Saturday, June 5, 2010

1982 Best Actress Rankings

5. Sissy Spacek, Missing - 3 Stars

Spacek gives an effective performance as a frustrated wife trying to cut through a bureaucratic mess and find her missing husband in Missing. Spacek is perfectly serviceable in this role but she is playing second fiddle to Jack Lemmon all the way here.

4. Julie Andrews, Victor/Victoria - 3 Stars

Julie Andrews plays a woman playing a man playing a woman. This isn't your typical Julie Andrews movie that's for sure. It's a complicated challenge. And Andrews pulls it off quite effectively. The only skepticism I have about this movie is seeing her as a man. She's so feminine (in her mannerisms, voice, appearance, etc.) that it's almost impossible to think that she's a man. I also found the supporting performances by Robert Preston, James Garner, Lesley Ann Warren, and Alex Karras to have been more interesting and hilarous!

3. Debra Winger, An Officer and a Gentleman - 4 Stars

Talk about taking a thankless role and earning a Best Actress nomination out of it. How many actresses do we see in the "girlfriend" role these days that leave no impression whatsoever? Certainly not a big enough impression to earn a Best Actress nomination out of it. But Winger did just that. She wasn't the main character like Richard Gere was. She didn't have the lines and intensity that Louis Gossett Jr had. Or the sympathetic doomed fate of David Keith. Yet we are attracted to Winger's Paula. She makes us care for her. She is the local factory girl who longs for a better life. She meets Zach Mayo and would like to marry him, but she refuses to do what the other local girls are willing to do -- get pregnant or fake pregnancy to trap a future officer. Winger and Gere have tremendous chemistry and you can't help but feel good at the cheesy ending.

2. Meryl Streep, Sophie's Choice - 4 1/2 Stars

What more can we said about Meryl's performance here? It's been called by some the greatest performance by an actress ever on film. Perhaps. It's certainly great. It's not even my favorite this category but I can understand why it's so praised. It's technically perfect. Streep plays the Brooklyn scenes with an enchanting Polish-American accent and she plays the flashbacks in subtitled German and Polish. There is hardly an emotion that Streep doesn't touch in this movie, and yet we're never aware of her straining. And she has never looked more attractive on film. The climax of the movie is very devastating and wonderfully actred by Streep. The film itself I did not really enjoy. I thought Kevin Kline was just awful. The movie was pretty slow moving and certainly dragged at points.

1. Jessica Lange, Frances - 5 Stars

What? No Meryl at the top spot? Well much has been made of the Streep vs Lange 1982 race. It really is one of the best 1-2 performances in a Best Actress category. They also couldn't be more different. Jessica Lange plays Frances Farmer in an electrifying performance that is so driven and that contains so many different facets of a complex personality. She is just as good when she portrays Farmer as an uncertain teenager as she is when she plays her much later, snarling at a hairdresser and screaming at her mother. All of those contradictions were inside Farmer and to see Lange act it all out is quite something to behold. I could not take my eyes off her.


  1. Definitely hard to choose between Meryl and Jessica...

  2. I have to re-watch Frances!

  3. I'm with you. Jessica deserved Best Actress. The two performances she and Meryl gave are so different--one is poised, studied, technical, the other raw, fiery and visceral. That's Jessica's, and she nailed it.