Best Actress Bracket Game: Faye Dunaway Vs. Diane Keaton
The 70’s provided a wealth of memorable Best Actress winners to choose from. The game includes the likes of Jane Fonda and Sally Field who also won in other decades. But I also wanted to include two actresses who won for movies that really represent the decade. In the mid-70’s, Faye Dunaway’s career peaked with her Oscar win for the social satire, Network. The following year, Diane Keaton helped shape fashion trends and romantic comedy tropes in Annie Hall. Both actresses can claim multiple nominations, but only a single victory.
Before we get into the details of today’s match, let’s review the results of what jestak called the battle “for who will lose to Hepburn in the next round.”
Does Julie Andrews’ victory (with 60% of the votes) over Jane Fonda constitute an upset? I think in a lot of circles it would. I can’t say I find the results overly surprising given the number of Disney fans Le Blog attracts. A couple of readers expressed a distaste for Fonda in the comments section some of which was politically motivated. It’s debatable the extent to which the actress’ activism hindered her career, but there’s no doubt it set her back in our bracket game. Whatever the cause, Mary Poppins moves on to face four-time winner Katherine Hepburn in round two.
Faye Dunaway’s film career took off pretty quickly at first. In 1967, she starred in The Happening and Bonnie and Clyde the latter of which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. She lost to Katherine Hepburn who earned her second award for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. The following year, Dunaway had another hit in The Thomas Crown Affair. But then things cooled off for a few years.
Dunaway began to turn things around in 1973 with the light comic adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. She followed that up with her second Oscar nomination for Roman Polanski’s gritty film noir, Chinatown along with commercial successes in The Towering Inferno and The Four Musketeers. Dunaway’s win streak continued in 1975 with Three Days of the Condor and then in 1976 she topped off her comeback with an Oscar for Network.
Network is a dark comedy full of social commentary that has only grown in relevance. Dunaway plays an ambitious head of programming who will do whatever it takes to improve her ratings. Her character is beautiful and alluring, but she also represents everything that is wrong with the world. After an affair with the president of network news played by William Holden, he tells her that she is “television incarnate, indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy.”
As regular readers at Le Blog know, things took a turn for the worse in 1981 when Dunaway starred in the camp classic, Mommie Dearest. But you can read all about that in the Golden Raspberry articles.
In 1972, Diane Keaton made her first movie with Woody Allen, an adaptation of his stage play Play It Again Sam. Allen and Keaton reprised their roles from the Broadway production. That same year, Keaton was also part of the cast of The Godfather. For the next few years, Keaton continued appearing in Woody Allen movies like Sleeper and Love and Death and the sequel to The Godfather.
In 1977, Keaton won her only Best Actress Oscar and her first of four nominations for playing a character she inspired in Annie Hall. Keaton was born Diane Hall and “Annie” is only a slight jump away from “Diane”. Keaton says she doesn’t mind being associated with the character. I’m not haunted by Annie Hall. I’m happy to be Annie Hall. If somebody wants to see me that way, it’s fine by me.”
Annie Hall was a pivotal movie in the filmography of Woody Allen. Up until that point, Allen’s focus has been on the jokes. With Annie Hall, he had something to say. From that point on, the director would mix drama and comedy to varying degrees. The movie also shaped romantic comedies going forward. When Harry Met Sally… is Annie Hall without Woody Allen.
But perhaps the movie’s biggest influence was on the fashion trends of the decade. Keaton wore men’s clothes in the movie creating a unique and eccentric look for her character. Keaton collaborated with costume designer Ruth Morley on the look. Ralph Lauren has also claimed credit having designed a jacket and tie which were used in the movie.
Post Annie Hall, Keaton continued making movies with Woody Allen for a few more years. She also returned to The Godfather for a third entry in the series. Her efforts resulted in three more Best Actress nominations spaced out across several decades. Her subsequent nominations were for Reds (1981), Marvin’s Room (1996) and Somethings Gotta Give (2003).