July 31, 2013

Betty Compson, The Barker


As I've mentioned before, three years ago, Nick Davis of Nick's Flick Picks posted this entry on his blog. I, stumbling across this through film blog osmosis, was about to witness the beginning of his glorious 41 post run of the remaining Best Actress performances he had yet to see out of the then 408 possible performances one could see. It was an amazing thing to tune into his blog every day for the next two months to see which Actress performance he'd cover next. I was enraptured, because while I'd long loved the Oscars, most especially the Best Actress category, I never realized that there were other people out there who shared the same particular interest as myself, and the idea of watching every single Best Actress nominated performance had never even crossed my mind. Thus, Nick's feat awoke an inspired and competitive monster from within me; "I'm an actressexual too! I want to join this elite club of one too!" So I started a blog (and then another...and then another...). And thus began my own blogging odyssey of watching every Best Actress nomination in chronological order. Thanks again Nick.

In the years that have passed, some of the most elusive films (The Constant Nymph, Holiday, etc.) have either been released on DVD or put up on YouTube by wonderful film buffs. That left The Barker, the film featured in the post that was the catalyst for this entire mess, as the most difficult film to get ahold of, with Betty Compson the most elusive Best Actress nominee. And after three years, the Oscar Gods finally granted me my wish. (The fact that I'm in Los Angeles for a summer internship plays a huge factor as well.) So here goes!

July 24, 2013

Marlene Dietrich, Morocco

 photo ScreenShot2013-07-18at112158PM.jpg I saved Marlene Dietrich's performance for last in this profiled year primarily for two reasons: because she's Marlene Dietrich, and because it's the only performance of hers to have been nominated for an Oscar. So I sort of put it off hoping it'd be some sort of quasi "event". Having said that, I can sum up Dietrich's performance in less than five words: at least she's pretty.

July 22, 2013

Marie Dressler, Min & Bill

as MIN
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Won: Academy Award - Best Actress
I can't even believe how much of an anomaly Marie Dressler was. This is a woman who was heavy-set, 61 years old, and completely non-traditional in terms of movie star looks--and yet she was the most popular Hollywood star during the early thirties. So while Dressler certainly stands out appearance wise in comparison to the likes of Norma Shearer, Mary Pickford, and Janet Gaynor, given her crazy popularity (they made Marie Dressler puppets for godssake) her win is unsurprising, sort of like Sandra Bullock's win in terms of a beloved movie star getting her due if you will.

July 19, 2013

Norma Shearer, A Free Soul

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Norma Shearer is an actress with whom I'm completely indifferent to. I'm neither excited by her nor do I dislike her enough to dread watching another one of her films--I'm just completely on the fence. So when it comes time to view another one of her performances, I'm neither expecting to be wowed or disappointed. After reviewing her Oscar winning turn and its sister nomination in the last profiled year, my perception of her performance work was that she is generally above-average with occasional moments of captivating dramatic excellence. After finishing A Free Soul, I have to give credit where it's due: Shearer's work is fantastic, and she's by far my MVP of the film.

July 18, 2013

Lionel Barrymore, A Free Soul

Won: Academy Award - Best Actor
On paper, it'd be no surprise that Lionel Barrymore won the Best Actor Oscar in his respective year. Playing an alcoholic lawyer who, after successfully defending a gangster, must defend the gangster's killer (who is also his daughter's boyfriend), this is a role that is ripe with Oscar potential, but at the same time this is a role that can be done poorly if put in the hands of the wrong actor (like, say...Richard Dix).

July 12, 2013

The Wait (will soon) be Over

As a birthday present to myself, I arranged for a date with a certain elusive actress...

Needless to say, I'm very, very excited.

July 11, 2013

Ann Harding, Holiday

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It can't be easy to have your film and Oscar-nominated performance overshadowed by a more iconic remake where your role is taken over by Katharine Hepburn. Today, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone (outside of the old-school film enthusiast or the Best Actress fanatic) who actually knows who Ann Harding is. Whether or not Harding is better than Hepburn I cannot say, as I've yet to see the remake, but no matter what, she will forever be the lady who played the role of the quirky Linda Seton on film first.