Judy Davis turns 58 today! I find it kind of ironic that she winds up having a birthday today, and I’m finishing up my 1992 Fisti Awards and she happens to be in contention for a win in the Supporting Actress category. I’ve been mulling over that particular category because nailing down my winner is very, very difficult. I have three actresses out in front and any one of them would be a worthy winner, but there can only be one (I’m very picky about the idea of a tie).
Instead of doing a Birthday Top Ten (an idea I’m flirting with for a recurring post here) I’ve decided that Davis’s birthday would be the perfect time to hash out the 1992 debate over her Oscar loss. It’s funny because this is one of those Oscar races that is rehashed over and over again (maybe even more fervently than the 1998 Lead Actress race) and there has even been controversy surrounding the Oscar win. In fact, there have been many claims that Tomei did NOT win the Oscar and that Jack Palance was too drunk to read the correct name in the envelope. The Academy has refuted this, stating that they would have rectified the mistake immediately (and I believe that), but the controversial win is still shrouded with that air of doubt and mystery. In fact, even Hitler got in on the conversation!
Well, Marisa Tomei doesn’t have too much to complain about. She’s a two time Fisti winner (and I always get the right name) and she’s very much in the conversation for the 1992 Fisti as well. Yes, Judy Davis may have been the favorite going into Oscar night (she may have lost the Globe to Joan Plowright, but she slaughtered with the critics) but it’s not like Tomei was a step-down. In fact, Tomei’s performance was astonishingly well rounded. She was a spitfire, hard hitting with her dynamic energy and comedic timing, but she had a reserved tenderness that aided the development of her character. It certainly didn’t hurt that she was the only American in the lineup, I’m sure, and that she was (and still is) gorgeous, but one should not discredit Tomei for the tremendous acting talent she showed here. So many think that dramatic performances take more talent to convey, but any actor will tell you that comedy is HARD!
But alas, this is supposed to be about Judy Davis, who was perfection in ‘Husbands and Wives’. The difference between the two performances is huge, since they follow a different path, but they are both marvelously layered. Davis is all sorts of seething perfection. The way she manipulates her characters anger is phenomenal. That explosion of telephone accusations is stunning, and the way she nonchalantly scrutinizes everything and everyone around her is so spot-on you swear she’s not acting at all.
Redgrave was very good, but Bonham Carter was better. Richardson was also very good, but she should have been up for her performance in ‘The Crying Game’ instead, which was far more engaging. Like Hitler, I’m indifferent to Plowright.