Jane Fonda: Klute (winner)
Vanessa Redgrave: Mary, Queen of Scots
Julie Christie: McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Janet Suzman: Nicholas and Alexandra
Glenda Jackson: Sunday Bloody Sunday
I can’t say this is a category I’m looking forward to addressing. I’m not overly thrilled by most of the nominations. First, I think Vanessa Redgrave should have been nominated for The Devils rather than Mary, Queen of Scots. At the same time, I’d have rather seen Glenda Jackson nominated for Mary, Queen of Scots. I found Wanda to be a lot less than I’d hoped and it was a bit too grindhouse-y for serious Oscar contention, but Barbara Loden might have deserved some recognition. I think I can make a case for Jennifer O’Neill in Summer of ‘42. I’d be tempted to toss in Liv Ullman and The Emigrants, but she got her nomination the following year. We can add Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me, and I think I can make a case for her in a lead role. Kids don’t get a lot of nominations, but Jenny Agutter in Walkabout probably could have. Finally, I’d add Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude
Weeding through the Nominees
5. Where to start? Well, we can start based on these nominations with Vanessa Redgrave and Mary, Queen of Scots. Had she been nominated for The Devils, she wouldn’t be in fifth place. My issue with her nomination here is that she can’t command the scenes she shares with Glenda Jackson, who absolutely dominates the film. So far, it’s my favorite of Jackson’s performances, and based on that, there’s no reason that Redgrave should be in the running for this award for this performance.
4. Janet Suzman is going next with Nicholas and Alexandra specifically because of the performance itself. I think it’s a good one, but I don’t think it’s a great one, and I can’t convince myself that it’s a great one. That Suzman was nominated doesn’t really surprise me, given the scope of the film and the other nominations it received. However, she shouldn’t be here over the many more deserving performances that were ignored. There were better options for Oscar, big, blustery epic notwithstanding.
3. Had Glenda Jackson been nominated for Mary, Queen of Scots, she would contend for me, but she wasn’t. Instead, she was nominated for Sunday Bloody Sunday where she is the third most interesting character behind those played by Peter Finch and Murray Head. Again, that’s a problem for me. Anyone who wants to seriously contend for a “Best ______” Oscar should be the most magnetic person on the screen in the film. Jackson isn’t in this film, but her turn as Queen Elizabeth in Mary, Queen of Scots shows that she had that in her.
2. So what do I say about Julie Christie in McCabe & Mrs. Miller? That she’s better in the role than the three actresses listed previously in their roles? Okay, I don’t have a problem saying that. The problem is that while I remember liking the movie well enough, I also don’t have a great deal of memory of the movie, and very little memory of Julie Christie herself in one of the two titular roles. That’s a problem. I should probably rewatch it, but what I really remember of the movie is that I wanted a shower when it was done, so maybe not.
1. Jane Fonda’s performance in Klute is the first of the five where I think I can make an argument for her being here. She might not make my final list of five for this category and year, but she might, and none of the previous would. Fonda was capable of turning in a good performance, and it’s entirely possible that she was given this Oscar for what is a very good performance and for her not winning a few years earlier for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? In that respect, I think Oscar gave the statue to the right nominated person, but they didn’t nominate too well.
Honestly, I’d pick most of my suggestions from the first paragraph over the five we have. Gun to head, I think my list would run Glenda Jackson in Mary, Queen of Scots, Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude, Jennifer O’Neill in Summer of ‘42, and Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me, and either Fonda in Klute or Redgrave in The Devils. I think my winner might be Jennifer O’Neill, but I could be persuaded to pick either Jackson or Gordon. Any of those three would be a better choice than the five we got.