After having watched and reviewed all five nominated performances, it's time to pick the winner!
Wendy Hiller achieved to be both completely logical but also strangely inadequate as Eliza Doolittle. The role seems to both over- and underwhelm her and as a consequence she stayed on one note for most of the time. Still, she saves her performance in parts with her own personality that is certainly right for the role and her own instincts which make her mostly do the right things, even though unfortunately often the wrong way.
Fay Bainter sprinkles with charm and warmth and it is not hard to believe that her smile, her support and her understanding can brighten up the live of anybody she ever meets. It’s neither a complex performance nor a complex role but Fay Bainter does find the right tone, the right face and the right approach to this character, creating some beautiful moments, making her actions and intentions believable and not overdoing the sentiment of the story – she’s strong, believable and loving.
Margaret Sullavan’s performance is a beautiful example of an actress taking what could basically be considered a throwaway-role and filling it with life, meaning and much more. Her unique screen presence that helps her to appear so completely mature and decisive while also emphasizing the emotional desperation of Pat Hollmann is combined very effectively with her instincts for the role and so resulted in a maybe still limited but much deeper and more captivating performance than expected.
2. Bette Davis in Jezebel
Bette Davis's take on this character is spellbinding, entertaining and unforgettable. Her mysterious screen personality may have prevented her from creating a complete Southern Belle but it turned other moments, even simple ones like walking into a bank, into movie magic. And because of her ability to show various different aspects in Julie’s character while also displaying an honest core, she was also able to make the final moments of Jezebel believable without turning them into hollow pathos.