Award Repo: Judy Holliday

A short while ago, I was watching All About Eve for the bazillionth time, and marveling at the fact that I never get tired of it. There are very few films that I view as just about technically perfect, even among my favorite movies. But if anything even comes close to being flawless, it's that one. I can confidently say it far and away deserved its Best Picture prize in 1950, because it would deserve that prize in any year.

So I've always scratched my head over how Bette Davis didn't win Best Actress that year. She's fucking incredible in that movie, and I wondered what performance could possibly have bested it. Well, let's take a look at what the choices were:

Anne Baxter (All About Eve)
Bette Davis (All About Eve)
Judy Holliday (Born Yesterday)
Eleanor Parker (Caged)
Gloria Swanson (Sunset Boulevard)

I'd never seen Born Yesterday (and still haven't seen Caged), but feel like even with that lacuna in my film knowledge, I had the right to be befuddled. Even if All About Eve had never been made, Gloria Swanson tore the screen to shreds in Sunset Boulevard. What the hell did this Holliday accomplish that beat out her AND Baxter AND Davis? I had to find out, so I rented Born Yesterday from Netflix.

Yawn. I'm sure it was perfectly charming in 1950, but unlike other movies on the list, it didn't retain its entertainment value in the passing years. Judy Holliday's performance was cute and funny, and I see why Academy voters were enchanted with her. And perhaps there was a vote-splitting situation, since Baxter and Davis and Swanson were all such fierce contenders. It doesn't really matter, though, because to my eye, it's painfully clear that of the nominated performances, Holliday should be towards the bottom of the list.

I know that Bette Davis doesn't need more adulation. She won two Oscars, and is remembered as one of the greatest actresses of all time. But the Award Repo is all about righting past wrongs, and in my opinion, there's simply no question that this should have been Davis' hat trick.


Kevin said...

You should see Caged. Not that Eleanor Parker's performance is better than Bette Davis's. But she's an underrated actress in an underrated movie. She's also amazing in Detective Story. I've become a fan of hers because I don't think people know her from anything besides The Sound of Music, and she is so much better than that.

Kevin said...

Also, I tried to leave that comment about 8 times before I succeeded. I am old and technology frightens me.

Limecrete said...

I think Caged may be a bit difficult to get my hands on. If I remember correctly, it wasn't available through Netflix, even by disc.

Kevin said...

It's apparently out of print, with limited quantities available at amazon. See what I mean by "underappreciated?"

Post a Comment

Copyright © Slice of Lime