Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kate's Oscars... 1,2,3,4

Adventures in DC #1

<--- Katharine Hepburn in Morning Glory (1933) as depicted by artist Joseph Grant

I thought I should take in some of the sights while I'm here in DC. So today I briefly ventured into the rather schizophrenic National Portrait Gallery with a little time to kill before hitting a screening of Hamlet 2. Maybe I was moving too quickly through the museum but it seemed very erratic: hip hop artists here, political historical presidential types there, Judy Garland by Warhol, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (!!! and ???) were suddenly there without warning, Queen Elizabeth (before she was Cate Blanchett), and then a lengthy series involving The Civil War. What an odd collection.

I felt as if I had stumbled into Oscar's wet dream edited by the folks who brought you La Vie En Rose: biopics were everywhere! All those Important Lives™ flashing before my eyes in no discernable order ...certainly not chronologically. Naturally the one thing that stopped me dead in my tracks was the Oscars themselves. Four of them to be precise...

...all of them belonging to one Katharine Hepburn, the most decorated of all Hollywood thespians. They had a whole exhibit dedicated to her which is up for one more month. I snapped this photo (my phone is old and weak) to show you her golden boys in chronological order for Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981). The 30s Oscar is shorter than the rest but strangely it's the 80s Oscar that looks the most worn. The ones from the 60s are still sparkly. Did she manhandle it a lot or was the gold plating just much cheaper by the 1980s?

Will that four statue triumph of a record ever be tied... let alone broken? I once though Jack Nicholson would do it. He still could. Just one shy... and if he could win for As Good As it Gets he could probably win for something heftier again should he choose to push himself. (That pass for The Departed sure was weird though given their usual nutso devotion to him).

I used to strongly believe and hope that Meryl Streep would do it --being halfway there and because I prefer her to Hepburn --but I often doubt that that will happen now. Then I stop to remember: Kate didn't even win her second golden boy until she was 61. Meryl turns 60 next summer! Wouldn't it be something if she won two in a row, like Hepburn, as she entered her 60s. She could start with Doubt.


John T said...

The real question is, do you think any actor has ever deserved to have four trophies to themselves Nat? Has anyone ever given the Best Perf of the Year four times?

I really can't think of anyone off of the top of my head (even my constant devotion to Welles has him topping out at 2 1/2-picking between Hank Quinlan and Scottie Ferguson being a Sophie's Choice sort of situation; in fact, if I was allowed to tie one acting category in the last 80 years, it would be those two, even though neither were nominated). Streep would have a couple, Keaton a couple-the only person I can think of would be Brando.


I've never done the math myself but yeah, I doubt i'd have anyone winning 4. though a lot of different people have 2 who've never even won one (pfeiffer, moore, winslet)

G.K.R. said...

The only actor I can think of that MIGHT have deserved four Oscars is De Niro. I'd add wins for Taxi Driver and NYNY to his Jake LaMotta... and *assuming* he deserved it for Godfather 2 (which I - whisper it - haven't seen)...

Of course, he'd have had to have given them all back as penance by now.

Runs Like A Gay said...

You've hit the nail on the head about the National Portrait Gallery, and it's something it shares with all the galleries in D.C.

You think, going in, they're organised and carefully consructed. But in fact it's a real hotch potch of stuff with no themes or defining order.

That's why I love it. You can wander aimlessly from room to room and everytime you go you'll pick up a new experience and a new story.

(I suppose you really want responses to the Katty Hepburn thing but I feel the nature of galleries is more fun and I'm quite tired with it being late here in the UK.)

Film Knower said...

Hilary Swank might get there.


Y Kant Goran Rite said...

I think Kate Hepburn was the Best Actress the most often. Probably at least four years - I'm not sure which years, but definitely 1938 - Bringing Up Baby; 1940 - Philadelphia Story; 1968 - Lion in Winter; and probably 1935 - Alice Adams or Sylvia Scarlett...

There's also the ever-underappreciated Thelma Ritter - who probably deserved more than four: 50 - All About Eve; 53 - Pickup on South Street; 54 - Rear Window; 65 - Boeing Boeing etc.

I can't think of any other four time Bests right now but I can think of plenty of three-timers:
Paul Newman: 1967 - Cool Hand Luke; 1961 - The Hustler; 1963 - Hud

Stanwyck: 1944 - Double Indemnity; 1941 - Lady Eve; 1933 - Baby Face

Lombard: 1936 - My Man Godfrey; 37 - Nothing Sacred; 42 - To Be or Not to Be

Welles: 1941 - Kane; 1949 - Third Man; 1965 - Falstaff

Brando: 1951 - Streetcar; 1954 - On the Waterfront; 1972 - Last Tango in Paris (and maybe also 52 - Viva Zapata)

Nicholson: 1970 - Five Easy Pieces; 75 - Cuckoo's Nest; 74 - Chinatown

Farrow: Rosemary's Baby; Purple Rose of Cairo; Alice... and maybe Hannah and Her Sisters too...

and there's also my own personal goddess Emmanuelle Devos who gave my favourite performances of 2004 - Kings and Queen; 96 - My Sex Life or How I Got into an Argument; and very possibly 2008 - Christmas Tale.

I already find Streep morbidly overpraised - I don't think she's given my favourite performance of any year - so I do hope she doesn't break Hepburn's record.

Anonymous said...

If anyone deserves 4 trophies... it's Brando.

Easily for...
"On the Waterfront"
"The Godfather"
"Last Tango In Paris"

And either...
"A Streetcar Named Desire" (torn between him and Monty) and “Viva Zapata!”

Oh, and while I hope Streep is the one to break/tie Hepburn, currently I'm thinking it'll ultimately be Jack. But someone WILL do it one day.

Anonymous said...

James Stewart, easily...

Harvey, Anatomy of a Murder, Vertigo and It's a Wonderful LIfe.

- cal roth

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

I don't want anyone to ever touch Kate's record.

And since we're tossing out our "shoulda been winnables", my favorite actress in Deborah Kerr, I think was Oscar-worthy in:

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (supporting)
Black Narcissus (lead)
The Innocents (lead)

and for sentimental reasons:
Tea and Sympathy
The Night of the Iguana

Anonymous said...

i do think they will give jack 1 more maybe de niro or day lewis as for the actresses they will give meryl another surely and maybe judi dench,i always though they would give bette davis one for the whales of august surely on of her best n her later years,jane fonda may get to 3.

Anonymous said...

@ brodie : I just had the most horrific dream where Hilary Swank was president. The weird thing is that in my dream I only recognised her as "the president", my realization that it was that Skankwoman only came later when I remembered the dream. She was sitting at a desk in Freedom Writers-attire. Brrr...


but are you really weighing these multiple winners against all the rest of the greats in those years.

it's easy for me to say something like Pfeiffer was Oscar worthy 5 times but if i really break down the years I'm not handing her 5 trophies ;)

as for Brando. I'll give you STREETCAR and ON THE WATERFRONT but I can't say amen to LAST TANGO IN PARIS. I understand that people love the performance but honestly, I was practically begging for the director to have him reign it in towards the end... a modern equivalent might be Daniel Day-Lewis in THERE WILL BE BLOOD if he had had let that last scene's back row theatrics bleed into more of the previous 2+ hours.

and Cal... James Stewart for Anatomy of a Murder? He's good in the picture but BEST of the year? The other three star turns you can make an argument for surely. Good point.


runslikeagay good point on the different experience each time. I bed you're right. I almost made this post about something else entirely so maybe i had two different experiences in just one visit. Imagine a third...


mariposa you frighten us! please assure that you're dreams haven't been premonitory in the past.

Anonymous said...

The thing with the academy is that no matter what shocking or novel choices they make from time to time, (be it the nominees or winners) they are too conservative to break away from tradition/previous records. For example, i doubt there will ever be a film that wins over 11 oscars or an actor that wins over 4. Unless Swank wins 7 which means the world will be plunged into eternal darkness and despair.

adam k. said...

Hmm, I dunno, I've paid close attention to your retro awards, Nat, and it sure seems like you'd have given Streep gold a whole bunch of times. Definite gold for Sophie's Choice, what seemed like a gold for Out of Africa/Plenty (I guess since you disregarded the sentimental reasons to vote for others), and you hedged on 1983, saying Streep and both Terms of Endearment girls were all worthy of gold (and with Silkwood being your #1 of the year...). And then there's the recent gold for Devil Wears Prada, and what I assume was probably a supporting gold for Kramer v. Kramer.

By my count, that's 4 or 5. And that's without looking to French Lt's Woman, Cry in the Dark, Ironweed and other unknowns.

adam k. said...

But for the record, my Nat-dar says you'd have awarded Cher and Glenn Close in 1987 and 1988, respectively. In '81, I have no idea.

adam k. said...

I also think it's highly likely that Streep will catch and/or beat Hepburn eventually. As you said, she's still younger than Kate was when she won her SECOND oscar.

It's even conceivable that Streep would win twice in a row these next two years, for Doubt and Julie & Julia. But she'd have to dispatch both Winslet (this year) and Pfeiffer (next) to accomplish that.

BUT I don't think anyone will be tying or beating the record of 4 LEAD acting oscars. That one will probably last forever. Streep would need 3 more wins in lead to even tie. I don't see that happening.

adam k. said...

And haven't you said that Pfeiffer's won Film Bitch awards for these 4 perfs:

Dangerous Liasons
The Fabulous Baker Boys
Batman Returns
White Oldeander


That's 4. I may have made up the Dangerous Liasons win, but I know you love it, and her. And I'm pretty much 100% sure of the other three.

(my point is just that yes, even you seem to have given obscene numbers of trophies to your faves... sorry, I don't let you get away with anything)

; )

Glenn said...

I wish Streep had won for The Deer Hunter instead of Kramer vs Kramer. At least if her Supporting Actress win came for the former I wouldn't be able to be so annoyed about it (I haven't seen The Deer Hunter) but... egads, I hate Kramer vs Kramer. Streep's pretty good but I think I remember preferring Jane Alexander, actually.

People constantly rag on Ordinary People simply because it beat Raging Bull, but people should be outraged at the movies that Kramer vs Kramer beat (that'd be All That Jazz and Apocalypse Now). Yet there's never a peep about the treacly KvsK. Presumedly because it stars Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep.

Sorry - just wanted to get that off my chest.

Anonymous said...

my picks of what nat would pick last 30 years1980 - 1999

78 -fonda
79 -field
80 -spacek
81 -keaton
82 -streep
83 -streep
84 -redgrave
85 -goldberg
86 -turner
87 -cher
88 -close
89 -pfeiffer
90 -huston
91 -sarandon
92 -thompson
93 -hunter
94 -foster
95 -streep
96 -watson
97 -carter
98 -montenegro
99 -winslet

Anonymous said...

who wants to do nats supp actress picks.

Anonymous said...

In my imaginary awards world, there would be 12 lead actress double winners.

Julie Christie ('07 AWAY FROM HER and '65 DARLING)
Julianne Moore ('02 FAR FROM HEAVEN and '95 SAFE)
Shirley MacLaine ('83 TERMS OF ENDEARMENT and '60 THE APARTMENT)
Diane Keaton ('81 REDS and '77 Annie Hall)
Ingrid Bergman ('78 AUTUMN SONATA and '46 NOTORIOUS)
Barbra Streisand ('73 THE WAY WE WERE and '68 FUNNY GIRL)
Jane Fonda ('71 KLUTE and '69 THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY?)
Joan Crawford ('45 MILDRED PIERCE and '32 GRAND HOTEL)
Barbara Stanwyck ('44 DOUBLE INDEMNITY and '41 BALL OF FIRE)

Anonymous said...

Ryan, you can't double-count Brando for the Godfather and Last Tango because they were in the same year.

I'm just going to put it out there that Daniel Day-Lewis could easily get to 4 if he'd make more than one movie every five years.


glenn i've never understood the Kramer vs Kramer being treacly thing. I mean I haven't seen it in years but I remember it being very harsh about failed marriages and love gone awry that maybe wasn't even love to begin with... which doesn't seem exactly comforting.

but perhaps i'm remembering it wrong.

but that's all mute because the winner definitely shoulda been APOCALYPSE NOW or ALL THAT JAZZ, both difficult breathtaking see them numerous times masterpieces.

mr ripley you're both right and wrong. i have a lot of undecideds but it's definitely NOT goldberg in 85 or Streep in 95. I have much different favorites those years. Leaning towards Streep in 85 and an eternal battle between Elisabeth Shue and Julianne Moore in 1995

adam it's 3 for Pfeiffer yes (89,92,02) with possibilities for 1988 and 1983 as well, though I'd have to see her competitors again. I was much less impressed with her work in Dangerous Liaisons the last time I watched it. But yes if I ran the world she'd definitely have three Oscars. So I suppose that's a lot.

Other possible 3s include Meryl Streep and Kathleen Turner.

Anonymous said...

nat which streep perf in 85 i prefer plenty.


i have not seen Plenty since 1985 and at the time I preferred Out of Africa (which I haven't seen since 1988 or something...)

but something tells me i'd prefer PLENTY now... primarily because I still recall a couple of her performance moments in that one 23 years later but her perf in Out of Africa is more of a blur.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to come off sounding like a total StarFucker but .....

I had the great fortune of meeting Maureen Stapleton a few times and actually went to her house one evening a few years back.

I asked if I could hold her Oscar ... she won the same year as Hepburn .... my first thought was that it was so dull and that it didn't look 'golden' but orange.



starf***ing is underrated if you ask me.

i wish i had held a real oscar. I mean, I have but someone's like you did. what a pleasure and great story.

that gold plating must be cheap though. Only 20+ years later and it looks pretty shabby compared to the ones from the 60s

Anonymous said...

I think (and hope) Meryl will win for Doubt but the Julie & Julia film doesn't seem THAT big to me. So, her next chance will probably be August: Osage County (if she accepts, that is) although it would be very unlikely 2 wins seperated by 2(?) years. Not that it can't happen. But as much as I want Meryl to break the record (and Kate (the sweet one with the K not the cold one with the C -kidding) to win at least 1!!), I don't really believe winning is very important because 1)the reasons usually are unrelated to the actual performance and 2) I prefer the concept of 5 winners (equalizing nom with win) each having done something different than one winner that many would not find the best as it is quite subjective. I hope it made sense :p

PS: Great work Nat (good structure and smart writing)