(one installment in a quick series counting down from 50 to 26!)
CARRIE SNODGRESS IN DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE (1970)
The competition (me – 5 for 5!):
Glenda Jackson in Women in Love
Jane Alexander in The Great White Hope
Ali MacGraw in Love Story
Sarah Miles in Ryan’s Daughter (thanks, Yogesh Raut, for observing that I accidentally typed “Sylvia Miles”, 2-time Best Supporting Actress nominee!)
1970 was the first and only year since the 2nd Academy Awards to feature all irst-time nominees, and I’ll be honest: I wish it were a stronger slate. Still, Carrie’s is probably the one performance out of the rather wan group of five that I would feel comfortable nominating in just about any year. The film must have been a satire when it came out, and with the progress made in the treatment of women over the next forty years, it plays today more like a black, black comedy. Carrie’s titular mad housewife is insane only in that she doesn’t lash out in a fury against the feminist Inferno that is perpetually wrought upon her by a beastly snide husband, conniving children, and coldly condescending lover; instead, she wanders through these days of unending abuse in a self-denying state of grace. Carrie’s challenge is an exercise in balance; while I ultimately feel like she suffers from a character kept underdeveloped for the sake of comedy, I do think she nails the note she’s meant to hit, even if it’s only one. Despite Glenda Jackson and Ken Russell’s partisans for Women in Love, I have to hand the 1970 Oscar to Carrie! You go, girl!