Here comes the Big Fight: Gloria Swanson and Sunset Blvd. VS. Bette Davis and All About Eve. In what is almost universally regarded as the wrong choice for Best Actress, Judy Holliday squeezed through the battle of the titans to win the Oscar for Born Yesterday.
Bette Davis had a major career comeback for All About Eve, in one of her juiciest, most famous roles:
But Gloria Swanson made an even bigger comeback, returning from two decades of obscurity in Billy Wilder’s masterpiece, Sunset Blvd.:
The Academy also recognized Anne Baxter in the title role of All About Eve:
Finally, Eleanor Parker put in a bravura performance in the prison picture, Caged:
Despite this VERY strong slate of candidates, the Academy still had other choices that might have made more sense.
First and foremost, Katharine Hepburn as the feminist lawyer in Adam’s Rib. Before you say it’s a 1949 movie, the Academy’s peculiar rules actually put Adam’s Rib into contention this year (as can be seen from the official nominations). Hepburn is brilliant in this partnership with Spencer Tracy, putting forward both strength and vulnerability in one of her best performances.
I also think Maureen O’Hara had one of her best roles in John Ford’s Rio Grande, playing the stiff-necked Southern wife of John Wayne, combining both strength and grace into a seamless turn.
Again, an amazing year for actresses!
If you would like to make other suggestions, please do so below in the comments!
As always, I have much more to say in my book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PKK8MBY
And now, please vote!