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Oscar '72: Unfairness?

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The reason I am starting this thread is because I watched FAT CITY (1972) last night. It had been ages, and I had forgotten how good Susan Tyrrell's performance was. I read that she was nominated for an Oscar but did not win. I wondered how this superb actress did not win. Then I looked at the list of nominees that year for the Best Supporting Actress category.

Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 9.57.35 AM

Admittedly that's an impressive group and they all did sensational work. There easily could have been a five-way tie as far as I'm concerned. But I still think Tyrrell is just slightly better than the rest.

I don't want to slight Heckart since I enjoy watching her in BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE and in other films and television roles. But where I think it's unfair is that unlike Tyrrell and the other nominees, Heckart had a whole year to perfect her part on Broadway, from October 21, 1969 to October 11, 1970. You could technically argue that the hundreds of performances she did with the Mrs. Baker character on Broadway were "rehearsal" for her on-camera performance of the same role. Meanwhile, Tyrrell, Berlin, Page and Winters had considerably less rehearsal and preparation time for their roles which did not originate on stage. 

That makes what Tyrrell does in FAT CITY even more impressive because she had considerably less time to nail a much more complex character.

Thoughts...?

Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 10.10.45 AM

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I haven't seen Pete 'N Tillie, but I saw the other four, and while it's a tight match, I think I would have gone with Jeannie Berlin, who is the most charming and sympathetic presence in The Heartbreak Kid. And when she gets her heart broken, my heart broke for her as well. Wonderful work. Among unnominated work, I wish Madeline Kahn had been nominated for playing in What's Up Doc;Ida Lupino was wonderful in her limited time in Junior Bonner; Geraldine Page had a good one-scene role in JW Coop; Anna Massey was nicely understated in Frenzy; and Janet Leigh was deliciously brassy in One is a Lonely Number.

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9 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

I haven't seen Pete 'N Tillie, but I saw the other four, and while it's a tight match, I think I would have gone with Jeannie Berlin, who is the most charming and sympathetic presence in The Heartbreak Kid. And when she gets her heart broken, my heart broke for her as well. Wonderful work. Among unnominated work, I wish Madeline Kahn had been nominated for playing in What's Up Doc;Ida Lupino was wonderful in her limited time in Junior Bonner; Geraldine Page had a good one-scene role in JW Coop; Anna Massey was nicely understated in Frenzy; and Janet Leigh was deliciously brassy in One is a Lonely Number.

Yes, it was an incredible year for supporting actresses. Lots of marvelous performances on film in 1972.

As for Berlin, I think she got better with age. She's the best thing in Woody Allen's CAFE SOCIETY (2016). In fact I wish Allen would make a film starring Jeannie Berlin and Julie Kavner as feuding sisters. That would be a blast.

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Oscar was way unfair in 1972. Stacy Keach was so real in Fat City that he should have run away with the Best Actor award. Think they gave it to some mannered fakey performance--can't remember the guy's name.

The New York Film Critics' Circle actually changed its rules in mid-vote so that Keach wouldn't win. He had a plurality of votes, which was enough under the existing rules.

Susan Tyrrell was outstanding, although so was Eileen Heckart, who perhaps should already have won for The Bad Seed.

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4 hours ago, kingrat said:

Oscar was way unfair in 1972. Stacy Keach was so real in Fat City that he should have run away with the Best Actor award. Think they gave it to some mannered fakey performance--can't remember the guy's name.

The New York Film Critics' Circle actually changed its rules in mid-vote so that Keach wouldn't win. He had a plurality of votes, which was enough under the existing rules.

Susan Tyrrell was outstanding, although so was Eileen Heckart, who perhaps should already have won for The Bad Seed.

Heckart had been on Broadway in the stage version of "The Bad Seed," refining that role for ten months before she transferred the performance on to film.

Anyone who is recreating a long-running stage role in the subsequent film version has a distinct advantage over someone who is creating a new character from an original screenplay. Something about it seems unfair.

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I thought Julia Ann Robinson was striking in The King of Marvin Gardens.  She died in an apartment fire a few years after the movie came out.  Among English language movies, the performances in Frenzy were very striking.

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8 hours ago, kingrat said:

Oscar was way unfair in 1972. Stacy Keach was so real in Fat City that he should have run away with the Best Actor award. Think they gave it to some mannered fakey performance--can't remember the guy's name.

And, going across the board, Unfair 1972 is still remembered for Joel Grey winning Best Supporting Actor for Cabaret, who had already won a Tony for playing the role on Broadway, unlike Al Pacino in The Godfather.

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11 hours ago, EricJ said:

And, going across the board, Unfair 1972 is still remembered for Joel Grey winning Best Supporting Actor for Cabaret, who had already won a Tony for playing the role on Broadway, unlike Al Pacino in The Godfather.

Yes, that was a bit of an upset, wasn't it? 

The Academy has two separate categories for writing-- original screenplay AND adaptation. 

I think the actors should have separate categories also-- best original performance (meaning it's a new character created for the screen) and best adapted performance (which would cover roles already done on Broadway or television).

It really is not fair that some performers only get a few weeks to rehearse and prepare, while others come to the movie set having already spent months perhaps a whole year or more getting it just right.

***

Here's an analogy. Let's say that you are I are going to compete against each other at the Grand Prix. But for over a year, you have been on the track every day practicing how to drive it just perfectly. And then I show up and only get two weeks to learn how to navigate the track. Then we compete against each other. Obviously you will be more skilled and more prepared than me, and chances are you will win, not me.

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The problem for the actor re-creating a stage role is that the film performance may not be fresh. An example that comes to mind is Deborah Kerr in Tea and Sympathy. Kerr is always good, but this feels to me like a last-month-of-the-run performance, perfectly competent but often on auto-pilot, not much discovery for actor or audience.

I have no problem with Joel Grey winning the Oscar for Cabaret. Great performance. But it's true Pacino should not have lost the Oscar to Joel Grey--he should have lost to Stacy Keach in the Best Actor category.

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There were plenty of excellent movies and performances that year. Among supporting actresses, Jeannie Berlin, Eileen Heckart, Ida Lupino, and Susan Tyrell are my top picks. Nell (Potts) Newman and Roberta Wallace were also very good in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds.

Eileen Heckart's performance in The Bad Seed feels very stagey and over-rehearsed, in my opinion. Her pain is palpable, and she has some good moments in the movie, but there were times when I think she was more focused on hitting her marks. Still, she is the best thing in the movie.

I think she gave a much better performance in Butterflies Are Free.

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14 hours ago, Arsan404 said:

There were plenty of excellent movies and performances that year. Among supporting actresses, Jeannie Berlin, Eileen Heckart, Ida Lupino, and Susan Tyrell are my top picks. Nell (Potts) Newman and Roberta Wallace were also very good in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds.

This film doesn't air on TCM very often, but it's worth (re)discovering.

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In order to avoid starting a new thread, I would list these women as among the best actresses that never received an Oscar (in no particular order):

Susan Tyrrell
Eleanor Parker
Ida Lupino
Doris Day
Irene Dunne
Kate Reid
Kim Stanley
Diahann Carroll

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Saw "Fat City" a few years ago at UCLA Film with Stacey Keach as guest.  Susan Tyrell is terrific in this film Her portrayal of an alcoholic and neurotic woman was definitely Oscar-worthy.  

Keach's has-been boxer reminds me of his role in "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter". 

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10 minutes ago, johnpressman said:

Saw "Fat City" a few years ago at UCLA Film with Stacey Keach as guest.  Susan Tyrell is terrific in this film Her portrayal of an alcoholic and neurotic woman was definitely Oscar-worthy.  

Keach's has-been boxer reminds me of his role in "The Heart IS A Lonely Hunter". 

Lucky you! Did Keach speak about Tyrrell? They made another film together a bit later, THE KILLER INSIDE ME (1976).

Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 10.09.38 AM

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17 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Lucky you! Did Keach speak about Tyrrell? They made another film together a bit later, THE KILLER INSIDE ME (1976).

Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 10.09.38 AM

I don't remember his comments on Susan Tyrell, but he did say that when the boxer Sixto Rodriguez playing Lucero in "Fat City" knocks him down in the fight, it was real!

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57 minutes ago, johnpressman said:

I don't remember his comments on Susan Tyrell, but he did say that when the boxer Sixto Rodriguez playing Lucero in "Fat City" knocks him down in the fight, it was real!

Yeah, that's a great scene. The whole movie is full of great scenes.

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7 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Yeah, that's a great scene. The whole movie is full of great scenes.

I especially love the last scene with Keach and Jeff Bridges.

image.png.2d7a18521fe1d18b5a4a294528874d1c.png

 

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2 hours ago, johnpressman said:

I especially love the last scene with Keach and Jeff Bridges.

image.png.2d7a18521fe1d18b5a4a294528874d1c.png

 

It's a cryptic sort of scene where nothing major is resolved. But it feels like something that's a slice of life. Real life.

Reel life for these characters.

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I wasn't that absorbed by this film, but the final scene is compelling. What an amazing career John Huston had, from The Maltese Falcon in 1941 to The Dead in 1987, I think? And easily a dozen great films in between.

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22 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

I wasn't that absorbed by this film, but the final scene is compelling. What an amazing career John Huston had, from The Maltese Falcon in 1941 to The Dead in 1987, I think? And easily a dozen great films in between.

Huston probably made more good films after the end of the studio era (say 1966) than any other director of his generation. He made the difficult adjustment and and was able to give us films like Fat City, The Man Who Would Be King, Wise Blood, and Prizzi's Honor, all very different from each other and from his earlier masterpieces. Many people are also fond of The Dead.

The first shot of Fat City is overwhelming, as the camera slowly pans along the street of the small town while the soundtrack has Kris Kristofferson singing "Sunday Morning Coming Down."

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12 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

I wasn't that absorbed by this film, but the final scene is compelling. What an amazing career John Huston had, from The Maltese Falcon in 1941 to The Dead in 1987, I think? And easily a dozen great films in between.

I would turn this statement around and say that films like THE MALTESE FALCON should be compared to FAT CITY. Huston only got better as he went along and in many ways FAT CITY is a far superior work than his earlier stuff.

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Kris Kristoffersen sings "Help Me Make It Through The Night" over the opening scene.  The other great song in this movie is "The Look Of Love" sung by Dusty Springfield.

 

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