Carrie Snodgress: Diary of a Mad Housewife
Jane Alexander: The Great White Hope
Ali MacGraw: Love Story
Sarah Miles: Ryan’s Daughter
Glenda Jackson: Women in Love (winner)
Once again we find a year where the nominations don’t really thrill me that much as a group. In Oscar’s defense for 1970, it’s a year where the men’s roles were a lot better in general. There are a few suggestions I can make here and some of them have some real teeth, but overall, it’s kind of a down year for Best Actress in general. To demonstrate just how unenthusiastic I am about the five nominations, I’m suggesting Jane Asher in Deep End as a possible replacement. I’m also seriously considering Jaroslava Schallerova in Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, a film that does everything it can to sexualize a 13-year-old girl (although that’s not specifically Schallerova’s fault). There might be some interest in Barbara Loden in Wanda, and even that is lukewarm on my part, since I didn’t like the film that much. Ultimately, that leaves me with Catherine Deneuve and Tristana. Maybe I’m watching the wrong movies from this year?
Weeding through the Nominees
5. I hate Love Story so much and because of it, I’m putting Ali MacGraw on the bottom. When I reviewed this, I more or less said this is a movie where two assholes discover love between themselves and are assholes to everyone until one of them dies. It may well be my intense dislike of this film that is speaking here—I understand that this is a possibility—but I don’t see anything nomination-worthy in this performance. Of course, I say that about the film in general, so it’s no real susprise that MacGraw is landing on the bottom.
4. I didn’t hate Ryan’s Daughter, but I also didn’t like it very much. I found the movie to be boring more than anything else. It didn’t actively aggravate me like Love Story, but it’s at least an hour longer than it needs to be, and Sarah Miles doesn’t do anything to make that time worth watching. There’s nothing specifically wrong with the performance, but there’s also nothing that great about it. It’s fine and no better than that, and that doesn’t seem to merit an Oscar nomination.
3. Continuing the same theme, I’m not entirely sure of the value of Glenda Jackson’s nomination for Women in Love. I cannot pretend to be the biggest fan of Glenda Jackson—that’s a theme that has played itself out in the pages of this blog a number of times before. I find her regularly cold and emotionless, and in a film that is supposed to be passionate, that’s a real problem. Anyway, Alan Bates is far and away the best thing in this film. In a down year like this, I’m not shocked at Jackson’s nomination, but I really don’t understand her win.
2. To continue to demonstrate just how weak a year this is for this category, putting Jane Alexander in second place for The Great White Hope is almost shocking. Once again, there’s nothing specifically wrong with the performance that we are given here. Alexander is clearly comfortable in the role and she has really good chemistry with James Earl Jones since the two played these roles together on stage. But that’s it. It’s a decent performance in a film that isn’t that interesting or great. And I’m putting her in second.
1. Who this leaves us with is Carrie Snodgress in Diary of a Mad Housewife, and in my opinion, the clear choice. It’s again in a film I didn’t like much since the film is pretty hateful, as is everyone involved, save Snodgress. She is the one spot of humanity in the entire film, the one person who seems like a real person and not something conjured from the deepest pit of Hades to afflict everyone they come across. Snodgress, in the midst of the hell of her life in this film, presents us something human and real and almost delicate. It’s a truly magnificent performance in an odious situation, and she should have been rewarded for it.