Best Actress 1959

1927/28 through 1997

Best Actress 1959

Doris Day - Pillow Talk
0
No votes
Audrey Hepburn - The Nun's Story
8
25%
Katharine Hepburn - Suddenly, Last Summer
4
13%
Simone Signoret - Room at the Top
18
56%
Elizabeth Taylor - Suddenly, Last Summer
2
6%
 
Total votes: 32

The Original BJ
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Re: Best Actress 1959

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Aug 23, 2017 2:05 pm

Doris Day is the kind of huge star who usually gets a career nomination somewhere, and I can admit that as a star she had her appealing qualities (probably employed most effectively in Calamity Jane, or by Hitchcock in The Man Who Knew Too Much). But Pillow Talk is really disposable stuff.

Suddenly, Last Summer goes in some bananas directions, but I think Hepburn and Taylor do solid work in it -- both actresses seem to understand that their characters are a little ridiculous, but neither plays their part as a joke. I could definitely see folks thinking they crossed the line of believability in some places -- especially Taylor, with her big eleventh-hour monologue -- but I'd say they both stay just this side of seriousness, while relishing the theatricality of Williams's language. This isn't a peak for either (certainly not Hepburn), but I don't object to the nominations.

Audrey Hepburn gives a very strong performance as a woman struggling to realize the role of faith in her life, and whether it's something she can commit to FOR her life. This is some of her best work, particularly because she plays against the type she'd established in earlier films like Roman Holiday and Sabrina -- the charming dreamgirl -- creating a character of great thoughtfulness and emotional heft. Not her most iconic role, but a clear high point in her career.

But I see no reason to revoke Simone Signoret's Oscar. This isn't the kind of performance that's memorable because it contains a lot of BIG acting -- the kinds of showy outbursts that make it into Oscar clips -- but because her presence throughout is so utterly beguiling, so mature, knowing, and sad, that you can see the weight of life's years hanging over her just in the way she carries herself. She was quite a unique screen presence, and though she may have been used even more effectively in her home country's cinema, this performance is a clearly worthy place for the stars to have aligned for her to receive this honor.

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Re: Best Actress 1959

Postby bizarre » Thu Oct 16, 2014 6:25 am

What a terrific year for lead actresses from around the world! But I've only seen Signoret from this bunch. No matter, she's easily one of the better winners this category has seen, sensuous, sad and lit by a flickering inner light, completely free from the self-conscious decontruction that stars often bring to these kinds of 'unglamourous' roles. Instead, she's just subtly self-effacing, stunningly ordinary and entirely convincing,

My picks:
1. Barbara Baxley, The Savage Eye
2. Anna Magnani, Hell in the City
3. Simone Signoret, Room at the Top
4. Eva Marie Saint. North by Northwest
5. Birgitte Federspiel, A Stranger Knocks

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Postby jowy_jillia » Sun Sep 13, 2009 5:07 am

My Choices:
Audrey Hepburn - The Nun's Story
Katharine Hepburn - Suddenly, Last Summer
Marilyn Monroe - Some Like It Hot
Emmanuelle Riva - Hiroshima mon Amour
Simone Signoret - Room at the Top

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Postby ITALIANO » Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:28 pm

Ok, well at least it came to the US.

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Postby dws1982 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:19 pm

ITALIANO wrote:Eleonora Rossi Drago SHOULD have been nominated for her great performance in Zurlini's Violent Summer, but was the film ever distributed in American cinemas? And did this happen in 1959?

IMDB and Wikipedia (both of which can be dubious sources) say it was released in 1961 in the States.




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Postby ITALIANO » Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:58 pm

I am back.









Eleonora Rossi Drago SHOULD have been nominated for her great performance in Zurlini's Violent Summer, but was the film ever distributed in American cinemas? And did this happen in 1959?

As for the actual nominees. There's a letter in which Anna Magnani urges a friend to "go and see immediately Suddenly Last Summer, for Hepburn's performance. It's great, something you have never seen before, like a swarm of butterflies, always changing direction and shape before you really realize that". It may be an over poetic metaphore, but I think that Hepburn's performance is truly original, and one just has to think of other actresses (including very good ones like Bette Davis) playing that role to realize how unique Hepburn is in it.

Taylor is effective in the same movie (Tennessee Williams considered her miscast, but while Liz may have lacked Catherine's vulnerability, she was so perfect in many other ways, and almost believable in the context of the story's admittedly surreal situations). It's not a great performance, but it works.

I don't even need to talk about Doris Day. As for Audrey Hepburn, I usually have a problem with actresses playing nuns, especially in American movies (unlike some on this board, who seem to be obssessed by them). But Hepburn's case is different, the role is unusually complex (Come to the Stable it isnt), and of course Hepburn had the intelligence and the sublety to carry it off. It is also the kind of movie which shows how great a traditional (and today kind of forgotten) director like Fred Zinneman could be.

But the Academy did the right thing when it chose Simone Signoret, one of the best actresses ever, for a performance which is simply unforgettable. Laurence Harvey may have more screen time, but the movie really belongs to Signoret, to her profound eyes, to her mature sexuality, to her French sense of melancholy and it wouldnt exist without her.

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Postby Reza » Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:25 am

Big Magilla wrote:
Reza wrote:The tv remake with Maggie Smith (an Emmy nod) and Natasha Richardson is too gentile.

I think you mean "genteel", not "gentile". :)

Yes....LOL.

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Postby Damien » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:45 am

I voyed for The Great Hepburn -- Audrey.

Liz is not far behind, though -- I think she does a fine job of keeping her character believable just as she's on the border of going over-the-top -- unlike her co-star who scarcely has a believable moment in the entire picture.

Simone Signoret's performance underwhelmed me, and I'm glad DoDo received at least one nomination in her career, but Pillow Talk is far from her most interesting work.
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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:50 pm

Eric wrote:Suddenly Last Summer is just way too fun too ignore. Taylor's most expressive moment is the shot of her high-heeled legs perched on a catwalk atop a snake pit. She gets my vote.

OK, but you apparently you either didn't vote or you accidentally voted for someone else. Taylor has no votes so far.
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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:48 pm

Reza wrote:The tv remake with Maggie Smith (an Emmy nod) and Natasha Richardson is too gentile.

I think you mean "genteel", not "gentile". :)
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

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Postby Reza » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:32 pm

Signoret easily gets my vote.

I agree both the leads in Suddenly, Last Summer are waaay too over the top but that's the only way to play this particular material. The tv remake with Maggie Smith (an Emmy nod) and Natasha Richardson is too gentile.

Haven't seen The Nun's Story in a long while and wasn't that impressed by Audrey.....yes, the film does go on and on......and maybe I need to review it.

I liked prim Doris in Pillow Talk.

However, I prefer Dorothy McGuire's performance in A Summer Place more than that of the four ladies nominated.....but second to Signoret's that year.




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Postby Eric » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:11 pm

Suddenly Last Summer is just way too fun too ignore. Taylor's most expressive moment is the shot of her high-heeled legs perched on a catwalk atop a snake pit. She gets my vote.

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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:40 pm

I've never seen Signoret give a bad performance and I do need to watch Room at the Top again, but I recall her role in it as somewhat limited. Laurence Harvey's character dominates the film. I've always thought she won the Oscar more out of sympathy than for her performance.

It isn't recalled very much anymore, but at the time a very big deal was made of the fact that her husband, Yves Montand, was carrying on a very public affair with Marilyn Monroe while they were filming the aptly titled Let's Make Love in Hollywood while Signoret stewed in Paris.

Audrey Hepburn's reluctant nun who loves caring for the sick more than she does the church, is easily the best performance she ever gave. Katharine Hepburn was so moved by her performance that she began referring to Audrey as "the real Miss Hepburn" and publicly stated she was voting for her in the Oscar race, which purportedly annoyed Elizabeth Taylor no end. Audrey and Liz were the early Oscar favorites.

Taylor has never been one of my favorites, but in Suddenly, Last Summer, just as she did in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and would do a few years later in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, she plays a major role with such clear force of personality that you can't help but like her - at least I can't. That she holds her own against Kate the Great makes her performance all the more impressive. Both actresses deserved nominations for over-the-top performances that should never be played any other way.

Doris Day is another story. Oscar Levant was right when he cut her new-found popularity down to size with the quip, "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin". This was clearly a make-up nod for having overlooked her in Calmity Jane, Love Me or Leave Me and The Pajama Game.

My fifth nominee would have been Hayley Mills, the 13 year-old star who not only captivates all who see her in Tiger Bay, but so moved Walt Disney that he promptly put her in two of his biggest films ever, Pollyanna and The Parent Trap, making her one of the most successful child actors of all time.

In the end, though, no one comes close to Audrey this year. She easily gets my vote.
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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:25 pm

No amount of pleading is going to get me to see Pillow Talk as anything but a smarm-fest -- illustrative of the era, maybe, but not in any way good.

Suddenly Last Summer gives us the all-time easiest Elizabeth Taylor impression ("They...were...EAT-ing...him"). Not her worst performance in this run (see: 1960), but not a contender, either.

Hepburn with this performance started her not-thereafter-infrequent descents into self-parody over the next decade or two. She's not all the way there -- the performance has moments -- but there's an overall silliness that makes it impossible for me to take seriously.

It's been a long while since I saw The Nun's Story; like dws, I've not been able to summon up the effort to watch it again (too damn long, for openers). My recollection is it's Audrey's finest dramatic hour, but not on a par with her comic work in such as Two for the Road.

But Signoret's my easy pick. I'd seen the film back when I was in high school, but had little memory of it when I watched it again around the early 90s. Signoret just blew me away -- an emotionally naked performance that's one of the best of the era, let alone this year.

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Postby dws1982 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:08 pm

Signoret. Maybe not her all-time greatest performance, but I think it's a great performance, definitely a worthy winner, and easily my pick out of this lineup.

Katharine Hepburn's Mrs. Venable is, I think, an example of how, especially from the mid-50's on, she tended to turn her characters into absolute raving lunatics. This isn't the only time she did it--I'd also cite her Agnes in A Delicate Balance, Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, and even her Mary Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night; I think it's the wrong way to play these characters, and the lazy way of playing them. (I wonder if it's a coincidence that these characters all originated in plays by very distinctive authors, rather than coming from a screenplay written by some Hollywood hack.) Violet Venable comes off as too much of a nut to even have a clue about her son's homosexuality, much less try to use her powers to keep it hidden by lobotomizing the Elizabeth Taylor character. (Taylor is way over-the-top by the way.)

The other Hepburn's film I haven't seen in years and years, despite promising someone (Italiano?) a long time ago that I'd give it another shot. Don't really remember anything about it, although I claimed not to like it at one point. I do have it on my Netflix queue. Have never seen Pillow Talk.

My pick for 1959: Eleanora Rossi Drago in Violent Summer.




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