Lynn Redgrave: Georgy Girl
Anouk Aimee: A Man and a Woman
Vanessa Redgrave: Morgan—A Suitable Case for Treatment
Ida Kaminska: The Shop on Main Street
Elizabeth Taylor: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (winner)
There are some interesting nominations for Best Actress in 1966, including a pair for non-English language performances. As usual, I’m going to offer a few suggestions, because, while I like a few of these, a few others seem ridiculous to me. We already have a couple of non-English performances, but I’d love to see both Jitka Cerhova and Ivana Karbanova here for Daisies, and yes, I know they are both controversial picks. Another non-English duo would be Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann for Persona. To round out the non-English possibilities, we can include Anne Wiazemsky in Au Hasard Balthazar. Vanessa Redgrave is already here, but she could just as easily be her for Blow-Up. I’d love to include Claudia Cardinale for The Professionals, but she’s almost certainly supporting. While Fahrenheit 451 is a weird adaptation, I love Julie Christie in it. Finally, I offer up Salome Jens in Seconds, a film that flew under everyone’s radar come award time.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. I would so much rather have Vanessa Redgrave here for Blow-Up than for Morgan, a film where she clearly doesn’t deserve the nomination. Honestly, the only person worth mentioning for Morgan is David Warner, who is great in it. Regrave being brought up for this so depressing considering the other performances from this year. On top of that, it’s a performance that feels much closer to supporting than lead, so it’s not just a bad nomination, it’s category fraud.
4. The Shop on Main Street is one of those movies that everyone should see at least once for the power of the story. I don’t hate that Ida Kaminska was nominated for her performance, but I can’t help but feel that she’s never the most interesting person on the screen. This film is so dominated by the performance of Jozef Kroner that it’s amazing to me that she was nominated and he wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong—Kaminska is good and even great in this, but Kroner is so towering that it’s almost impossible to see her.
3. It’s perhaps unfair to the other Redgrave that I’m penalizing her for my general dislike of Georgy Girl. This is a film that could have been good but simply isn’t. The shame is that it’s such a good performance in a film that doesn’t deserve it. Lynn Redgrave gives everything she can to this role, and while I don’t hate the nomination, I so wish it could have been in a better film. Redgrave’s honest performance deserved a better fate and a better vehicle. The film isn’t worth seeing, but if it were, it would be for her.
2. It’s near criminal that A Man and a Woman is the only Oscar nomination for Anouk Aimee and that she didn’t win. As one of the true darlings of the French New Wave, Aimee should be better known to movie fans both serious and casual. Here, paired with the always-excellent Jean-Louis Trintignant, Aimee not only holds her own but manages to charm in every frame that she is in. In a year with a less dominant performance, I would give her the Oscar without question, and I would happily listen to arguments for this year as well. She’s just off the top tier of the dais for me, though.
1. It was probably inevitable that Elizabeth Taylor would win a couple of Oscars. Her win for BUtterfield 8 was likely compensation for a few years when she could have and didn’t win (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof comes to mind). For Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Liz could proudly stand up and claim that she won on her own merits and the merits of the performance. She’s as good as she ever was here, and while you could never really know what you were going to get when Liz stepped in front of the camera, when she was good, there was no one like here. Oscar got this one right.