Oscar, Oscar! Oh...I wish I had an Oscar Meyer Wiener... sorry..that just popped into my head. We are back to Oscars and this time it is about Best Actor and Best Actress which is full of delights from ones who deserved the Oscar to others that you just shake your head at. I am not going to talk about controversy or if she/she should have or shouldn't have won but just about the actor/actress that won in a film that I like and I also like the performance. Wandering Through The Shelves created this great theme fest and every year, she knocks it out of the park. OK, here are my choices and I am choosing 3 Best Actor and 3 Best Actress...
1. JAMES CAGNEY IN YANKEE DOODLE DANDY-1942
Mikhail Baryshnikov was a huge fan of James Cagney and his dancing style. When the AFI(American Film Institute) awarded Cagney with a tribute, Baryshnikov was one of the stars who showed his admiration and stated that Cagney was one of the reasons for Mikhail going into dance(he is a premier ballet dancer). Cagney portrayed the famous George M. Cohan who is known as the man who owned Broadway and is credited for originating the American Musical Comedy. Cohan was a dancer, actor, composer, etc... Cagney knew how to create the bigger than life character including the style of dancing which stuck with Cagney as well. We know Cagney mainly as a gangster or a cop who is rough around and inside all the edges. This is a full on, patriotic, dancing filibuster of a movie that came out when the U.S. was entering WW2. I do groan when I see Cohan's parents come out as Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty but it was the sign of these times and Cagney gives it his all.
2. WILLIAM HOLDEN IN STALAG 17-1953
I love this film which is a dark comedy. William Holden plays it straight and he is not well liked by most of the men in the camp. He can squire anything, is sarcastic, doesn't play nice and dislikes most of them men as well, so that makes them even. When information keeps getting linked to the German guards, Holden is the first one they look at and quickly beat up believing he is the fink. You also learn about many of the men who live on the barracks which includes the 2 biggest oafs who always do something funny or stupid...or both. They are played so well by Robert Strauss and Harvey Lembeck that they almost steal the show. This is a great war film that inspired Hogan's Heroes.
3. SIDNEY POITIER IN LILIES OF THE FIELD-1963
This is the first time that an African American won best actor and the 2nd time an African American won the Oscar(the first was Hattie McDaniel). I really liked Poitier's performance in this film where he matches wits with a German nun and, despite living a nomadic lifestyle, ends up helping a bunch of German nuns set up shop, sort of speak, in a small, desert-like community. It is quite a good film and the leading reason is Poitier and his relationship with the nun, played by Lilia Skala. He stumbles upon their abode and before he knows it, he is helping them build a church and both become enriched by their friendship. I would love to see this film again.
Now on to Best Actress...
1. BETTE DAVIS IN JEZEBEL-1938
Apparently, Bette Davis landed this part when she lost the role of Scarlett O'Hara(Thank goodness) and, boy, does she know how to make a performance Oscar worthy. This is the Deep South when we are supposed to respect this high society and their, um, genteel ways(how they got to be known as genteel when they had slaves, I will never understand). Now, remember this was a film from a different time so we must watch it in this way. We have spoiled snot Bette Davis who is engaged to the handsome banker, Henry Fonda. She is always up for a fight(just like Davis) and speaks her own mind(oh my!). She wants to prove that she has her own mind and flips the bird at genteel convention by actually wearing a red dress at a ball, instead of white, even though she is single(I would be wearing red too...bring on the jezebel). Things don't go as planned and she feels mortified especially when Fonda leaves after dancing with her. When he finally returns, he comes with a wife but Davis has no idea. This is quite a good film with wonderful performances by all but Davis shines as the snotty little bitch.
2. OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND IN THE HEIRESS-1949
Talk about a juicy part in an excellent film that truly shows what a great actress Olivia was. This legendary actress passed away last year at the age of 104 and, with her, one of the last of the great film stars of yesteryear. She lives with her cold, unloving father and her aunt and is considered an old maid where her father berates her for not being pretty enough. In comes the beautiful Montgomery Clift who has eyes only for her and possibly her inheritance. Despite her father's nasty attempts to show her the truth about the man, she refuses to believe him and waits for her handsome betrothed to take her away from her miserable father. Will he take her away? What happens to her? The change in the young woman, all shy and sensitive to someone bold and all knowing could only have been played by an accomplished actress like De Havilland.
3. JUDY HOLLIDAY IN BORN YESTERDAY-1950
I just re-watched this film about a week ago and Judy Holliday is pure magic. It is such a shame she died too young from cancer (43) but, at least, we have a few gems like this classic comedy, with dramatic overtones. We have this brutish, stupid bully(no, he is not orange in the face with truly horrible hair) who comes to Washington DC to buy a few senators to get his own way but he feels his girlfriend needs some "classing up and to not make her so dumb looking". Enter William Holden who was to interview the bully but decides to take on the prospect of teaching Ms. Holiday some pointers about what makes their Country so great. From his teaching, she begins to learn that there is more to life than jewels and fur and she realizes she has a lot more brains and understanding of human nature than the oaf she has spent most of her life with. She creates a character that you fall in love with because she is eager to learn and, watching her outwit the numbnut she is with, is just very funny. The Gin Rummy game is justifiably famous.
Which actors and actresses, who have won a best Oscar would you choose?