Did They Get it Right? – Best Actress – Oscars 1938

Here are the five nominees: (Winner in Bold)

Fay Bainter (White Banners)
Bette Davis (Jezebel)
Wendy Hiller (Pygmalion)
Norma Shearer (Marie Antoinette)
Margaret Sullavan (Three Comrades)

Biggest Snub:

Jean Arthur – You Can’t Take it With You

My Overall Thoughts:

This is another year with 4 great performances and one head scratcher among the nominees but one is very powerful and poignant and was the clear front runner

My Rankings:


5. Margaret Sullavan
4. Norma Shearer
3. Wendy Hiller
2. Fay Bainter
1. Bette Davis


5. Three ComradesVery strange film that just doesn’t work very well at all. The characters aren’t developed well enough and it’s quite hard to care about any of them or what they do The fact that this film came out at the height of the beginning of Fascism also makes it even harder to sympathize with the characters due to everything going on around them. The cast is okay yet none of them really manage to stand out among the rest. Too much of the plot drags along and doesn’t manage to stay interesting at all.
4. White BannersVery intriguing premise that works quite well. Bainter is exceptional in the lead role and her nature becomes quite endearing to the family as she helps them with all that is needed. She was nominated for an Oscar for her work here and was quite deserving of that accolade. The story plays out really well and is filled with some nice surprises along the way that help enhance the characters and the story itself.  Raines stands out among the other characters and manages to toe the fine line between drama and comedy with the various inventions that he tries to make work throughout the film.
3. JezebelStory that doesn’t work as well as it might have. The performances are quite good, but the story moves along too slowly. Davis and Bainter both won Oscars for their roles and Fonda is quite good here too (as he usually was). One of the best things about this film is the characterization of Davis’ character as a Jezebel because it comes across really well.
2. Marie Antoinette Interesting take on the story of Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution. Shearer is great in the lead and was quite deserving of her Oscar nomination for Best Actress for this performance. They do a great job showing the way that her life evolved and we get to also see how much happened in her search for true love. This is truly an epic production even if it’s not perfect. The rest of the cast is quite good too and Morley definitely stands out as her husband who is quite shy around here even if he knows that she is the way for him to eventually have an heir for the throne.
1. PygmalionGreat adaptation of the Shaw play. The characters are fun to watch (despite expecting them to constantly break out in song.) Howard and Hiller have such great chemistry together which makes this work even better. Amazing dialogue.

Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Yep!  BD is superb in Jezebel and gave a much more powerful performance than the rest of the nominees this year.

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

Let me Know what you think!!

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