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Six Spot: Best Actress 1995 – Who Was the ‘Dead Girl’ Walking?

Welcome back to Six Spot! Who were the unlucky people who clocked in at number six, just missing the coveted Oscar nomination? We’re here to solve the mystery. Click the link if you want to read back issues of Six Spot.

This week, we are going to look at the Best Actress race of 1995, which featured five well-regarded performances that each took a different route to get in to the race.

The Nominees Were:

  • Susan Sarandon – Dead Man Walking
  • Elisabeth Shue – Leaving Las Vegas
  • Sharon Stone – Casino
  • Meryl Streep – The Bridges of Madison County
  • Emma Thompson – Sense and Sensibility

Contenders for the Six Spot:

  • Annette Bening – The American President (Golden Globes)
  • Sandra Bullock – While You Were Sleeping (Golden Globes)
  • Toni Collette – Muriel’s Wedding (Golden Globes)
  • Nicole Kidman – To Die For (Golden Globes, Critics Choice, BAFTA nominee, NYFCC runner up)
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh – Georgia (NYFCC, LAFCA runner up, Indie Spirits nominee)
  • Elina Lowensohn – Nadja (Indie Spirits)
  • Julianne Moore – [safe] (NYFCC runner up, Indie Spirits nominee)
  • Vanessa Redgrave – A Month by the Lake (Globes)
  • Lili Taylor – The Addiction (Indie Spirits)

The final five seemed almost predetermined as the season wore on. Susan Sarandon was the frontrunner in her husband’s passion project, but she was only out by a hair. Elisabeth Shue was the rising star and the critics darling for her searing performance as a hooker who falls for an alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas. Emma Thompson was the star of a big Best Picture frontrunner, for which she also wrote. Meryl Streep was Meryl Streep. Also, her performance as a bored, Italian-American housewife was heralded as among her best work. Sharon Stone was the wild card in the race. She yelled, she screamed, she threw stuff and she was in a Scorsese picture. Stone seemed to be the most vulnerable as she only had one precursor, but then she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama.

It was a strange year, but there were some other women waiting in the wings with heavy supporters.

14370849-standardLet’s first discount the Indie Spirit darlings who didn’t seem to have a strong enough push to factor into the race in a real enough way. Elina Lowensohn for Nadja and Lili Taylor for The Addiction were both destined to cherish their Indie Spirit nods, and nothing else. The Golden Globes also threw in a few left field names that weren’t really going to factor into the race. While every nominee on the drama side got in, comedy contenders such as Sandra Bullock for While You Were Sleeping and Vanessa Redgrave for A Month By the Lake weren’t going to be seen at the Kodak.

There were a couple Golden Globe comedy nominees that had a slightly better shot. Australian import Toni Collette got rave reviews for Muriel’s Wedding, but it was too small for it to go the distance. While the film has its fans and the quality is there, I don’t think Collette got the dreaded sixth slot. A more conventional candidate would be fellow Globe Comedy Actress nominee Annette Bening for The American President. However, the film and performance were too genial to match the ravings of someone like Sharon Stone for that last slot.

safeOne of the critic’s contender from this year has since gone on to finally win a deserved Oscar. However, in 1995, Julianne Moore was more of a no-name when she starred in [safe]. The film set those who saw it into a flurry. While it was a little seen indie, it had passion and Moore was racking up prizes. She was nominated at the Indie Spirit awards and was the runner up at the New York Film Critics Circle. The problem for Moore was that the critic’s were unifying around a different competitor. Elisabeth Shue sucked the air from Moore’s campaign as she was also a newcomer in a powerful and revealing indie. As Shue won more awards, such as the National Board of Review, Los Angeles Film Critics and Indie Spirits, critics realized she was the one they could help nudge in the race.

960This mentality also hurt fellow rising indie darling Jennifer Jason Leigh. Her performance in Georgia was divisive but had its harrowing supporters. This support led her to an Indie Spirit nomination, runner up at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and a win at the New York Film Critics Circle. The one thing that did keep Leigh in the conversation was her co-star, Mare Winningham, who was nominated for the film in Best Supporting Actress. Leigh was assured people were seeing the movie as they nominated her co-star. Moore didn’t have such a luxury, as she was the lone person with buzz from [safe]. Could that support have almost got her into the top five?

to-die-for-trailer-01The final potential nominee would be the Golden Globe winner for Best Actress in a Comedy. To many in 1995, Nicole Kidman was merely known as the wife of Tom Cruise. However, her villainous performance in Gus Van Sant’s dark comedy To Die For brought her critical accolades and box office success. Apart from winning the Globe, Kidman also won the Critics Choice Award for Best Actress and was nominated for a BAFTA. She even showed up as one of the runner ups at the New York Film Critics Circle. She had box office clout, major pre-cursor award support and rising movie star status. What kept her from the nomination? Most likely the film’s tone, which was a dark comedy. While it worked for Kathy Bates in Misery a few years earlier, that was an exception to the rule.

Despite some worthy opposition, I think it is fairly clear to see that…(CLICK NEXT)

What do you think?

AC Fan

Written by Christopher James

Christopher James has been an Oscar obsessive ever since watching his first ceremony at age 5 when "Titanic" won Best Picture. He is a recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University with degrees in Screenwriting for Film and Television and Marketing. Christopher currently works in media strategy and planning at Liquid Advertising, based out of Los Angeles, CA. You can find Christopher running on the sunny beach, brunching at trendy restaurants or mostly just sitting in a dark room watching movies and TV in sweatpants. Follow me on Twitter @cwj92movieman

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