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Oscars fate: The lone Yankee doesn't always win

September 29, 2007 |  8:43 pm

Tomei1_2

Some Oscar smackdowns will never end! Example: Did "Shakespeare in Love" or "Saving Private Ryan" deserve to win best pic of 1998? Go 'head and pitch your tomatoes at me — I say Oscar voters got it right with "Shakespeare"! Take that! Ha!

I don't feel so strongly about voters picking Marisa Tomei ("My Counsin Vinny") as best supporting actress of 1992, old news that's triggering another fight in our forums today.

Tomei's victory was a surprise for two reasons: it honored an outrageously comedic role and an outrageously crass and foul-mouthed role.

Some Oscarologists credit her win to outrageous patriotism. Tomei was the only Yankee in the category that also included Miranda Richardson ("Damage"), Joan Plowright ("Enchanted April"), Vanessa Redgrave ("Howards End") and Judy Davis ("Husbands and Wives").

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There are other examples of sole Yanks prevailing against foreign invaders — like Helen Hunt ("As Good As It Gets") slaying a boatload of Brits to reign as best actress of 1997 over Helena Bonham Carter ("The Wings of the Dove"), Julie Christie ("Afterglow"), Judi Dench ("Mrs. Brown") and Kate Winslet ("Titanic").

But as SeanFlynn points out in our forums, that pattern doesn't always win out, as Meryl Streep ("The Devil Wears Prada") discovered last year when she got beat by a Brit, Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II in "The Queen." Diane Keaton ("Something's Gotta Give") lost best actress of 2003 to South African Theron ("Monster") and Kathy Bates ("Primary Colors") lost the crown as best supporting actress of 1998 by Britain's Judi Dench as Elizabeth I in "Shakespeare in Love." Hmmmm. Are you spotting the same trend here that I am? Why do actresses playing queens named Elizabeth end up reigning?

(Photo: AMPAS / ABC)

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Comments

I have a lot of personal affection for Tomei's win, as that was the first year I made my own Oscar predictions. I was ten years old, I picked her, and she won! Have loved her ever since.
I've never understood why people were so surprised by her win... apart from the fact that she's terrific in it, the Academy quite oftens goes for broad comic performances in the supporting races (Kevin Kline, Mira Sorvino, Geena Davis, and, uh, Jack Palance, to name a few). Judy Davis probably gave the most nuanced, interesting perf of the five, but the Academy were never going to honour a Woody Allen movie in THAT year with all his bad publicity, and the other three were distinctly lackluster. Does anyone even REMEMBER Damage or Enchanted April? Tomei was the obvious winner.
I also maintain that Helen Hunt was a fair winner - if they weren't going to go for Helena Bonham-Carter (and they never were), Hunt was the next best choice. Judi Dench wasn't stretching herself in Mrs Brown and didn't deserve it for that role, nor for Shakespeare in Love. (Notes on a Scandal, on the other hand...)

I don't think anyone is debating Halle Berry's win for "Monster's Ball," are they? If I remember right, it was between her and Sissy Spacek for "In the Bedroom" with everyone else in the category being pretty much shut out (Kidman was up for a musical, Zellwegger was up for a comedy, and Dench for "Iris" being a boring movie no one saw - that may not be true but it was the consensus). People liked Spacek but she won before. I think people thought it was fair for Berry to win.

As for Helen Hunt, I think she was the best out of those she was nominated against. Winslet is a fantastic actress, but for "Titanic," I don't think so. No one else is even memorable. Did Hunt's American-ness help? Sure. But so did the fact that the movie was popular for it's acting (unlike Titanic which didn't even get Leo a nod).

i think the lone yank always wins UNLESS they have already won an oscar. then it's every man or woman for him/herself. Gwenyth should NEVER have won an Oscar over Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth and Judi Dench was robbed! Helen Hunt? and Jack Nicholson shouldn't have won that year either--he was playing himself. As for Marisa Tomei--hands down the best performance in that field. Now had they nominated Miranda Richardson for The Crying Game......well let's just say I think Miranda would have won since the film was also nominated for best pic and director and both actors were nominated as well and she did three back to back stellar supporting performances that year. I'm still smarting over Nicole Kidman's win over Renee Zellweger for best actress. But i think i'm the only one and that's ok. we can't all have our faves win every year. and i won't even go into all the overlooked performances in brokeback mountain or crouching tiger hidden dragon! LOL

The thing about Marisa's role is that it was meaty and it stood out in a movie that was generally a delight to watch. I have no problem with her winning the Oscar, other than the fact that it screwed up my Oscar predictions that year.

Not to sound like Chris Crocker, but LEAVE MARISA ALONE!!!

I thought Marissa's performance was delicious. It was the last of the nominated roles for that year that I saw, on the Sunday before the Oscars. I was completely uplifted with such an over the top performance, then I thought she might have a change. All along I thought it was Plowright's year. Larry's widow and all, but LOVE IT when Tomei won.

I thought "My Cousin Vinny" was a horrible movie, maybe one of the worst to ever win a major OSCAR, but still - there was something about Marisa Tomei's performance that really impressed me then...and does to this day. It was as if she was saying, "Screw it, I know this movie sucks but I'm gonna play this part for everything I got! Yeah, that's what all do! I'll act like it's a great part in a crappy movie!"

And by gosh - she pulled it off. I think she was also helped by strong lack of sentiment for the presumed front-runner Judy Davis; and generally lackluster competition that year.

the single most notorious example of a oscar smackdown that won't end to me is the example of Halle Berry winning over the likes of Sissy Spacek, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellwegger... so many people feel that win wasn't deserving and many people still believe that Spacek should have won... although i personally believe that Halle won that fair and square

The Yankee vote or did Tomei really deserve an Oscar? She created a character that was completely different from her normal personality. She took her lines and did some extremely creative things with them. Finally, I can't imagine too many actresses doing this same role and doing a better job. We can all name a ton of actors who have taken home oscars for the most lackluster performances why must all this attention be put on poor Marisa?

yea.....except for that one time Cate Blanchett lost to Paltrow.......


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