So here we are, at the beginning of the end. With the remarkable performance from Fay Bainter in White Banners now seen and filed away, these ten actresses remain:
- Ann Harding in Holiday (1931)
- Diana Wynyard in Cavalcade (1933)
- Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Arc (1948)
- Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen (1951)
- Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
- Liv Ullmann in The Emigrants (1972)
- Joanne Woodward in Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (1973)
- Gena Rowlands in Gloria (1980)
- Marsha Mason in Only When I Laugh (1981)
- Julie Christie in Afterglow (1997)
It’s a smaller group than the Home Stretch class of twenty-five, but just as eclectic, which is how I want it. There are actresses nominated in each of seven decades, ranging in age from 27 to 56, and from a one-time nominee to the twelve-nomination, four-win, all-time queen of the category. I can’t wait to be finished with this truly epic and truly trivial accomplishment, but I have to say that I will miss the sense of discovery, of finding out what’s in store in the next chapter. From now on, whenever I happen across a brilliant leading lady from the past, it will be tinged with the lament that it wasn’t included in the grand narrative of the Academy Awards.
As I’ve said before, the nomination—though it means more than the win—hardly means everything. Indeed, I’m currently at work on a post about the 85 snubbed actresses, one for each year, that would instead be nominees in my perfect world. Still, I’ve always appreciated the Academy Awards as a big, never-finished project in film history, with just this single category touching on women from Mary Pickford to Quvenzhane Wallis, and films from Gone with the Wind to Breaking the Waves. It will be sad to ring down the curtain on new discoveries in this category, though I’m already looking forward to revisiting some of the gems I’ve unearthed (that’ll be another post coming up in the wake of this mad rush).
Anyhow, a look at where this quest has gotten me to date, and what little remains: