Some Oscar Winning Actresses in Retro Comic Screen Romances…
Recalling pre-2000 romantic comedies with some wonderful comic performances from just a few lovely Oscar Winning Best Actresses.
Last year I looked at some Oscar-winning actors roles in Superhero movies, so this year I thought I’d do the same. However this topic only led to a few of appearances as a superheroine and her nemesis, in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) movie. And Brie Larson in an upcoming Marvel movie. I could have included the small but essential, superhero’s girlfriend role which I’ve loved with the likes of Natalie Portman as Jane in Thor (2011) or loathed with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts with Iron Man (2008). But these roles are usually frustratingly almost like an after thought in these films, although to their scenes with their superhero menfolk, often more enjoyable.
So after some thought, I’m exploring just some of the comedy roles where Oscar Winning roles for actresses, have an equal if not greater role in the movie and a romance within the movie. Here looking at 5 retro comedy appearances from before 2000.
Emma Thompson in The Tall Guy (1989)
In the 1990s Emma Thompson was nominated for 3 Best Actress Oscars. She only won once in 1992, for her performance in Howards End (1992) in her role as Margaret Schlegel in the film adaptation of E. M. Forster book. However just three years previously she starred in a wee British romantic comedy, The Tall Guy with Jeff Goldblum as her love interest, Dexter King. He’s an American actor who falls for Thompson’s role as Kate, a nurse.
The pair meet after he is treated for hayfever, and fall in love after their first date where they decide to make love first, to get it out of the way. And start dating, after this rather energetic scene, which is definitely not for kids. After being fired, Dexter wins the leading role in a Andrew LLoyd Webber inspired musical based on The Elephant Man. But then Dexter sleeps with his leading lady, and this is found out by the hyper-observant Kate.
It was Richard Curtis’ comedy writing debut and has a who’s who of 80s British comedy behind the camera with director Mel Smith and in front of it with a supporting role from Rowan Atkinson. It’s quite a sweet romantic comedy and yes, one of those first movies I sobbed at the cinema. And an essential for Jeff Goldblum fans everywhere (you know who you are).
Glenda Jackson in A Touch of Class (1973)
Now back to the 1970s for an Oscar Winning performance by Glenda Jackson (yes, the same one who is a name in British politics) in A Touch of Class (1973). With Glenda also winning an Oscar for Women in Love (1969). However she was nominated for a further 2 Best Actress Academy Awards. This one of my favourite of her roles. Although her movie with Vanessa Redgrave, Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) was also a favourite – with Jackson as Elizabeth I – even if did give me nightmares as a kid. This for Michael York’s final appearance as Lord Darnley whose life ends in tragedy. And surprisingly not for the scene where the Scottish Queen gets executed. Not really spoilers if its history!
Anyway, back to this role which is in another British romantic comedy A Touch of Class and here Glenda Jackson stars as British, Vickie with George Segal as her secret American lover Steve. I remember this as being one of two films they starred as lovers. But this one bizarrely could have brought Cary Grant out of film retirement. This with the film script to be rewritten to accommodate his older man role.
Basically she’s divorced, he’s married and after he makes his move on her she says she’ll only do the deed somewhere warmer. Then his wife turns up and cue complications after he says she’s his mother… hence the need for that rewrite. One to watch again, probably with my mother. And no doubt in a double bill, with a similar cast including those leads in Lost and Found (1979) which is neither a prequel or a sequel.
Meryl Streep in Heartburn (1986)
Twenty one times nominated – according to Wikipedia – yet only winning two Best Actress awards for Sophie’s Choice (1982) and The Iron Lady (2011) – means that Meryl easily leads the list of most nominated actress for this accolade. Her leading man in Heartburn (1986) is with another much nominated actor, Jack Nicholson in this bittersweet comedy drama movie.
It tells – in a much watered down version of the book – of Nora Ephron’s relationship and marriage with one of the reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal, Carl Bernstein. Who was played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie on this, All The President’s Men (1976). If like me you relate to some history events via the movies. And would have been just weird if Hoffman had been cast in this movie, even if the names have been changed. Especially with their appearances as a divorcing couple in Kramer vs Kramer (1979).
Anyway it’s a great movie, although Nicholson makes his character more charming than despicable as the cheating husband. And his scenes with Meryl are quite sweet in the more loving moments for this famous couple, after they get together at the start of this film. With Itsy Bitsy Spider (Coming Round Again) as the hauntingly memorable title track from Carly Simon, it’s a great movie. With surprisingly no awards for this prolific starring cast, also including Oscar winners Mercedes Ruehl, director Milos Foreman and Kevin Spacey (in his debut).
Sissy Spacek in The Man with Two Brains (1983)
Sissy Spacek won a role for Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter in 1980 but was also nominated many times. Six times to be exact, with her win leading to similar biopic role for Jessica Lange in a Best Actress nominated role in Sweet Dreams (1985) . Lange starred as Loretta Lynne’s fellow Country and Western singing star, Patsy Cline. For which Lange also gave a wonderfully, stirring performance.
However in the comedy, The Man with Two Brains, Spacek is seen but not heard as Steve Martin’s love interest as the voice of a brain. Yup, you did read that right. Martin as Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr was a loved up brain surgeon, then widowed by the love of his life. After meeting and falling for a bitch of a gold digger in Kathleen Turner as Dolores Benedict. However Spacek as Anne Uumellmahaye, she makes an appearance as one of the many brains, Dr. Alfred Necessiter (David Warner) is experimenting on. After he meets Hfuhruhurr at a medical conference he invites to his lab. There after singing a song reminding him of his dead wife, he falls in love with Specek after she joins him in a duet. Leading to a crazy serial killer storyline and a hunt for a suitable body so Hfuhruhurr can have the
brain girl of his dreams…
Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors (1998)
Oscar Winner Gwyneth Paltrow won her Oscar for her performance as Viola de Lesseps and Thomas Kent for Shakespeare in Love (1998). But here starring in another British Comedy romance, Sliding Doors. The plot with the premise of would your life turn out differently after a chance event occurs differently.
This film shows Paltrow as Helen whose life is seen in two parallel storylines in the first in what would happen had she caught a train. And the second if she’d missed it. It also has John Hannah. Playing a full tilt Scot with a crazy sense of humour who features in… anyway no spoilers. But his accent alone is great if you are a Scottish expat and homesick. And also useful in curing this now as I’ve totally given up on Outlander (2014-) after they killed off Frank and Black Jack Randall.
Surprisingly written by Peter Howitt, Joey from TV’s Bread (1986-91) and a unique idea for a romantic comedy. Which is like finding the needle in a haystack of far too many contrived rom coms. And produced by Sydney Pollack – after a chance discussion with John Hannah – who was himself a nominated Oscar director for Tootsie (1982). It’s got Oscar winners both behind and in front of the camera.
So in reviewing these movies, it was great to revisit these Oscar Winning actresses in some fun, romantic moments in retro films… However in a parallel universe these ladies might have lost out on the award, and those leading ladies in rom coms nominated for Best Actress might have won. This leading to my retro post featuring the likes of… Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys (1977), Marsha Mason in The Goodbye Girl (1977), Julie Walters for Educating Rita (1983), Kathleen Turner in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and Melanie Griffith in Working Girl (1988). Which could possibly be the choice of topic for next year’s Oscar related post, unless a chance event results in things turning out differently…
This post was added to Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled, Aurora of Once Upon a Screen and Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. Other movies with these lovely actresses as reviewed here include Meryl Streep in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Kramer vs Kramer and Mamma Mia. Emma Thompson stars in my Bridget Jones’ Baby trailer review.