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Best Actress Bracket Game: Meryl Streep Vs. Sissy Spacek

streep-vs-spacek

Within this bracket game, there are two competitors who have numbers on their side.  As the person with the most Best Actress wins in history, Katherine Hepburn has a pretty good claim on winning this whole thing.  But even Hepburn is outdone when it comes to nominations.  Meryl Streep for Best Actress a staggering sixteen times!

Coming up with someone to face off against Streep in the first round was a bit of a challenge.  The 1980’s were in need of some additional representation.  When I looked at other actresses who gave Streep a run for her money during that decade, Sissy Spacek stood out.  Spacek has an impressive six nominations four of which were during the Reagan era.

But first, let’s take a look at the results of yesterday’s 70’s match.

best-actress

The last couple of contests were pretty one-sided.  But yesterday’s match-up was another squeeker.  For most of the day, it was too close to call as Diane Keaton and Faye Dunaway swapped spots.  Eventually, Keaton pulled ahead and took the win.  That means Annie Hall will either face the Goliath of Meryl Streep or the David who slayed her.

Sissy Spacek received her first Oscar nomination for the title role in Brian DePalma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel, Carrie.  It’s pretty unusual to see a horror movie nominated by the Academy, so it’s not overly surprising that Spacek lost out to Faye Dunaway who was up for Network that year.

Four years later, Spacek took home the statue playing country singer Loretta Lynn in Michael Apted’s biopic, Coal Miner’s Daughter.  Spacek was chosen by Lynn herself for the part.  Lynn wasn’t familiar with Spacek’s previous work.  Her decision was based on a picture of the actress.  Despite the fact that Spacek had not yet agreed to take on the project, Lynn announced her decision to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

Spacek was initially reluctant to play the country music legend.  She says she asked the studio if she could do her own singing in the movie in hopes that would take her out of consideration.  It didn’t.  Trying to decide between Coal Miner’s Daughter and a project by director Nicolas Roeg, Spacek prayed for a sign. That night, she and her husband went for a drive.  They were listening to a radio station that changed formats daily.  At midnight, it switched from classical to country and Lynn’s signature song signaled the change in format.  Spacek took that as a sign and the rest was Oscar history.

Coal Miner’s Daughter was Spacek’s only Best Actress win, but she continued to be nominated throughout the decade.  In 1984, she was nominated for The River.  Two years later, she was nominated again for  Crimes of the Heart.  Her sixth and most recent nomination came many years later in 2001 for In the Bedroom.

In the late 70’s, Meryl Streep built a name for herself with movies like The Deer Hunter and Kramer vs. Kramer.  One year after Spacek won her award for Coal Miner’s Daughter, Streep earned her first Best Actress nomination for The French Lieutenant’s Woman.  The following year, Streep took home the statue for the drama’s Sophie’s Choice.

Whether you have seen the movie or not, you’re probably familiar with the title as a term for a decision with no good outcome.  Streep portrayed a Polish immigrant who had been interned in the Auschwitz during World War II.  When she arrived at the concentration camp with her two children, she was forced to choose one to live.

Author William Styron who wrote the novel the movie is based on, initially wrote his book with Ursula Andress in mind.  But Streep was determined to get the part.  She obtained a bootleg copy of the script and begged director Alan J. Pakula to consider her.  Streep did only one take of “the choice” scene claiming it was too painful to film it a second time.

While Streep has endured well into the 21st century, the 80’s were arguably her hey day.  She was nominated the following year for Silkwood, then again in 1985 for Out of Africa, for Ironweed in 1987 and A Cry in the Dark in 1988.  That’s six nominations and one win just within the eighties.  Few actresses can match that in an entire career!  Streep has 10 more nominations and another win which we will get to assuming she makes it further in the game.

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Posted on February 11, 2017, in Awards, bracket game, Movies, Oscars and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I thought about this more than I usually do, since I usually favor SOMEONE, but I just keep waffling. Spacek has “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “The River”, Streep has “Silkwood” and “Ironweed”; those are the films I’m using to decide. Spacek’s kind of an underdog, yet really ever voting for Streep is never wrong…I guess, I’ll vote for Streep due to her part in “Silkwood”, a film of the four that’s left the biggest impression on me due to its real life story and Theatrical /VHS poster cover (very ominous, and spooked me back in the day).

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    • I’m with you on Silkwood. If there is one movie of Meryl’s that grabs me each time I see it, it is that one. Little stuff like how Meryl gives Karen a cough that starts out small in the beginning and only grows more frequent as time goes on and big scenes like when Karen is decontaminated really impress. It doesn’t hurt that Meryl is surrounded by terrific co-stars either.

      On the other hand, there is Sissy. Coal Miner’s Daughter is just a great movie and Sissy’s work with Tommy Lee Jones and Beverly D’Angelo is excellent.

      I saw A Cry in the Dark the other night and I’ll use that as a tie break and give this to Meryl.

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  2. I didn’t really warm to Meryl Streep until I started to see her in movies with a lighter touch. Her skill and talent were without question in a movie like Sophie’s Choice, but the scope of her abilities didn’t really sink in for me until later years when I saw stuff like Defending Your Life, The Devil Wears Prada, and Julie & Julia. I like Spacek, but this vote goes to Meryl.

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    • During the 80’s when Streep was wracking up all these nominations, I was too young to be interested in most of the movies she made. Not to mention a lot of the latter ones didn’t get the best reviews outside of the performances. Like you, I came to appreciate her more later in her career as she branched out into other kinds of movies.

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      • I think one of those films would be “Out of Africa”? Like Toto, I bless the rains down in Africa too, but that film, well…I’ll stick to what I said before, that it is beautiful to look at, but hard to watch. Also, it wasn’t a film I was up for watching in the 1980’s either.

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