Herein lies my rankings of the five Best Actress performances of the very first Academy Awards, previously reviewed and ranked on my former blog. (I decided to repost the ranks instead of re-reviewing the year due to copious amounts of laziness flowing through my veins.) Voila!
Gaynor comes in last in the first of her three offerings. She does very little and yet you can’t blame her for she is given very little to do to begin with. I’m assuming these are one of those nominations you get when you’re a star of an acclaimed film…a la Brad Pitt of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Unfortunately, The Wife is just an unforgettable character. P.S. George O’Brien should have gotten a Best Actor nomination. Double P.S. Margaret O’Brien should have gotten a movie based around her character.
Once again, Dresser does what she can with the minimal amount she’s given. One of those mystery nominations, as Inside Oscar suggests A Ship Comes In never really made much of a splash with audiences, and I’m sure there must have been a meatier performance that calendar year. Still, her big scene in the courtroom is enough to push her ahead of Gaynor 1. (Gaynor 1 doesn’t even get a big Oscar clip moment.)
Gaynor 2 is solid work, though I had trouble believing her as a prostitute and I was irked by her bouncing around, frowning like a spoiled little girl. The movie is a hot mess and the performance would probably benefitted from better editing, better transitions, and a more solid story.
Gaynor 3 is by far the best of her three performances. The character itself was perfectly tailored to her cinematic aura–troubled, but vulnerable, damaged by the hardships of life (not troubled, and a whore/bitch like in Street Angel). She is a more thorough continuation of her character in Sunrise if The Wife had been better written.
Finally, my personal Best Actress winner of the first Academy Awards goes to Gloria Swanson in her fabulous turn in Sadie Thompson. Swanson is every bit fabulous in the role as you can expect (and I hate using that word). This is some fine star acting; the character is just perfectly larger-than-life enough to support the star power that radiates from Swanson as she controls the camera in her scenes. It’s a performance that stays with you–and it still stays with me even as I type–whether it’s those striking eyes, that searing beauty, or the confidence she imbues while strutting around the shot. When people talk Gloria Swanson and shoulda-been Oscars they think Sunset Blvd. I however, am firmly with the opinion that she should have gotten it the very first time around.
And so my first personal Best Actress Oscar goes to La Swanson. But wait, there’s more: continuing this little segment from my old blog, there are three types of people I enjoy in life and in film, and I enjoy them because they always make things more interesting. Swanson’s Sadie Thompson falls under one category: