My current Top 5

My current Top 5

6/28/2011

Number 66: Lee Grant as Felicia Carr in "Shampoo" (Best Supporting Actress Ranking)

And we have another member of the ‘I’m glad this actress has an Oscar but why did it have to be for this movie?’ club.

In Shampoo, Lee Grant plays Felicia Carr, the bored society wife of a politician and one of the many mistresses of Warren Beatty (I lost track how many times she has sex with him during the movie).

First I want to say the good things about her performance: Lee Grant is a great actress and in Shampoo, you can see how she sinks her teeth into this part. Not a single line seems wasted, she uses every opportunity to shine and command the screen (but in a good way). Of all the women in the movie, she seems to be the only one truly dedicated to her role, trying make as much impression as possible. First, we only hear Felicia while she is having sex with George in a dark bed-room and Lee delivers her lines excellently (‘Could you just move…because that’s…that’s…JESUS CHRIST!…that’s right…’). In a later scene, she has a great emotional moment when she is angry at George and tells him ‘Don’t take up my time because my time is important!…You have no respect for me. You, you, you, you can’t distinguish between me and one of your goddamn Hollywood numbers!’ And then there is her strong final scene at the election party when is she is realizing that her life is slowly falling apart (she seems to lose both her husband and her lover to another woman) and she tells her husband ‘I hope you like Miss Shawn. Because she’s going to be very, very expensive.’ And her final scene, when she is showing her husband the finger, is a great way for the character to leave.

Now the not so good things: Despite the fact that Lee Grant gives all she has in this role, she totally misses what all the others have: charm. Shampoo is a light comedy and Goldie Hawn, Julie Christie and Warren Beatty can make that work, but Lee Grant can’t. Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn also have much more chemistry and screen presence – and, on top of that, better roles that require much more emotional and intellectual acting.

It’s almost thrilling to see Lee Grant take such a throwaway-role and fill it with life but at the same time her combination of missing screen-presence and lack of screen-time make it hard for her to stand out – even in an overall rather lifeless movie like Shampoo. It’s frustrating that Lee Grant, despite all her efforts, remains so incredibly pale – as I said, she tries very hard but can only go so far and, at the end of the day, it seems rather shocking that a majority of Academy members actually thought that this was an Oscar-worthy performance.

An actress with more natural charm and a stronger screen-presence might have done more in this role but ultimately, even the most talented actress could not have overcome the limitations of the script and the part. In this way, Lee Grant did a respactable job – but hardly praiseworthy.

7 comments:

Alex in Movieland said...

they should've saved the win for one of the Nashville ladies, especially Ronee.

Sage Slowdive said...

She's as good as a supporting player can possibly be.

At least Ruth will get a little higher this time... :)

Louis Morgan said...

I thought she was pretty good actually, certainly much better than several yet listed.

joe burns said...

She's okay, but overally mannered and annoying. I haven't seen it in the context of the film yet though.

joe burns said...

Ronne Blakey was FAR MORE DESERVING!!!!!!!!!! So was Lily Tomlin, to a lesser extent, but still great. What are your thoughts on both of them?

Fritz said...

I have to admit that I haven't seen Nashville yet.

joe burns said...

What?!!!!! See it now!