some of them would go to the likes of Glenn Close, Jessica Lange (I loved Streep in Prairie, but Lange would have done a Minnesotan accent, not one from Wisconsin, which basically every person in the Gopher State noted), Ellen Burstyn, Susan Sarandon, Holly Hunter, and, as you noted, Gena Rowlands.

I also am going to have to say that I've never been particularly impressed with Jane Fonda. The only perf of hers that I truly loved was Julia (but there's a lot of love for that film).

And, does anyone think it's odd that Keaton has only pulled off one nomination per decade? I wish that she'd reunited with Warren Beatty and make another dramatic film.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Since Keaton and Beatty have been brought up, I was recently reading Julie Christie's (who I think everyone wishes will have a best friend like her Liz after watching Billy Liar) imdb profile and was surprised to find out that she turned down four Oscar-nominated roles!

She turned down:
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
Anne of a Thousand Days
Nicholas and Alexandra

Oh Julie, what would have happened then?

Anonymous said...

Minor correction: Jane Wyman is 90 and has not "passed on."

c.p. iñor said...

I think it's obvious that in a few years Meryl will TOP this chart and then the only REAL threath I can see for anyone in this list is KATE WINSLET I mean the Academy obviously likes her and she will get in next year for RR and then there will be more leading roles to her.

And I am not saying this just because Meryl and Kate are in my TOP 5 of ALL TIME FAVORITE ACTRESSES.

Anonymous said...

jennifer jones is alive and well plus waht about meryls supp perf in 02.

Anonymous said...

shirley maclaine won a globe in drama for madame sousatzka in 88 and in a first in history did not go on to receive an oscar nom,why,because she hammed it up and has only one oscar scene,she was much better in steel magnolias and esp postcards from the edge.

Anonymous said...

lange seemed to me to be along with streep and spacek the lets nom her i n85 she was nommed for sweet dreams over cher in mask,winslet will hopefully penetrate the list as she has years ahead,i think langes platic surgery did her in she looks freaky,glenn close needs s/boulevard.
susan was early 90's default all the woman she robbed in 94 will never leave me weaver,leigh,ryan & fiorentino.

burstyn and spacek have had there comebacks.
keaton may get another but she seems to play diane keaton.
fonda is ripe for something now she is back acting!!!!!
someone give jane alexander,marsha mason,jill clayburgh,ann margret,sally field a good role they can do it when they try.
frances mcd seems she may rival them in support,cate b not beeen mentioned and she is always great.
what about julie roberts i feel she could hit her stride in her late 40's.
meryl does seem to be taking all the late 50's roles where are close,weaver,spacek,winger,davis,sarandon,field etc etc.

i ma more of a 70s onwards fan,dont like the old style of acting i do like davis and kerr though but feel kerr is a 50's default nom.

oooo i could carry on and on.
do we think keira knightley is on for a second nom in 08/

Anonymous said...

do you think kate winslet would win an oscar if she played princess diana something tells me she will in her career why i don't know,it worked for helen mirren/

Anonymous said...

name one perf by those nat listed that was not nommed but should have been mine is sissy spacek in raggedy man.

John T said...

Shirley MacLaine in Madame Sousatzka also tied with two other actors, so she was winning that award along with two other actors (Weaver & Foster, both of whom were nominated). And plus, 1988 was a ridiculously packed year for Best Actress (and really, it's Sarandon who should be complaining about that year-her Bull Durham perf being overlooked in favor of Melanie Griffith in Working Girl).

And, I always hold out great hope that retired actresses like de Havilland, Jones, Wyman, Kerr, Charisse, and Taylor would consider coming out of retirement just once more. It'd be lovely to see any of them onscreen again.

Anonymous said...

I love your Blog.....however I need to point out an error. Meryl Streep has now more nominations (14)than Katherine Hepburn (12).
Streep: 79, 80, 82, 83, 84, 86, 88, 89, 91, 96, 99, 00, 03, 07
Hepburn: 34, 36, 41, 43, 52, 56, 57, 60, 63, 68, 69, 82

Anonymous said...

Please ignore that last post....I just realised my error.....

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

"And, I always hold out great hope that retired actresses like de Havilland, Jones, Wyman, Kerr, Charisse, and Taylor would consider coming out of retirement just once more. It'd be lovely to see any of them onscreen again."

Maybe they can do a female version of storytelling for Ghost Story? Now what young male actor could take the place of Alice Krige.......

Anonymous said...

I honestly could care less about the Oscars. Show me the MOVIES.

Kate is love though.

E Dot said...

I think Cate Blanchett will crack the top 9 sooner than many think. Mark my words.

Anonymous said...

in 88 there was barbara hershey in a world apart,maggie smith in the lonely passion of judith hearne,jamie lee curtis in a fish called wanda,meg ryan in promised land,christine lahti in running on empty and my fave gena rowlands in another woman all more deserving than sarandon and streep and esp griffith!!!!

Anonymous said...

Love love love this post Nathaniel. Bergman and Spacek by far my faves on this list, although I've enjoyed the work of all 9 at some point.

Also, you're right that Fonda has 6 Best Actress noms, but you've listed all 7 of her noms after her name (including her '81 Supporting...delete it!)

If only Audrey Hepburn were alive today to give us another Best Actress-worthy turn. Has anyone seen her in Contact? Is she good in it? Apparently the studio campaigned her for a Supporting nom, but of course she didn't get it.

Anonymous said...

As far as making up a top 10 - Sarandon or Burstyn will get there first, followed by Winslet (3 to go - she'll do it). I can't see Maclaine or Regdrave getting anymore leading noms; I think Dench is done as far as Oscar is concerned (that last nom had a finality about it for some reason); and I hope to God that Oscar is done with Lange. Blanchett (5 to go) - can't see that happening - yes, she'll rack them up - but supporting/leading mixture methinks.

Anonymous said...

Any banner that uses Jane Fonda is FINE by me......1970's Jane Fonda that still made good movies, that is.

Anonymous said...

Re: A. Hepburn - I meant Always not Contact.


everyone and john t --i fixed the Jones and Wyman error. sorry. but my goodness some of these living souls need to come out of retirement for one last glorified cameo or something.

contribute to the cinema!

as for Streep. one of my all time faves but yes, it is a little bit concerning that nobody over 60 will be able to get a plum role if she's making 4 a year.


amir --i agree that Dench seems done. weird feeling but it felt like it to me too after the last two.

cp --meryl will tie Hepburn for sure, but can she beat her? That's 2 more noms required and i think that's harder than we think. even with all these upcoming roles (some will arrive in the same year after all... and many will be supporting roles)

elias i'm with Amir here i think Blanchett can't crack the top ten due to her tendency to work all the time and in small roles too --she might rack up an impressive total but not in the lead category. At least not for some time

anonymous Lange hater -- agreed about the annoyance of 1994. that year was so full of cool work. but it was always going to be a rough oscar year because the best work was in non traditional non bait films... and when that happens oscar will always go for favorites instead.

Anonymous said...

And Julianne Moore? She has dseserved an Oscar for a long time ago...
I really think fellows she will be nominated next year for Savage Grace.
And mark my words: I can see Michelle Pfeiffer winning an Oscar for Hairspray. We just have to wait for Mrs. Bening Oscar.

Anonymous said...

well, i must say, I've been a bit obsessed lately reading about myrna loy...especially after seeing "best years of our lives' a few weeks back on tcm. kind of amazing she never received one nomination - she was really quite lovely & charming. im a bit perplexed as to why she was never nominated. certainly up there w deborah kerr or greer garson. go to youtube - watch the tcm tribute by julianne moore.

Anonymous said...

i think its really unfair to say meryl is robbing other 50 something actresses (close, lange etc) of roles.
Its only the dearth of good roles for women of that age
at least meryl is trying to correct that sexist slant
and she is not even in the lead in many which is a CRIME!

and Meryl is the only actress of her stature I know WITHOUT grand dame airs. She would quite happily be in an ensemble role and not insist on top billing

so lets erase all this teensy doubt and grudge we have for La Streep.
she is STILL paving the way forward.
and she is STILL the GREATEST living actress bar NONE

Anonymous said...

Rural Juror, I hope you are NOT the same one on imdb. The on that laughed at the thought of Sam Jackson winning an Oscar.

Anonymous said...

Not because you laughed at the thought of Sam winning an Oscar for Reserrecting the Champ.

Because you or the poster is kind of annoying :-).


I L-O-V-E meryl streep. so i don't want that to be interpreted as anti-Streep. but there is such a thing as too many films per year.

it generally doesn't help a career (other than monetarily) to be in 4 or 5 a year. It usually turns people against you even if the backlash is shortlived

i'm not the only person who has issues with that. remember how everyone turned viciously on jude law when he was suddenly in everything?

last year was good for Scarlett Johansson financially but don't you think her critical rep took kind of a beating for being in all those movies and for excelling in none of them?

i shudder to compare any actress to ryan seacrest but does he need to host every show? it's like variety is the spice of life. Please mix it up. even just a little.

but again. Love Streep. I'm sure she'll be great in (most of) those pictures.

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is KEEP GOING , Meryl. I totally agree with the annonymous who extoled her.

Remember everyone that acting styles have changed a lot through the years... One of my favorites, Susan Hayward, was great then , but now looks as if she is chewing up the scenery ... ditto Bette Davis and many others. They need to be judged in their time.

Anonymous said...

streep in doubt vs winslet in revolutionary rd in 09 i think,they want to give one to streep again but kates is so due,i loved her little c perf no one else seemed to like she was a default nom!!!!!

lange in 84,89 & 85 why why why!!!!

Anonymous said...

do support nat.

Anonymous said...

streep is only in lions and rendition this year

evening was but a cameo

and dark matter--that will just never be seen by the mainstream

Anonymous said...

i tell you who is most over exposed

nicole kidman
i cant deny she has a good taste in her directors but really-

she has the same cold, beautiful persona in every film-thats why her best film is still the others and why all her comedies never ever work
well-except for to die for where she really played herself

as for moulin rouge-movie was great. she was the weakest point.
there had to be fire in the character
what we had was showstopping beauty but little to want to love

Anonymous said...

Meryl will continue to be nominated until she wins again (lead or supporting), and then she'll be done with Oscar.

I can only hope Winslet continues to go unrewarded ONLY so that she can rack up nomination totals while she's this young (then win one, have a dry period...and then grab a bunch more until she wins again in her 70's...or something like that). So, as far as nomination totals, I could see her crackin' into the top ranks sooner than her 40's even.

Once they gave it to MacLaine in '83, that was it for her. I think the same is true (though with more room to squeeze in should the right role come by) for Sarandon.

Burstyn didn't win for Requiem and many felt that she was "robbed" (especially b/c Roberts is so "hollywood" - though she deserved it, imo) I could definitely see her with another nom in the coming years.

LOVE Fonda and hope she gets back to work (serious work.)...and would also LOVE to see Keaton do some drama/not play the same person over and over again.

adam k. said...

I agree that MacLaine and Sarandon are done. They just aren't doing the same quality work. Though they will likely keep getting golden globe noms.

Disagree that Streep will be done after one more oscar. She'll probably go without this year, and then win for 2008. But I don't see why that'd be it. As long as she has fewer oscars than Hepburn, she's in the game. And even then, I don't see why she wouldn't keep getting nominated into her 70s, though probably in supporting roles. I think she'll break 20 noms when all is said and done. She's certainly not going away.


20? my goodness. i don't see it. That'd be obliterating all previous records rather than just topping them.

I too think she'll win again though

Anonymous said...

What do you think of the cases of Julianne Moore and Annette Bening? Some day in the future the ladies will win? Can Julianne be nominated next year for Savage Grace?
And Glen Cloose? What can you tell me about her case?

Anonymous said...

I'm going to answer the previous question: I also think Mrs. Moore is going to be nominated nex year for Savage Grace.

Anonymous said...

what about some of those recent folk with 2 noms and 1 win like hilary swank,renee zellweger,charlize theron,julia roberts,nicole kidman etc etc.

Anonymous said...

Judi Dench isn't done getting nominated this year. I could easily see her getting 2-3 nods more before her career ends, and if anyone can manage those nods in lead over supporting, it's La Dench.

Meryl will probably break 20 nods before her career is over. I do think that she's becoming overexposed, and that she is taking opportunities away from other actresses her age. That's not all her fault -- it's also the fault of narrowminded casting directors who think that Meryl is the only 50+ actress out there and the only one that can open a film well. Others need those opportunities, and variety is key after all.

Look out for Kate & Cate though. Blanchett can get two nods this year, which will bring her up to five nods. And it's only a matter of time before Winslet wins outright, and even after that, I think they'll still nominate her. She's the best bet to reach double-digit nods in her career and rival Meryl's record.


i don't see any of them being able to garner huge tallies of nominations primarily because their filmographies don't warrant it.

theron and berry are too willing to be in crap. she who must not be named is done, swank i'd like to think is done (though i'm probably wrong), roberts has nothing left to prove and isn't trying to prove it, and kidman. Well... even when she stars in very challenging projects that push her considerable skill, they aren't Oscar friendly projects.

as much as it pains me to say it, I think Julianne Moore is done with Oscar. She's in a Glenn Close situation. She had her shot and then suddenly she's in her late 40s and the roles aren't as good and she's repeating herself too often.

I mean we do here great things about the SAVAGE GRACE performance but we also hear that Oscar won't come near it with a ten foot pole: disturbing and weird

Anonymous said...

I've never seen anything of Greer Garson's, but after reading this blog, I definitely would like to. I guess I'll start with "Mrs. Miniver".

Glenn Dunks said...

"I really think fellows she will be nominated next year for Savage Grace."

As Nat just alluded to, if Juli gets nommed for Savage Grace then I think the world will spin off its axis. She's great in it, but she's not Far From Heaven great and the movie is just way too bizarre (incest and the like).

With Meryl... I'm going to go with the thinking that once they finally give her another statue then it will be quieter for her. Look at Jack Nicholson. After he won for As Good As It Gets he's only been nommed for About Schmidt and they passed him over this year for Mark Wahlberg in the same category. Fresh blood and whatnot.

Glenn Dunks said...

Wait. I just check Jack's IMDb and it turns out he's been in less films since AGAIG than I though. I guess it's because he's always at these awards shows that I figured he was all these movies, but apparently not.

Still, my reasoning does still stand. Once she wins again it'll be a bit quieter. and maybe Streep herself won't feel the need to make so many movies.

Glenn Dunks said...

Oh (SORRY!) if Cate Blanchett gets nommed for Elizabeth this year (quite probably) then that will only be her SECOND Best Actress nom. She still has a looong way to go (as much as I love her).


and as far as Cate goes it must also be pointed out. Even if you make 6 movies a year you can't be nominated for all of them (against the rules and whatnot. so your best bet is to space out those incredible roles...

;) which girlfriend don't do.


anonymous --Mrs Miniver is really good. do tell once you've seen it.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

Speaking of people with only two lead actress nominations:

Personally I find Nicole Kidman easier to access than Michelle Pfeiffer.

If Nicole is Ice then Michelle is Glass.


ice and glass mmmmmm
both such fine hypnotic surfaces...

Anonymous said...

The Academy won't slow down nominating Meryl. They adore her too much. Even if she wins for "Doubt", I could see them giving her a final fourth Oscar for either a supporting win or if she got something like a "On Golden Pond" or "Driving Miss Daisy" type sentimental role in lead actress. Nominations wise, I don't think that reaching 20 is a pipe dream at all.

Anonymous said...

"theron and berry are too willing to be in crap" - cracked me up...but sadly also true. I do like them both though - like to think of them as Hollywood's trashy talents. Especially when Charlize gets out on to the red carpet in some hideous, too fashion-forward for its own good Dior get-up.

I hope there's more Oscartime for Zellweger though. I'd like to see her with a leading Oscar one day. She seemed a bit disappointed on stage when she won supporting in 2003, don't you think? Shohreh would've appreciated that one.

Anonymous said...


1. I think 20 nods is within reach for Streep. That many nods is not unheard of (John Williams, Edith Head), and while it will be certainly obliterating records, I think she's one of the few actresses who can get nominated on name only.

2. Like everyone else said, Winslet seems the most likely to get in the top group, though I think Dench has an outside shot. Her ferocious turn in Notes on a Scandal reminded people how good she is, and combined with the fact that she acts in a few films, I think she's got a shot.

3. Blanchett certainly has a long way to go with oscar before she cracks that upper echelon. That said, I think Nathaniel's point about backlash re: Meryl Streep applies even more here. Remember during the early portion of the oscar races in 2004 and 2006, where one of the predictive points Nate made about her was that we've learned not to expect a nod for her, having been burned before. We should be watchful now of expecting too much for her, despite her prodigious work ethic.

4. You know, I don't mind Streep, Blanchett et al trying to work as much as they can. They get paid a lot and garner wild adulation to do something they love. Why should they slow down? That said, I do get irritated with casting directors who simply have no idea what to do with the rest of the performers who certainly deserve those great roles.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

By the way Nath, I see that you count Norma's 2x nom but not Bette's write in nomination.


re; point #4 --I imagine it's a case of "ignorance is bliss" I don't think i would object to Streep in 3 movies a year or Blanchett in 4 if I wasn't so well versed in other careers that have totally flamed out despite the talent still being there. As it is I just don't see the point. Plus it feels more than a little bit like television to me:

"What new case can Cate Blanchett and Samuel L Jackson solve this week?" Return to the theater on Friday to find out!


as far as counts, as i stated in the post i pulled statistics from LITTLE GOLDEN GUY's database but yes the Shearer and Davis numbers are debatable. Depends on how one interprets the rules in Oscar's early experimental years.

Anonymous said...

Streep could have worked a lot more when she was in her thirties, but instead chose to be a mother and raise her kids rather than a nanny taking care of them... she also wanted to act on the stage during that time, but refused because of her family. NOw that they are grown, I say, GO MERYL!

Anonymous said...

any1 think there is a chance gwyneth palytow will get another nom shame about the lack of love proof & sylvia,what about samantha morton,naomi watts and keira knightley,i feel reese is in for 1 more in 08.

Anonymous said...

First off, having just seen A Prairie Home Companion the other day (finally) I am in love with Meryl all over again - simply divine. And, yes, go Meryl! Other actresses (Debra Winger amongst them) have decided that trying to deal with the nonsense that Hollywood was dishing up was too exhausting, and have fallen away. (I attended a screening of Big Love, produced by Winger and directed by/starring her husband, who was for me a real revelation, and she was clearly not in love with the whole business of acting but her face lit up when she talked about on-line producing, which she likened to being a mom for a very large brood.) But no, it is NOT Meryl's fault that casting directors are clueless, that the people who make films fail to cast their nets wider or lack imagination when it comes to other actresses, that some actresses get tired of the nonsense and pursue other interests, or that our (Western) culture in general does not honor "mature" women. (As one female producer was quoted as saying in AARP's magazine before this year's Oscars, most Hollywood studio execs were "Fetuses in suits".) The films and the roles have to be there - the writers need to be writing the scripts which then need to be greenlighted by the studios, etc etc in which real women of all ages are featured. Contrast Western cinema with the local bookstore, which is full to bursting with stories (fiction and nonfiction) of interesting women of all ages, classes and races.

So if Meryl's willing to hold up the banner of "I'm over 40 and I'm still here, dammit" more power to her, especially since she is that damned good. With so much dreck in the cinema, why complain about a surfeit of quality? It sounds self-indulgent (children are starving in Africa, folks.)


Anonymous said...

That just missed the entire point of what people were saying about Meryl being all too happy to be in roles that could be better suited for other actresses. Booo.

Anonymous said...

hurrah red satin doll for championing meryl

think about it-she is still the ONLY actress of her generation then and NOW that is still working, still THE FEMALE ICON, and still the inspiration for combing not only work and family but most importantly, a healthy dose of self deprecation

i say go on forever...MERYL


nobody here wants Meryl to quit. we just want some other late 50s / early 60s wonderfully talented women (meryl --who is divine --is not the only genius) to get meaty roles.

Anonymous said...

They probably aren't but I really wish Oscar was done with Kidman and Blanchett. I think they're so overrated. Kidman was awesome in Moulin Rouge and passable in The Hours and Cate was only good in The Aviator. Past that I care for neither of them. Give some nominations to some more deserving people!

Anonymous said...

And I also would like filmmakers/casting directors to give more roles to other actresses. I don't want less work for Meryl - let her work as much as she likes. I don't want less roles for other actresses, either - oh, wait, that isn't possible, because the roles don't exist in the first place. My point really is that I want the roles to BE there, period. I want screenwriters and producers to open their eyes, I want women in Hollywood with any modicum of power to use that power to do something besides get a once-yearly facelift, I want audiences to go see quality films, to demand better roles for women, to stop going to the same old dreck. Yes, I know I am demanding quite a bit.

Any wonder that Wiest, Hunter, Sedgewick etc are seeking out new venues in television? At least they are creating roles for women on cable because they recognize that women (and actressexuals of both/all genders) are a huge part of the audience share. The movie studios forgot that decades ago.


Cibbuano said...

how the hell does Streep make so many movies? Hard-working lady, that's for sure, and one that's quite discreet in the public eye.

Cibbuano said...

Also, great post. I linked to it here

Also, I've got a thing for Shirley Maclaine... I recently saw Irma La Douce in a cinema, and she was really quite captivating.

Anonymous said...

the thing is some actors roles dry up but it would be nice to see weaver,lange,spacek,winger,close,huston,wiest,hunter,clarkson etc etc instead of rachel mcadams,kirsten dunst who have 0 the charisma of any of those actresses,sl ot of those actresses did not fingd good roles and fame till they were 30 with exp behind them they looked like women,todays actresses are to anamoured with aimage and there over inflated opinion of themselves dunst is a prime example of this,i doubt spidey 4 would not make cash if she were not in it as for her playing debbie harry what a big joke shes not old enough for a start!!!
she has never anchored a film or given a performance besides mary jane anyone can remeber her name means nothing to me in a film in fact replace her with any of the bove mentioned,keep her away from the screen keep her away from debbie harry's biog please!!!!


cibbuana -thanks for the link. I like inspiring related articles.

anonymous --my advice: see more of Dunst. Half the time i feel like the mass hate is coming from spider-man but she's been SO much better in so many other films. It's just a matter of what people see before they form their opinions

Anonymous said...

i agree

dunst is so painful to watch. she tries to be so "indie" but ends up looking just bland

as for stae and kidman-at least cate has real talent. with kidman-you just see her ambition and her desperate longing to be "important" coming through

as for meryl--goddess!!
but yes- i wanna see more lange, close etc
but hey-lets not forget judy davis, barbara hershey, dianne wiest of course,
and nathaniel: pffeifer i am afraid may be haeading the way of those 2nd rans. although she has been more prominent this year, theres nothing to suggest a big comeback which is a shame
i saw hairspray and realised that she is the most stunningly beautiful actress since monroe.
and such a good actress too--kidman pales so so in comparison

if the gods were just: we would have streep, pfeiffer and one more (your choice) as the triumvirate:

meryl:the acting god who hides her natural beauty
pfeiffer: the beauty above all who can act
isabelle huppert: all that is wondrous in foreign cinema and in daring cinema

hey-whats happened to cecilia roth?
she gave possibly the most moving performance in the last decade

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting to see Kidman called out for her ambition. For me, her best performances have been the ones that operate nearer to the fringe. You can label it pure ambition, but to me her best performances have been in Dogville, Eyes Wide Shut, Birth, The Others, Moulin Rouge, The Hours etc... She's just not particularly interesting in the mainstream vehicles of Bewitched/The Invasion/whateverthehell else. When she chooses interesting projects with interesting directors (auteur lust is a very good color on this performer), the results are often spectacular and even when they don't work (Fur), they are certainly interesting and commendable.

Dunst is an interesting case. I saw her first in Bring It On and followed that up with Crazy/Beautiful and was convinced she was the real deal (Crazy/Beautiful in particular is one hell of an underrated film/performance). I don't think she's always successful (Marie-Antoinette, Wimbledon, The Cat's Meow), but there are other performers that I have my claws out for before her.

Anonymous said...

Aw, I loved Dunst in the Spider-Man movies. Really, I loved the performances in all of them (well... mostly the first two... and definitely not Dafoe).

Anonymous said...

Why all the hassle about Streep hogging mature women roles? Last year she was in 2 movies ...this year 3 ( if you want to count the 5 minutes she was in Evening ) .. next year maybe 2 will be released.. (Mama Mia and Doubt ) .. that seems fair to me... the blogger who said that roles are NOt being written for mature women, hit the nail on the head.

Anonymous said...

nat i agree it's the fact she thinks she is some great star like julia roberts,meryl streep,cameron diaz,nicole kidman,cate blanchett those are all recognisable stars who get good roles and some are more box office than others,she's ok in small supp roles a la esoftsmind she was ok in c/b but nothing that special well people go around slamming charlize theron,hilary swank and renee zellweger it pisses me off,i agree none are meryl streep but they have proved themselves time again with good perfs and good films,yes they make a few bad choices but dunst purrrrrrlease why does she go the oscars she has never been in an oscar worthy per se film or given and oscar wothry perf,shes there to get teens to watch but no one likes her not oin hollywood as she has an overinflted opinion of herself compare her to kate winslet our very own streep and then sing from the rooftops.


Re: Streep again.
I'm working on a new series that I hope will eventually clarify this issue (over and under casting) but for anyone who doubts my Streep love --go back and read my gushing Prairie piece and my Prada awards. I LOVE THE STREEP.

but as for the numbers here's her current slate. Still plenty of time to add for 2009 ;)

Wanted (unknown)
A Question of Mercy (unknown... but this one is from Rodrigo Garcia who has previously championed a bunch of mature actresses who don't get enough work)

Dirty Tricks (lead. great role)
First Man (co lead w/ DeNiro. political comedy)
Doubt (co lead w/ Hoffman. great role)
Mamma Mia! (lead. musical)

Lions for Lambs (supporting?)
Rendition (supporting)
Evening (cameo)
Dark Matter (supporting)

Anonymous said...


thse nicole films you pointed out were certainly interesting

but nicole was always cold in them-its the way she says her lines with a certain breathlessness that is meant to mark pain and intensity

and the long hard stares that end up emotionless

its useful when its dogville-a bretchtian piece that asks for little displays of emotion
ditto: eyes wide shut, birth, others,

hours: she was good but she was NOT v woolf
and moulin rouge--oh she was so so wrong. the rest of the film was spectacular but i dare say this: when the film is re-assessed 10 years from now-there will be a hollow core where satine was meant to fill

Anonymous said...

//Arkaan said...
I find it interesting to see Kidman called out for her ambition. For me, her best performances have been the ones that operate nearer to the fringe. You can label it pure ambition, but to me her best performances have been in Dogville, Eyes Wide Shut, Birth, The Others, Moulin Rouge, The Hours etc... She's just not particularly interesting in the mainstream vehicles of Bewitched/The Invasion/whateverthehell else. When she chooses interesting projects with interesting directors (auteur lust is a very good color on this performer), the results are often spectacular and even when they don't work (Fur), they are certainly interesting and commendable.//

Thank you for the Nicole-love (or at least a solid defense) arkaan. I'm really finding it tiresome that she is criticized for "ambition" - first of all, why is it such a monstrous thing in a woman? (It's still considered so unseemly in a female even in this day and age that she has to pretend she hasn't any just to be given a pass as sufficiently feminine for our judgement.) And why is she being "Called out for it" as you said, when in fact ALL actresses need at least an iota of ambition in order to want to keep working. Without ambition you have Debra Winger, who got tired of the guff in Hollywood, got tired of being an actress, and dropped out. Such is the tale of many an actress who falls by the wayside. You don't have a career of several decades without it, even if you have to protest it was all luck and chance - whether you're Nicole, Meryl, or Katherine Hepburn.

Nicole is still my favorite actress. Not the warmest, most incandescent (that'd be Meryl, of course)but her perfs have done something to me that no other actor's work (male or female) has ever done - made me forget entirely that I am watching a movie, that the character in front of me isn't as real as I am, and indeed drawn out from me unbidden and unawares some of my darkest internal shadows of the heart. She doesn't achieve that every time - if I could criticize her for anything, it would be overreaching, trying to be old-fashioned cinema star and respected indie actress all at once. I think she really needs to make up her mind about what kind of career she wants. She was wrong, oh so wrong as Ada in Cold Mountain (how much so becomes clear now as I'm reading the book), and of her bombs, the less said the better. But it has to be admitted she has fewer bombs than quite a lot of actresses of her generation, and some genuine masterpieces. (And as arkaan noted, even those indie efforts that "fail" are at least interesting films.)

As for the person who said that she was "wrong for Satine" - I can't even go there. The qualities that so many people criticize her for are part of what made her exactly right for the role - but here I defer to Nathaniel's brilliant Moulin Rouge essay as the definitive word on that subject.


Anonymous said...

no no nicole was perfect heartbreaking,luminous,funny,touching,star making lets not start on nicole in mr her best work was to die for in 95,the portrait of a lady in 86 people really need to reassess that film to see she was robbed of a best actress nom,she was also v v good in eyes wide shut but maybe suffered form category confusion who thinks she was lead and who like me feels she was supp.

Anonymous said...

But are Dirty Tricks and First Man solidly committed to? I've read about them now for two years... also one with Anthony Hopkins ( a historical drama ) has been discussed.


well they're listed on IMDB which as far as i'm aware doesn't usually list the "in talks" efforts or if they do it says that.

Anonymous said...

I need to see To Die For but I've seen Birth, Dogville, Moulin Rouge, The Hours, The Others, and Cold Mountain. She was great in Moulin Rouge and ok in The Hours but I don't unerstand that people can look at those other performances and call them good, I just don't.

Anonymous said...

thank god someone sees through the kidman performances
and sees that she is TRYING sOOOOOOO hard that you NEVER empathasise or feel for her

Its beautiful to look at that..but then so is a prada ad

lets have more warmth ala close, pfeiffer, winslet, linney, hunter, even lange and of course LA STREEP

Anonymous said...


Whenever I hear someone describe an actress as "cold," my first instinct is to wonder if "cold" should be read as intelligent (ie, displaying intellect before open, feminine emotion). The answer is generally yes.