Oscar Justice: Michelle Pfeiffer

Welcome to Oscar Justice, a new weekly feature at Ice Creams for Freaks.  It’s a simple concept: I give an Oscar to someone who rightfully deserved it, then I follow the repercussions down the line until I am satisfied.

This week on Oscar Justice: Michelle Pfeiffer for The Fabulous Baker Boys


1988 Best Supporting Actress, Dangerous Liaisons – Lost to Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist
1989 Best Actress, The Fabulous Baker Boys – Lost to Jessica Tandy, Driving Miss Daisy
1992 Best Actress, Love Field – Lost to Emma Thompson, Howard’s End


The year is 1989 and Michelle Pfeiffer is on a hot streak.  Starting in 1987, she starred in The Witches of Eastwick, Married to the Mob, Tequila Sunrise and got her first Oscar nomination for Dangerous Liaisons.  It all peaked in 1989 as she memorably purred out a performance of “Makin’ Whoopie” on top of a piano in The Fabulous Baker Boys, opposite Jeff Bridges.

The film was a critical hit on a modest budget and the awards came rolling in.  Nominations and wins came in for Pfeiffer from the New York Film Critics Circle, National Society of Film Critics, National Board of Review, Los Angeles Film Critics, Chicago Film Critics and the Golden Globes.  She also earned nominations from the BAFTAs and her second Oscar nomination.

Unfortunately, when it came to the big golden statue, the Oscars passed up Pfeiffer in the exact same way the BAFTAs did.  They went for the populist pick and gave the Oscar to Jessica Tandy for Best Picture winner Driving Miss Daisy.


Michelle Pfeiffer defeats Jessica Tandy in 1989 and wins her one and only Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role.


Pfeiffer has had her fair share of iconic roles, but The Fabulous Baker Boys is the one nomination she unequivocally should have won for.  Emma Thompson has two Oscars (one for acting, one for writing), but I don’t want to take away Thompson’s acting Oscar for the sake of Love Field.  Geena Davis should have an Oscar for Thelma & Louise, if it wasn’t for inner competition from co-star Susan Sarandon and the fact that Jodie Foster delivered one of the most iconic female performances in history for Silence of the Lambs in the same year.  I’m not willing to take away Davis’ lone Oscar win.

I don’t have any ill will against Jessica Tandy, but any chance I get to deprive Driving Miss Daisy of any Oscar victories, I will jump at the opportunity.


With Pfeiffer earning her Oscar in 1989, Tandy is left Oscar-less.  Tandy was again nominated in 1991 for Best Supporting Actress for Fried Green Tomatoes.  She did not win that year as she was just two years past her Oscar win.  The victory was instead for another on-screen paramour of Jeff Bridges: Mercedes Ruehl in The Fisher King

Should Ruehl cede her Oscar to Tandy?  The performance is one of the highlights of Terry Gilliam’s film and Ruehl was never nominated again.  No, we will not be taking away Ruehl’s Oscar. Tandy will have to end her career with four Tony Awards, an Emmy Award, and a 52-year marriage to Hume Cronyn: quite the consolation prize.


Michelle Pfeiffer wins Best Actress in 1989 over Jessica Tandy
Mercedes Reuhl still wins Best Supporting Actress in 1991 over Jessica Tandy

Next time on Oscar Justice…Peter O’Toole finally gets his Oscar, but he doesn’t steal it from an all-time great performance

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