I used to give this performance a better spot in my ranking and I also like it when the Academy recognizes un-showy performances that don’t seem tailor-made to win awards – but at the same time I just don’t like it too much when I have to ‘look for an Oscar-winning performance’, meaning that I would probably never even notice Shelley Winters in The Diary of Anne Frank if she had not won an Oscar for it. So, she’s maybe stuck with a very thin part that pales compared to almost every other one in the movie but Shelley Winters still made a large impression in this talented ensemble.
Overall, Shelley Winters’s character is not only the opposite of Mrs. Frank but she also uses the opposite acting style than Gusti Huber – while Gusti Huber is mostly very subtle and not showing the worries that torture her character, Shelley Winters always shows the fears of Mrs. Van Daan. This way, she gets some very effective close-up that show her fear of death, of the Nazis, of being finally caught.
Among the ensemble of The Diary of Anne Frank, Shelley Winters does not really stand out but she is a powerful part of it.