…In relentless pursuit of all performances nominated and won!
Nomination (winner: Cher in Moonstruck)
In this (perhaps little-known) late 1980s film, Sally Kirkland portrays Anna, a once-famous Czech film actress who is exiled to the United States after imprisonment for an uprising during the 1968 Czechoslovakian invasion. Now 44 and finding it difficult to secure good stage work as an ‘older/middle-aged’ actress in New York City, Anna reluctantly accepts a paid gig as an understudy while at the same time taking a young Czech refugee, Krystyna (a young Paulina Porizkova), under her wing and into her home. Krystyna has come to America to find Anna, for she idolizes Anna’s past film work and also wants to become an actress. As the film progresses, the plot is slightly reminiscent of 1950’s All About Eve and is therefore somewhat predictable. The fresh young actress blossoms under the tutelage of Anna and her married boyfriend Daniel; she learns English, polishes up her good looks, and ultimately lands film and modeling jobs while Anna’s career wanes and opportunities to go onstage as the understudy are snatched out of her hands last-minute. While Anna provides inspiration to Krystyna, she also confides painful memories of her past and exile which Krystyna eventually adopts as her own story – in the end, betraying her mentor.
I wasn’t prepared to like this film and in the end didn’t find it especially effective overall. However, there are moments where Kirkland does, indeed, shine. At the end of the film, she reveals a true poignancy as Anna’s past catches up to her in light of all that has transpired with Krystyna. You cannot help but feel a little sad for Kirkland’s Anna as she has to accept what fate has dealt her in life – and all that she has lost because of the choices she has made. With this nomination, she was pitted against solid performances by better-known, somewhat formidable actresses in 1987 – among them Holly Hunter (Broadcast News), Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction), and Meryl Streep (Ironweed). Kirkland surprisingly beat Glenn Close to the Dramatic Actress Golden Globe, but ultimately lost the Oscar to an unexpectedly solid performance by Cher in the romantic comedy Moonstruck.