Friday, November 27, 2015

1985: Geraldine Page for The Trip to Bountiful

Page plays an old woman living in Houston with her son and extremely obnoxious daughter-in-law. All she wants is to visit her hometown of Bountiful once more before she dies, so she runs away to do just that.

I think this is one of the most frustratingly boring movies I've ever seen. I spent most of it wanting to punch the horrible daughter-in-law in the face and wondering why the son couldn't just take his mother on a trip back to her hometown. The movie isn't that long, but it could have easily been much shorter if it didn't drag so much. It didn't really seem to have much of a point, except maybe if all your aging mother talks about is wanting to see her childhood home, you should probably take her there. But as the movie shows, even if you don't it will all be okay, so don't even worry about it.

That being said, Geraldine Page's performance was pretty good. She was very convincing as an elderly woman, which is particularly impressive given that she was only about 60 at the time. I still don't really understand why she wanted to go back to Bountiful quite so badly - although I certainly get why she wanted to get away from that awful woman - but I never questioned that it was something she felt she desperately needed to do. She did a very good job of coming across as a friendly, harmless, terribly homesick old lady; in other words, she completely embodied the character. Several times she seemed on the verge of breaking down, giving the impression that the only thing keeping her sane was the thought of her childhood home. I particularly liked the way she progressively got more emotional when talking about Bountiful the closer she got to it.

Page's performance was by far the best aspect of this movie, but it still wasn't that exciting. Personally I think an Oscar-winning performance should have a lot more to it than this. I haven't seen all the other nominated performances from that year, but I definitely think Whoopi Goldberg's performance in The Color Purple deserved to beat this one. They both did a very good job, but Goldberg's role was much more complex, and therefore I found her performance much more impressive.

Part of the reason Page won has to be because she'd been nominated so many times before that people probably felt she had earned a win. Between 1953 and 1984 she was nominated for a total of 7 acting Oscars - three for leading roles and four for supporting roles - without ever winning. This was her final nomination, and she died of a heart attack a little over a year after receiving the award. Apparently many people consider her one of the best American actresses of all time, so I guess it's good that she ended up winning this Oscar, since it turned out to be basically her last chance. But this is not a movie I'll be revisiting anytime soon.

Next: Marlee Matlin finally breaks the record for youngest winner that was set in the very first ceremony

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