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Was there ever any theories of how Susan Sarandon got a lead nomination in 1981


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  • RobertPius
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    for Atlantic City. She was campaigned as supporting and says she even voted for herself as supporting.

    Who do you think would have got the nomination in lead had Sarandon been in supporting?

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    Vincent Yeoh
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    I remember being thrilled to find Susan Sarandon nominated for her performance in Atlantic City. She was stunning and subtle at the same time. She was definitely lead as Kate Reid would have been properly supporting if nominated.
    I thought Audrey Hepburn was delightful in They All Laughed, an interesting and quirky movie that somehow went under the radar when released. I would have considered her for a best actress nomination.

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    Milk Money
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    Susan definitely took Faye Dunaway’s spot for Mommie Dearest. Faye was the expected 5th nominee that year along with a makeup nomination.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  Milk Money.
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    Aunt Peg
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    I saw glad Sarandon got nominated in the lead category. It was where she belonged and she did give the best lead actress performance of the year. I suspect had Sarandon been slotted into the supporting category that the 5th spot would have gone to either Sally Field for Absence of Malice or Sissy Spacek for Raggedy Man. I suspect at the time Faye Dunnaway’s excellent work in Mommie Dearest was not liked by much of Academy membership due to the source material, as a lot of members at the time would have known and worked with Joan Crawford.

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    RobertPius
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    Yes they probably would have gone with safer choices like Field or Spacek. It is what the globes did. Peers of Crawford did sort of resent the film. Like it was telling tales out of school and people didn’t realize how common abuse was back in those days.

    The next generation loved the performance though. I’ve read or heard interviews with Debra Winger and Edward Norton who both praise the Dunaway performance as being a big influence for them.

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    Vincent Yeoh
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    Yes they probably would have gone with safer choices like Field or Spacek. It is what the globes did. Peers of Crawford did sort of resent the film. Like it was telling tales out of school and people didn’t realize how common abuse was back in those days.

    The next generation loved the performance though. I’ve read or heard interviews with Debra Winger and Edward Norton who both praise the Dunaway performance as being a big influence for them.

    Performance is the word. Watching Faye in Mommie Dearest, you know she is acting. And acting the hell out of that part. It was compelling, yet it was campy.
    On the other hand, Sarandon who was then known mainly for Rocky Horror, inhabited her character in Atlantic City and was both delicate and sultry in that part. I’d still give the nomination to her.

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    JayDF
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    I would personally hope Sissy Spacek would have gotten that spot if Sarandon had made it in supporting. Besides Field, maybe Carol Burnett in “The Four Seasons”? I don’t know, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that film, but following an oscar nod the year before for Mary Tyler Moore maybe there’s a slight narrative for Burnett. I don’t see Dunaway getting in before Spacek or Field.

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    DaKardii
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    I don’t see Dunaway getting in before Spacek or Field.

    I don’t see Dunaway getting in, period. When Mommie Dearest first came out, it was critically panned. Roger Ebert in particular strongly disliked it, giving it a one-star review which opened with:

    I can’t imagine who would want to subject themselves to this movie.

    The film was nominated for nine Razzies (Worst Picture, Worst Director (Frank Perry), Worst Actress (Faye Dunaway), Worst Supporting Actor (Steve Forrest), Worst Supporting Actress (Rutanya Alda), Worst Supporting Actress (Mara Hobel), Worst Supporting Actress (Diana Scarwid), Worst Screenplay, and Worst New Star (Mara Hobel)), and won five (Worst Picture, Worst Actress (Faye Dunaway), Worst Supporting Actor (Steve Forrest), Worst Supporting Actress (Diana Scarwid), and Worst Screenplay).

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    RobertPius
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    The film was nominated for nine Razzies (Worst Picture, Worst Director (Frank Perry), Worst Actress (Faye Dunaway), Worst Supporting Actor (Steve Forrest), Worst Supporting Actress (Rutanya Alda), Worst Supporting Actress (Mara Hobel), Worst Supporting Actress (Diana Scarwid), Worst Screenplay, and Worst New Star (Mara Hobel)), and won five (Worst Picture, Worst Actress (Faye Dunaway), Worst Supporting Actor (Steve Forrest), Worst Supporting Actress (Diana Scarwid), and Worst Screenplay).

    But it also received some strong reviews and Dunaway was a runner up for both the New York and National Society of Film Critics Best Actress award.

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    Milk Money
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    But it also received some strong reviews and Dunaway was a runner up for both the New York and National Society of Film Critics Best Actress award.

    True. Razzies weren’t really a thing yet either. The general consensus at the time was despite the campiness and mixed reviews on Faye’s portrayal, her then A-List status would keep her safe for the final five. Plus the film was a box office hit so many voters at least saw the film over other would-be contenders.

    In hindsight, I think the one thing that would have helped saved Faye’s career from tanking after the dust settled, at least until Barfly, was this nomination.

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    RobertPius
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    True. Razzies weren’t really a thing yet either. The general consensus at the time was despite the campiness and mixed reviews on Faye’s portrayal, her then A-List status would keep her safe for the final five. Plus the film was a box office hit so many voters at least saw the film over other would-be contenders.

    In hindsight, I think the one thing that would have helped saved Faye’s career from tanking after the dust settled, at least until Barfly, was this nomination.

    That’s a really good point. If she had been nominated the film wouldn’t have had the stigma it developed.

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    KarlVillalobos
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    I would’ve switch Mason’s spot for My girl’s Raggedy Man.

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    Aunt Peg
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    The stigma all started with the book which was hugely scandalous at the time. People like Henry Fonda & Barbara Stanwyck amongst many others expressed their dismay and disgust at Christina’s book.

    Joan had only been dead less than half a dozen years when the film came out and a huge majority of Academy members would have known or worked with Joan. She was highly regarded and respected within the industry by her peers in front of and beyond the camera (Bette Davis one of the very few exceptions). There was not way Dunnaway was going to be nominated for that performance at that time.

    Had an adaptation of the book been made much later that might have made a difference but so soon after Joan’s death – no way.

    Faye can take solace in that time has been kind to the film and her performance in it, so the speak, as it has many admirers and fans over 45 years later. More so than any of the performances that were nominated for 1981 in any of the acting categories combined.

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    DaKardii
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    Had an adaptation of the book been made much later that might have made a difference but so soon after Joan’s death – no way.

    I don’t see a nomination happening even if the film came out later than it did.

    For one thing, the production was troubled. Christina wanted to write the script herself, but her script was rejected in favor of a script that deviated from her book and exaggerated the scale of Joan’s mental illness. When Anne Bancroft, who had been cast as Joan at the time, read the revised script, she quit the project in disgust. When Dunaway was cast to replace Bancroft, things only got worse. She basically tried to take over the set and run it like a dictator. She demanded that cast members have their backs turned whenever the camera was on her, unless they were supposed to be in the shot themselves. She (allegedly) threatened to see to it that anybody who looked pretty onset (aside from herself) was fired.  And she threatened to quit the project unless her then-husband Terry O’Neill was given a producing credit, despite the fact that he did literally nothing to contribute to production.

    And then there’s the advertisement campaign. After negative reviews started pouring in, Paramount advertised the film as being a camp classic comedy. This infuriated cast and crew alike.

    Oh, and did I mention that Christina hated the film? She saw it as doing an injustice to her story, and particularly disliked Dunaway’s performance.

    Yeah. I can’t see this film doing well, regardless of which year it was released.

    Faye can take solace in that time has been kind to the film and her performance in it, so the speak, as it has many admirers and fans over 45 years later.

    Over 35 years later, you mean.

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    AwardsConnect
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    It almost surely would’ve been Field.

    Dunaway reportedly said in private she was stunned not to earn a Best Actress nom – that’s a tad odd, however, considering Paramount didn’t give Mommie Dearest an Oscar campaign. Those critics’ mentions were from the few writers, including Pauline Kael, willing to admit how fabulous Dunaway was in that trainwreck of a picture. But Paramount, pleased as they were by its box office receipts, didn’t take the film very seriously – in fact, during its theatrical run, they completely changed up the marketing on it, billing it as a campy Rocky Horror-level experience. It was hardly on their list of Oscar priorities.

    For the finest in film reviews and awards analysis, please visit me at The Awards Connection!

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