Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Katharine Hepburn Awards: Featured Actresses

This was the weakest of the categories. I suppose Kate had a tendency to shroud any other woman in her films. That being said, it’s a bit ironic that save for Holliday each of these women earned an Oscar nomination for the role [Liz earned a co lead nod]. I suppose that these are the right five and each has their merits but I was surprised at the lack of love for any of the Stage Door ladies. Ah well.
The Nominees

Jane Fonda in On Golden Pond
Judy Holliday in Adam’s Rib
Ruth Hussey in The Philadelphia Story
Beah Richards in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Elizabeth Taylor in Suddenly Last Summer
People are always at Jane Fonda for her performance in On Golden Pond. Undeservedly so I might add. Jane plays the daughter of Norman and Ethel Thayer. She has an exceptionally tentative relationship with her critical father and the film touches on a potential reconciliation for the two. In the early scenes she plays it all well as she comes to the eponymous golden pond, but I suppose her big moments are towards the end especially when she touches on the root of her problems with her fathers. Of course we can only assume how cathartic this performance was, especially considering that Jane was to extent estranged from her real father who played her father in the film.
Judy made her debut of sorts as a defendant in Adam’s Rib. This role was important because as history goes it was the role that Kate and co. used to let the studio cast Judy in the Broadway adaptation of her Born Yesterday which earned her an Oscar the next year. Judy is good in this. She plays her small [but important] role just right, and that confession scene in particular is exceptionally well done.
People are generally mixed on Ruth’s performance in The Philadelphia Story. Personally I found her to be a delight, so I was glad to see her nominated by you folks. Her role is small, but her caustic delivery is almost comic relief in an already funny film. The chemistry between her and the main three [Hepburn, Grant, Stewart] is good and it warrants those final moments as realistic even in their absurdity. She’s also a great addition to an already perfect film.
I’m surprised that Beah Richards earned not only a nomination here, but a nomination from the Academy. It’s the smallest of supporting roles, but it’s good nonetheless. Her big moment comes opposites Kate as she intimates her feelings on her black son’s prospective marriage to Kate’s white daughter. Her entire performance consists of facial reactions that she plays well. It’s a treasure to see this slight performance nominated. She did the best she could do and it deserved.
Elizabeth earned her first nomination in Suddenly Last Summer. This film is a bit of a guilty pleasure I suppose, and definitely one of William’s more theatrical pieces wrought with symbolism and imagery. I’m never sure if I prefer Liz to Kate in this since they are playing opposite sides of the spectrum and I know that internal competition definitely had an effect on neither of them winning that Oscar.
Are you covering any of these films for the blogathon?
Polls close on Wednesday. The results will be in on Thursday.


Alex in Movieland said...

Oops, I haven't seen Adam's Rib, but loved Judy in Born Yesterday!

I'm doing Stage Door.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I wonder if you're the only one. Everyone hates Born Yesterday by default, because she beat out Swanson/Davis. Whatever, I thought she deserved her Oscar.

Alex in Movieland said...

wait wait wait :)

I didn't say she deserved it! Bette Davis's Margo Channing is my favorite actress performance ever, so...

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

oh lord :) [rolls eyes] foot in mouth. seriously though? favourite performance ever? margo channing is not even my favourite bette davis performance. heck, i'm not sure it's my favourite in the movie even.

Alex in Movieland said...

well, geee, that's just me and a couple other (tens of) thousands of Bette fans :P

it's true: a decision taken years ago. But it's up there with Viv's Gone with the Wind, Giulietta's Nights of Cabiria, Liz's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Bjork's Dancer in the Dark...

Jude said...

LOVE these awards. One thing though, Elizabeth's first Oscar nom. came for Raintree County, not Suddenly, Last Summer (unless I'm mistaking)

joe burns said...

I voted for Fonda here. Only other nominee I saw was was Richards and I didn't care for her. Just my opinion.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

alex fine fine. i acquiesce. by the way i thought you preferred liz as maggie the cat

jude thanks for the words. and i forgot raintree country was before.

joe well you did hate the movie richards was in :)