I just got around to watching “The Blind Side,” an entertaining though predictable movie about an affluent Memphis white woman, Leigh Anne Tuohy, who adopted a very large (offensive tackle large) black youth and drove him to qualify for a football scholarship at “Ole Miss,” the alma mater of the woman and her husband. Sandra Bullock plays the feisty woman not fulfilled by being one of the Memphis “ladies who lunch” at expensive restaurants. She earned my admiration in a scene in which she takes on a gang leader, but did Bullock deserve the best actress Academy Award she won for her performance? I’m not sure how feisty the actress is offscreen, but there is no question that her accent is not Mississippi or Tennessee (she was born in the northern edge of Virginia, Arlington, graduated from East Carolina University, and her father was from Alabama, but she grew up in Germany).
I was rooting for the master of accents, Meryl Streep to win the award for playing a better-known real character, Julia Child (in “Julie and Julia,” though handicappers were correct that Bullock would win the Oscar as well as the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild award. Although I think that Streep shoulda won, the 2009 award was more plausible than many others in the checkered history of decisions by the membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Having second-guessed the most dubious Oscars for best actor and for best picture, the temptation to look over the best actress ones proved irresistible. Again, “ya can’t beat somethin’ with nothin’” and I am not going to get into who should have been nominated (very much), but, in effect, cast my own votes for the candidates nominated, beginning in 1927. (I did not look at the winners of the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award until in effect completing my ballot. My confidence in my own choices was bolstered both in the cases in which I agree with the Oscar results and those in which I don’t, but did not influence my “votes.”)
Though I have not seen the other competitors for the first one (Gloria Swanson and Marie Dressler), Janet Gaynor won the first one in three movies that have become silent classics (and are available on DVD: Seventh Heaven, Street Angel, and Sunrise).
I think that Mary Pickford won the second one for her career as “America’s sweetheart.” I was not impressed with her “Coquette,” but have not seen the other movies with nominated performances.
Despite being nominated against herself in 1930,winning for “The Divorcee,” also nominated for “Their Own Desire,” I have not seen the latter. The only nominated performance I have seen was Greta Garbo’s (“Garbo Talks”) waterfront prostitute in Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie,” which is not compellingly superior, though would get my vote.
I like Marie Dressler’s tough old broad persona, but see nothing special about its display in “Min and Bill.” Marlene Dietrich’s Amy Jolly in Josef von Sternberg’s “Morocco” opposite Gary Cooper gets my vote.
The next three years, the number of nominees shrank from five to three. I’d vote “No” for the first two. Maybe had Dressler not won a dubious one, her “Emma” might get my vote for 1932. Helen Hayes certainly did not deserve an award in the title role of “The Sin of Madelon Claudet,” and her fellow stage star Lynne Fontanne was also very hammy (stagy) in “The Guardsman” with her husband Alfred Lunt.
For 1933, I am totally unimpressed with the best picture winner, “Cavalcade.” Diana Wynyard was OK in it. May Robson gave the kind of sentimental old broad performance that Marie Dressler specialized in as Apple Annie in Frank Capra’s “Lady for a Day.” I guess in 1933 Katharine Hepburn was fresh as well as awkward. There is less reason to take her Oscar for “Morning Glory” away than for some later ones. The unnominated Marlene Dietrich as “Shanghai Lily” in “Shanghai Express” shoulda won, IMO.
Claudette Colbert’s in the sweep of major awards for Frank Capra’s screwball comedy “It Happened One Night” has my full approval. Norman Shearer was fine as Elizabeth Barrett in “The Barrets of Wimpole Street.” The Academy announced that Shearer came in second, and Betty Davis’s trollop Mildred in “Of Human Bondage” was written in by more voters than the third nominee, Grace Moor (One Night of Love) received.
The first “we’ll give you won now for the one you lost” best-actress Oscar seems to have been awarded to Bette Davis. She was good in “Dangerous” and was aided by two of the other nominees having won Oscars in the preceding two years. Miriam Hopkins came in second as “Becky Sharp.” Maybe she won, but I wouldn’t try to wrest one of the Oscars she did win from Davis! (Greta Garbo, who won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award as Anna Karenina was not nominated.)
Luise Rainer won the 1936 Oscar for her phone scene in “The Great Ziegfeld.” I’d vote for Carole Lombard in the screwball comedy “My Man Godfrey,” look askance at the nomination of Shearer as a way post-adolescent Juliet, and ponder the strong field of nominees the next year.
Luise Rainer was great as the Chinese peasant O-Lan in the adaptation of Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, but so was Janet Gaynor as Mrs. Norman Maine in ” Star Is Born.” Garbo was at her zenith as “Camille,” and Irene Dunne was superb a second year in a row in a classic screwball comedy (The Awful Truth”; she’d been nominated in 1936 for “Theodora Goes Wild” and in 1931 in the turgid Edna Ferber melodrama “Cimarron”). My vote goes to Garbo, but I would not overturn the decision of Academy voters.
Wendy Hiller’s Eliza Doolittle deserved serious consideration for 1938, but Bette Davis was great in William Wyler’s melodrama of a headstrong Southern belle, “Jezebel.”
As was Vivien Leigh’s headstrong Southern belle in “Gone with the Wind” in 1939, overwhelming “Garbo Laughs” (Ninotchka), Dunne again (Love Affair), and a Bette Davis performance in “Dark Victory” that was definitely superior to her winning one in “Dangerous”-but not to Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara.
Davis should have won the next year in “The Letter.” It’s hard to begrudge Ginger Rogers a lifetime achievement award, but her “Kitty Foyle” did not deserve an award in competition with Davis’s murderess in “The Letter” or Joan Fontaine’s second Mrs. De Winter in Alfred Hithcock’s Gothic “Rebecca” (that year’s best picture winner).
Fontaine then won he next year-directed again by Alfred Hitchcock in “Suspicion.” I’d say that Bette Davis was better in “The Little Foxes,” as was Fontaine’s real-life sister, Olivia de Havilland in “Hold Back the Dawn,” but IMO the winner should have been Barbara Stanwyck in “Ball of Fire.”
Greer Garson was nominated in 1941 in “Blossoms in the Dust.” Her award the next year for the title role in the best picture-winning William Wyler homefront bravery movie “Mrs. Miniver” was not a consolation prize. Garson was outstanding in it. Davis turned in another iconic performance in “Now, Voyager,” and would get my vote, though Garson’s award was not a miscarriage of justice.
Garson was nominated again the next year as “Madame Curie.” I enjoy Jean Arthur in George Stevens’s wartime housing crunch in DC comedy, “The More the Merrier,” but would concur with Jennifer Jones’s winning 1943 performance in “The Song of Bernadette.” (Ida Lupino’s performance in “The Hard Way,” which won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award was not nominated.)
Ingrid Bergman was nominated in an iconic role in “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in 1943, which probably gave her some edge, though her performance as Paula Anton being “gaslighted” in George Cukor’s adaptation of the play “Gaslight” was also iconic. Bette Davis was almost as good as Claude Rains in “Mr. Skeffington,” but the best performance by a nominated actress for 1944 was Barbara Stanwyck’s femme fatale in Billy Wilder’s incendiary noir “Double Indemnity.”
Joan Crawford’s nourish comeback as “Mildred Pierce” was not IMO a lifetime achievement award. Three of the four other 1944 nominees had won Oscars in the preceding years and none was as compelling as Crawford in her mink coat with the daughter from hell (Ann Blyth) poaching her boyfriend (the oily Zachary Scott). The only competition was Gene Tierney in “Leave Her to Heaven.” (Tallulah Bankhead’s memorable time in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat,” which won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award, was not nominated.)
Olivia de Haviland copped the statuette in 1946 for the soap opera “To Each His Own.” I like Jane Wyman’s mother in “The Yearling,” and would be tempted to vote for Celia Johnson in “Brief Encounter,”(which won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award), but have a soft spot for de Haviland. (Wyman’s statuette was coming…)
Though a change-up (often rewarded by the Academy), Loretta Young as “The Farmer’s Daughter” is not a compelling performance, either. The competition in 1947 was not very strong, though I’d have voted for Susan Hayward in “Smash-Up,” I think. Deborah Kerr, who won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for “Black Narcissus” and “I See a Dark Stranger” was not nominated.)
Jane Wyman got her award for a change-up role as “Johnny Belinda.” She was very good. I’d have voted for Olivia de Haviland in “The Snake Pit” (an insane asylum). Recurrently nominated never-winners Barbara Stanwyck and Irene Dune lost again (Sorry, Wrong Number and I Remember Mama), as did Bergman’s Joan of Arc.
De Haviland’s Oscar in “The Heiress” (based on Henry James’s Washington Square) has been cited by some as another consolation prize for not winning the year before. I think that those who have said so have not seen either her or her competition (including Loretta Young as a nun, and Deborah Kerr’s first nomination). De Haviland’s performance also won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award both in 1948 for “The Snake Pit” and in 1949″ as “The Heiress.”
The miscarriage of justice was 1950. Hey, I like Judy Holliday in general and in “Born Yesterday,” but who remembers it in contrast to Bette Davis’s Margo Channing in Joseph Mankiewicz’s “All About Eve” (the movie that won best picture and director) and Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s Hollywood Grand Guignol (noir?) “Sunset Boulevard.” Who even remembers the name of Holliday’s character? (Billie Dawn). I give two in retrospect. (Davis won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1950, btw.)
They got it right the next year with another household name character, Blanche DuBois, played by an older and crazier (not just on screen) Scarlett O’Hara, Vivien Leigh.
On my retally, Shirley Booth can keep her Oscar for 1952’s “Come Back, Little Sheba,” (it also won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award), though Julie Harris’s Frankie in “The Member of the Wedding” warranted consideration; Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Susan Hayward were all good, but not better.
I’d hate to take away Audrey Hepburn’s Oscar for the 1953 “Roman Holiday,” though I’m tempted to reassign it to Deborah Kerr in “From Here to Eternity.”
Hepburn lost the next year (as Sabrina). I thought Grace Kelly was good as “The Country Girl,” but the award should have gone to Judy Garland as another Mrs. Norman Maine in “A Star Is Born.” And Kelly was more memorable that year in two Hitchcock movies, “Rear Window” and “Dial M for Murder.” She won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for the cumulation of three movie roles.)
1955 Anna Magnani, “Rose Tattoo,” the right choice. (The New York Film Critics agreed.) Susan Hayward built up some more steam, though in “I’ll Cry Tomorrow.”
1956 Ingrid Bergman’s glorious return after being denounced in the US Senate won not only the Oscar but the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award. I like Deborah Kerr in the preposterous “The King and I,” but she ne’re would win. She was less showy the next year as a nun in “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison” (Robert Mitchum being Mr. Allison) than Joanne Woodward as the schizophrenic “Three Faces of Eve.” Kerr won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1957, however. Elizabeth Taylor did not need to win for “The Raintree Country” in 1957.
But as Maggie the Cat in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” she did deserve to win. If not her, Rosalind Russell’s “Auntie Mame,” but the overdue Susan Hayward won for “I Want to Live!”(which also received the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1958, btw.) I think that it was the wrong choice, but it’s understandable in the waiting for the award “logic” of many Academy voters.
Elizabeth Taylor did not deserve to win for “Suddenly, Last Summer” (though more than Katharine Hepburn, who was also nominated in the same movie. Audrey Hepburn was great in “The Nun’s Story,” but surprise winner Simone Signoret as the older woman dumped by Laurence Harvey in search of “Room at the Top” is a favorite of mine.
I think that Deborah Kerr was overdue for the Oscar and should have won it for “The Sundowners” in 1960. (She again won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award,) Having been nominated the previous three years and surviving a tracheotomy, Elizabeth Taylor received an Oscar she did not deserve as the call-girl (though this had to be obscured by the Production Code” at “BUtterfield 8.” I’m puzzled that Jean Simmons’s performance Sister Sharon in “Elmer Gantry” was not nominated (Shirley Jones was best supporting actress and Burt Lancaster best actor in the movie.)
There was a strong field of nominees in 1961: Piper Laurie in “The Hustler,” Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Geraldine Page’s first nomination in “Summer and Smoke,” and Natalie Wood going crazy in “Splendor in the Grass” the same year as “West Side Story” in which she played the lead swept the Oscars. I guess Sophia Loren was a dark horse, but she became the first actor or actress to win an Oscar in a film not in English, in “Two Women,” which was directed by Vittorio De Sica who brought out some of her best performances (Marriage, Italian Style; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow). Loren also won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1962, btw.
There’s no denying Anne Bancroft, repeating her Broadway triumph as “The Miracle Worker,” even against the one time I think Katharine Hepburn was called upon really to act, in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Geraldine Page was even better than the previous year in another Tennessee Williams’s adaptation “Sweet Bird of Youth.” Bette Davis was memorable as Baby Jane Hudson, torturing Joan Crawford in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” and Lee Remick turned in a fine performance as a lush in “Days of Wine and Roses.” Tough competition.
Alma Brown in “Hud” (1963) seems like a supporting role, and I’d like to have given Patricia Neal the award for that, so the best actress one could have gone to Leslie Caron as the unmarried young pregnant woman in “The L-Shaped Room.” Constrained to the nominations that existed, I’d give Oscars to them both. (Neal also won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award.)
Audrey Hepburn famously was not nominated in 1964 for playing Eliza Doolittle in that year’s best-picture winner, “My Fair Lady.” Her costar, Rex Harrison, was the least deserving of the five nominees for best actor IMO, and the Broadway Eliza, Julie Andrews got an Oscar in “Mary Poppins” as a consolation prize for losing the role. But who should have won? Maybe Sophia Loren in “Marriage, Italian Style,” but aside from having won recently (ditto for Anne Bancroft, nominated in 1964 for madwoman scenery-chewing in “The Pumpkin Eater”) the case for a mistake in voting (as opposed to the slight in nominating) is not overwhelming. Breaking my rules, I’d have split the award between two actresses who were not nominated: Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr in “Night of the Iguana.” (If I have to choose one, Gardner.) Kim Stanley who was nominated for an Oscar won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1964.
I thought Andrews was better as Maria von Trapp in “The Sound of Music” (1965) than as “Mary Poppins” (1964). I adore Simone Signoret, but her drug-addicted countess was not a lead role. I also adore Julie Christie, though not especially in her Oscar-winning (and New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award winning) role in “Darling,” so I guess the award should have gone either to Samantha Eggar, the collected art student in “The Collector” or Elizabeth Hartman’s blind girl in “A Patch of Blue.” (Shelley Winters won as her mother).
Elizabeth Taylor’s second Oscar was deserved, playing Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?” (to her husband’s George, the only one of the four characters not to win an Oscar that year). I’d like an additional one to give Ida Kaminska as the senile old Jewish woman in the Slovakian “The Shop on Main Street.” (The New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award gave one to Taylor and another to Lynn Redgrave’s “Georgy Girl”)
Another very impressive performance as a confused old woman was delivered in 1967 by Edith Evans in “The Whisperers.” It won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award. Audrey Hepburn received her last nomination as the blind woman in “Wait Until Dark” terrorized by Alan Arkin. Anne Bancroft’s Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate” was a supporting role. The actress I’d choose is Faye Dunaway’s Bonnie Parker in “Bonnie and Clyde.” My last choice would be the winner, Katharine Hepburn in the saccharine “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
She was better the next year as Eleanor of Aquitaine, for which she received her third Oscar in “The Lion in Winter” in a tie with Barbra Streisand’s Fannie Brice in “Funny Girl.” Patricia Neal was great as Martin Sheen’s mother in “The Subject Was Roses,” as was Joanne Woodward in “Rachel, Rachel.” Woodward received the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 19698
Maggie Smith earned her 1969 Oscar in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” Jane Fonda might have won the Oscar as the determined hoofer in the marathon “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” but was going to be rewarded down the line. She did win the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1969.
I’d choose Jane Alexander in “The Great White Hope” over Glenda Jackson in the tedious “Women in Love” for 1970, though Jackson also picked up the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1970.
I though Jackson was more compelling as the female in a love triangle the next year in “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.” Jane Fonda was excellent as the prostitute used as bait by Donald Sutherland in “Klute.” My vote, however, is for Julie Christie’s Mrs. Miller in Robert Altman’s revisionist western “McCabe and Mrs. Miller.”
Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret” (1972)? Wilkomen. Diana Ross was good but not at channeling Billie Holiday in “Lady Sings the Blues.”
Glenda Jackson rather surprisingly won a second Oscar in 1973 for “A Touch of Class.” I’d go with Joanne Woodward in “Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams” (she won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award again) or Barbra Streisand in “The Way We Were.”
Gena Rowlands was great in 1974’s “A Woman Under the Influence,” but I’m quite content to ratify Ellen Burstyn’s Oscar for “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”
I was underwhelmed by “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the second movie to sweep best picture, director, actor, and actress with Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched, but the field was weak. Isabelle Adjani won the 1975 New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award in the title role of “The Story of Adele H[ugo],” another movie by which I was underwhelmed.
Faye Dunaway picked up an Oscar for “Network” in 1976. I’d give it to Sissy Spacek’s “Carrie,” but just as Dunaway won after not winning for “Bonnie and Clyde,” Spacek got one later in the queue.
I’m not enthusiastic about Diane Keaton’s “Annie Hall” award in 1977. I liked both Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine in “The Turning Point” and Jane Fonda in “Julia.” Especially since Jane Fonda was getting one the next year, I lean to Marsha Mason’s single mom in “The Goodbye Girl.”
And Ingrid Bergman for “Autumn Sonata” rather than Jane Fonda in “Coming Home.” Bergman won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1978.
Having lost as “An Unmarried Woman” in 1978, Jill Clayburgh lost again in 1979 for “Starting Over.” I’ll ratify Sally Field’s “Norma Rae” winning in an unimpressive lot. (Field also won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award.)
Sissy Spacek got her Oscar in 1980 for playing Loretta Lynn, the “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (which also won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award). I am more impressed by Mary Tyler Moore’s uptight suburban mother in “Ordinary People,” and cast my retrospective vote for Gena Rowlands as “Gloria.”
Though I think that Katharine Hepburn was good in “On Golden Pond,” I like Susan Sarandon in “Atlantic City” and Meryl Streep in “The French Lieutenant’s Woman.” Glenda Jackson (supported by Mona Washbourne) was excellent as poet Stevie Smith in “Stevie.” She won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1981, but did not receive an Oscar nomination.
Streep would win in 1982 in “Sophie’s Choice.” I concur with the choice (also that of New York Film Critics Circle), though Jessica Lange’s Frances Farmer in “Frances” provided serious competition.
Shirley MacLaine finally got an Oscar in 1983 for “Terms of Endearment.” Meryl Streep was outstanding as Karen Silkwood in “Silkwood,” but… And MacLaine also won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1983.
For 1984, Vanessa Redgrave as Olive Chancellor in the adaptation of Henry James’s “The Bostonians” over Sally Field in “Places in the Heart,” but not an atrocious choice (despite the notorious “You really like me” acceptance speech). Peggy Ashcroft’s Mrs. Moore in “A Passage to India” which won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1984 received the best supporting actress Oscar. (Judy Davis was nominated for best actress for her role in “Passage.”)
Geraldine Page was overdue and won an Oscar in 1985 for “The Trip to Bountiful.” Meryl Streep provided strong competition as Karen Blixen (before becoming the writer Isak Dinesen, author of Out of Africa).
I don’t find any compelling alternative to Marlee Matlin’s “Children of a Lesser God” for 1986, but would choose Holly Hunter in “Broadcast News” over Cher in “Moonstruck” for 1987, though I don’t think the choice was atrocious. (I also think there was some of ye olde Academy compensatory logic in that Cher should have won the supporting actress award in 1983 for her lesbian role in “Silkwood.”) Hunter won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1987.
And I’d choose Glenn Close’s Marquise Isabelle de Merteuiin “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988) over Jodie Foster in “The Accused,” while stipulating that Foster was really, really good in a very difficult role. So was Sigourney Weaver as Diane Fossey in “Gorillas in the Mist” and Michelle Pfeiffer, who won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 1989, in “The Fabulous Baker Boys.”
I love Jessica Tandy and she was superb as Miss Daisy in “Driving Miss Daisy,” but my vote gores to Jessica Lange in “Music Box” for 1989.
Similarly, I love Kathy Bates and she was terrifyingly good in “Misery,” but I’d choose Anjelica Huston in “The Grifters.” I also loved Meryl Streep in “Postcards from the Edge.”
I despise the publicity for serial killers. Jodie Foster, again, was excellent in her second Oscar-winning performance in “The Silence of the Lambs.” I’d go with Susan Sarandon’s Louise in “Thelma & Louise.” Yeah, Sarandon’s award was coming and the vote was probably split with Geena Davis’s Thelma.
Because Emma Thompson won in 1992 for “Howard’s End,” I can’t regret too keenly her not winning the next year for “The Remains of the Day.” I love Holly Hunter, who I think should have won in 1986, but in 1993 Angela Bassett’s Tina Turner should have won (“What’s Love Got to Do with It,” with Laurence Fishburne as a very scary Ike).
Jessica Lange got an overdue Oscar in “Blue Sky” in 1994, a movie few saw, but the competition was weak.
In contrast, 1995 provided five performances that might have won in other years. Susan Sarandon’s Sister Helen Prejean won. Meryl Streep was SO good as an Italian war bride in Iowa in Clint Eastwood’s “The Bridges of Madison County,” Emma Thompson was so good in her own adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility,” Sharon Stone was also compelling in “Casino,” and Elisabeth Shue in “Leaving Las Vegas” may have been best of all (more deserving than her costar who did win, Nicolas Cage). But I’m a major Susan Sarandon fame going back to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” so no complaint about the choice from me.
Or about Frances McDormand’s pregnant sheriff in “Fargo” (though I don’t like the movie and think Emily Watson was awesome in “Breaking the Waves” and won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award).
I enjoyed Helen Hunt in “As Good as It Gets” (1997). Was she better than Julie Christie in “Afterglow”? Helena Bonham Carter in “The Wings of the Dove”? Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria (aka “Mrs. Brown”? Probably not, but not an atrocious choice. Christie won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award.
I don’t think that Gwyneth Paltrow deserved an Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love.” My 1998 choice is Fernanda Montenegro’s cranky letter writer in “Central Station.”
I never believed Hilary Swank as a boy in “Boys Don’t Cry,” but don’t find a compelling alternative (I haven’t seen Meryl Streep in “Music of the Heart”; I have, however, seen Annette Bening over the top in “American Beauty”…)
I think Ellen Burstyn’s painkiller junkie in “Requiem for a Dream” deserved to win in 2000, though Julia Roberts was quite good as Erin Brockovich.
I think that Nicole Kidman’s high-priced consumptive courtesan Satine in “Moulin Rouge” shoulda won, with Sissy Spacek “In the Bedroom” as my second choice. She was the first choice of the won the New York Film Critics Circle, btw. Halle Berry won what I consider an affirmative action award in “Monster’s Ball” along with Denzel Washington’s only somewhat more worthy one in “Training Day” in 2001.
Kidman won in 2002 in what was a supporting role in “The Hours.” Meryl Streep was not even nominated as the lesbian mother in the same movie. (Diane Lane was nominated in “Unfaithful” and won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 2002).
Charlize Theron gave a committed playing-against-type performance in “Monster.” I thought Samantha Morton was underappreciated for “In America,” but had no chance with Academy voters. (Hope Davis won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for her performances in “American Splendor” and “The Secret Lives of Dentists,” both of which were good, but less showy than Theron’s Oscar-winning one.)
Hilary Swank was very impressive in Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby.” So was Imelda Staunton in the title role of Mike Leigh’s “Vera Drake.” The New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award seems enough for Staunton. (I don’t want to be too influenced by the Academy “She already won one” to erase Swank’s second one.)
I haven’t seen four of the five 2005 nominees, including winner Reese Witherspoon as June Carter in “Walk the Line.” (a performance that also garnered the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 2005).The one I saw, Judi Dench in “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” I liked, but I don’t have a basis for second-guessing the 2005 choice.
Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” would have won in some years, but not against the juggernaut of awards Helen Mirren’s Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen” won (reinforced by Mirren’s multiple award-winning performance as Elizabeth I in a tv miniseries the same year.)
I really, really, really wanted Julie Christie to win in 2007 for “Away from Her,” but as Édith Piaf, Marion Cotillard was compelling in “La Vie en Rose,” a rare award for a performance in a movie not in English. Christie won her third New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award, nonetheless.
I think Meryl Streep’s Sister Aloysius Beauvier in “Doubt” deserved to win. On her fifth nomination Kate Winslet won in “The Reader,” which was not even her best performance in a 2008 movie (that was in “Revolutionary Road,” a movie I thought overrated. The winner of the 2008 New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award, Sally Hawkins, in Mike Leigh’s “Happy Go-Lucky” was not nominated for an Oscar. (I’d give her Anne Hathaway’s from the obnoxious “Rachel Getting Married.”)
Which gets us back to Bullock over Streep=. Though I regret the choice, I can’t get worked up about. (Streep won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Award for 2009 and ain’t done yet).