Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Top Ten Oscar Travesties of the Golden Age: #9
The #9 Oscar Travesty of the Golden Age
Luise Rainier wins Best Actress Oscars in 1936 and 1937.
Luise Rainier's consecutive Oscar wins were a blight on an otherwise glorious era of cinema. I honestly don't have much ire to vent about her win for The Great Ziegfeld. Yes, it's melodramatic and painful to watch, but the other nominees' performances didn't move me much, either. It didn't make me angry as when Rainier won the next year's award, for The Good Earth. That is when we’ve entered travesty territory! The travesty is that the other nominees she bested all gave career-defining or near-career defining performances. Her winning a second time denied more-deserving actresses two years in a row. It's one thing for an actress to win along with a film's Oscar sweep, but to have it happen two years running is where my incredulity begins. In fact, I'll bet during my more "vulnerable" moments, my eyes will bulge and my face will contort and stretch just like Rainier's did in The Good Earth. It's especially painful when you realize the calibre of performer that she defeated among that year's Best Actress nominees:
Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth
Greta Garbo in Camille
Janet Gaynor in A Star Is Born
Barbara Stanwyck in Stella Dallas
To make matters worse, Rainier split from Hollywood at the peak of her stardom, making an appraisal of what "could have been" impossible. I truly believe that Hollywood wants to forget she ever existed. God bless her for fighting the system, kicking the moguls to the curb before they could do the same to her, and living a long life, but Luise Rainier had no business winning Academy Awards; and certainly not two in a row. Her back-to-back wins exist only as the answer to a trivia question and to serve as a reason to shake one's head in disbelief.