The Best Actresses of 1977

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1977’s Best Actress Oscar win for Diane Keaton for her performance in Annie Hall seems like one of those pre-ordained victories–like Helen Mirren’s sweep of the 2006 awards season for The Queen. (A sweep in 2006 constitutes a lot more awards than even existed in 1977, as evidenced by The Queen‘s IMDb awards page.) Keaton steamrolled the 1977 awards season, taking home an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and awards from the New York Film Critics’ Circle, and their more highbrow rivals at the National Society of Film Critics. The National Board of Review was so eager to award Keaton that its voters shoved her into the supporting category. It’s not entirely a case of category fraud, given that Annie Hall is a solipsistic monument to Allen’s ego in which Keaton plays Zeppo as Allen tries to play Groucho, Harpo, and Chico at the same time. She even managed to snag a second Globe nomination for her performance in Looking for Mr. Goodbar.

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electric blue: win; baby blue: nomination; gray: mention/runner-up

The only major awards body that overlooked Keaton was the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Allen’s New York chauvinism had led to some bad feelings between L.A. and Allen, so Annie Hall managed only a screenplay win (I wish they were more troubled by his male chauvinism). For Best Actress, LAFCA went with Shelley Duvall’s bizarre performance as Millie Lammoreaux in Robert Altman’s 3 Women. Like Sally Hawkins for Happy Go Lucky in the 2008 awards season, Duvall in 1977 plays the role of the critical favorite who manages to win multiple awards–she also tied for Best Actress at Cannes–yet fails to make the roster on Oscar nomination morning (which is something like Christmas morning for extremely gay people such as myself but without the oppressive family aspects). Her costar Sissy Spacek had won her first nomination the year before for her iconic performance in Carrie but awards bodies placed her, erroneously, in the supporting category. Category fraud or not, she too came up empty on Oscar nomination morning.

After first-time nominee Keaton, 1971 winner Jane Fonda received the most support from awards bodies, though both of her wins came in races in which Keaton’s Annie Hall performance was ineligible: the Golden Globe roster for Best Actress in a Drama, and the BAFTA nominees for Best Actress of 1978–the year after Keaton won the same trophy. Still, awards bodies rallied for JuliaGod knows why, but they didand Fonda’s nomination was pretty secure, as was 1962 winner Anne Bancroft’s for The Turning Pointwhich managed to snag eleven nominations despite being objectively horrible in nearly every way. Marsha Mason actually managed to tie Keaton for the Golden Globe for her performance in The Goodbye Girl, and it seems she must have been relatively secure on nomination morning.

The person who knocked Duvall out of the running was the still-Oscarless superstar Shirley MacLaine for her performance as Bancroft’s old friend and rival in The Turning Point. MacLaine had the less showy role (she is the Sally Durant to Bancroft’s Phyllis Stone) and no precursor support, but the Academy’s love for The Turning Point–and to the star who famously “lost to a tracheotomy” in 1960gave MacLaine the fifth spot on the roster. She would have to wait six more years to finally get her statuette.

So, who deserved a seat at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for Oscar’s 50th birthday bash and who, well, didn’t? Find out after the jump.

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