Best Actress Bracket Game: Diane Keaton Vs. Meryl Streep
Meryl’s looking confident, isn’t she? She probably should be. Diane, not so much. For the second day in a row, we have a David and Goliath story playing out in the bracket game. Can Diane Keaton’s Oscar-level adorability stop Meryl Streep in her tracks? Or will she continue her seemingly inevitable march to the finals with pieces of Annie Hall stuck to her heel? There’s only one way to find out.
But first, let’s see if we had an upset yesterday:
Nope. Turns out all the Disney magic in the world couldn’t help Julie Andrews get past Katharine Hepburn. Oh well. She can console herself in having a superior singing voice. It should be noted, this wasn’t the blow-out some might have expected. Andrews secured nearly 40% of the votes. That means Hepburn advances to the next round with only Ingrid Bergman standing between her and the finals.
In the write-up for the the first round, I focused on Meryl Streep’s dominance in the 1980’s. During that decade, Streep quickly established herself as one of the most respected (and nominated) actresses of her time. Going in to the 90’s, Streep started to mix things up. In the short term, it was a move that seemed to take some of the luster off of her career.
If you were going to pinpoint the moment when Streep changed gears, it would have to be starring with Roseanne Barr in Susan Seidelman critically panned dark comedy, She-Devil. This wasn’t just a move to comedy, it felt like Streep was slumming. In 1990, she seemed to come to her senses with a more acceptable comedic drama in Postcards From the Edge. The Academy Awarded Streep with her seventh nomination if for no other reason than her costar wasn’t on TV.
Streep continued in comedies for the next couple of years with the wonderfully whimsical Albert Brooks rom-com Defending Your Life and the special-effects driven Robert Zemeckis movie Death Becomes Her. In 1994, she tried out the action genre with The River Wild, but it wasn’t the best fit.
The following year, Streep returned to dramatic roles (and accents) in Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of the popular novel, The Bridges of Madison County. The Academy was satisfied enough to grant Streep another nomination. For the rest of the decade, she continued working in dramas. But none of her movies from the late 90’s really caught on. Streep managed to score one more nomination in 1998 for the cancer drama, One True Thing. No, I didn’t remember that one either.
By the end of the 20th century, Streep’s career seemed to have cooled off. She was still making movies and would still earn nominations in less than competitive fields. But most of her movies were no longer playing to general audiences. For most actresses, that trend likely would have continued but not so for Streep. Against all odds, her story had a third act which we will get to should she advance to the next round.
Following her Best Actress win for Annie Hall in 1977, Diane Keaton made a couple more movies with Woody Allen (Interiors and Manhattan) but they were no longer romantically involved. Keaton moved on to a relationship with Warren Beatty with whom she starred in the 1981 historical drama, Reds. That movie racked up a dozen nominations including Best Actress for Keaton (she lost to Katherine Hepburn for On Golden Pond).
For the rest of the decade, Keaton remained a sought-after leading lady. But none of her movies during that time attracted Oscar attention. In 1990, she returned to the Godfather trilogy and the following year she had a big hit with the remake of Father of the Bride. Her next Oscar nomination came in 1996 for the cancer drama, Marvin’s Room (which costarred Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep). It was a big year for Keaton. Not only did she costar in the hit comedy, The First Wives Club, she was nominated for Best Actress over Streep for Marvin’s Room.
This is where you would expect Keaton’s career to taper off. But she kept going strong into the 21st century. Her most recent Best Actress nomination came in 2003 for the romantic comedy, Something’s Gotta Give.