Did They Get it Right? – Best Supporting Actress – Oscars 1981

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Melinda Dillon (Absence of Malice)
Jane Fonda (On Golden Pond)
Joan Hackett (Only When I Laugh)
Elizabeth McGovern (Ragtime)
Maureen Stapleton (Reds)

Biggest Snub:

Kristy MacNichol – Only When I Laugh

My Overall Thoughts:

This is a year where 3 of the 5 nominees were quite powerful in their roles while the other two were just good.

My Rankings:

Supporting Actress

5. Elizabeth McGovern
4. Melinda Dillon
3. Joan Hackett 
2. Maureen Stapleton
1. Jane Fonda


5. Only When I Laugh Interesting idea that probably works much better on a stage than on screen. Mason is fine in the lead but she is constantly overshadowed by Coco, McNichol and Hackett. The story is told pretty well but they don’t manage to endear us enough to the lead character to care so much about what she has gone through and where she is headed. The dialogue is great (as with all Simon scripted plays/films) but something still feels missing that would have made this an even better and more engaging story.
4. RedsGood epic biopic but it moves way too slowly. Its easy to see how much this was a labor of love for Beatty. Amazing cast helps a bit. I can understand how this film could garner 12 Oscar Nominations with 3 wins, but the story isn’t as engaging as one would hope. Really liked how they managed to intersperse real interviews with friends and compatriots of Reed and Bryant, but as epic as it may be, it feels too disjointed.
3. RagtimeGreat story that shows the way people were treated by other during the turn of the 20th century. Really enjoyed the way that they tell so many various stories and find a way to tie them all together in realistic and plausible ways. Great cast led by Cagney, McGovern, Steenburgen, Patinkin, Rollins and Dourif. Rollins and McGovern were both nominated for Oscars for their supporting performances yet neither won. The story manages to show that the way of life for people could easily be disrupted by various racial and marital tensions and works on numerous levels. The characters all feel quite realistic and I liked how it follows the story of a black musician trying to make his way and raise a family despite everything going on around him.
2. Absence of MaliceRaises great questions about journalistic ethics and what can and should be printed and what should be kept private. Loved the way the story played out and how it stayed interesting despite the numerous threads of different parts of the that weave in and out of our focus. Brimley steals the show with his scene and I wished that he would have been in it even more. Newman and Field are both excellent actors, but I just didn’t feel the chemistry between them enough in their shared scenes.
1. On Golden PondExcellent movie, amazing acting based on a well written play. Very deserving of all of its accolades.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yes and No!  Stapleton was quite powerful in Reds, but I still believe that Fonda was even better especially since she got to play such a great role opposite her father.

Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!

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