Oscar Justice: Annette Bening

Welcome to Oscar Justice, a 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: Annette Bening in The Grifters


1990 Best Supporting Actress, The Grifters – Lost toWhoopi Goldberg, Ghost
1999 Best Actress, American Beauty – Lost to Hillary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry
2004 Best Actress, Being Julia – Lost to Hillary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
2010 Best Actress, The Kids Are All Right – Lost to Natalie Portman, Black Swan


Annette Bening made her film debut in 1988 in The Great Outdoors.  Following her first lead role in 1989’s Valmont, she burst onto the scene in a big way as a complicated con artist willing to do whatever it takes in Stephen Frears’ The Grifters.  Bening gained widespread acclaim, critics prizes and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.  Despite losing the Oscar in 1990, Bening shot through to stardom with a string of successful films, a lasting marriage to Warren Beatty and three additional Oscar nominations.

Not only has Bening been nominated four times, she has just missed a nomination or been buzzed for her performance on another half-dozen occurrences.  One of the most consistently great actresses of her generation, Bening is still seeking that first Oscar trophy.


Annette Bening defeats Whoopi Goldberg at the 1990 Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.


The three other nominations Bening received were not feasible for her to win.  I love Bening’s performance in The Kids Are All Right, but no one was beating or would ever beat Natalie Portman in Black Swan in 2010.

Hillary Swank is Bening’s boogeyman when it comes to Oscar, defeating her twice where she was probably the runner-up.  I love Swank’s performance and win in 1999 for Boys Don’t Cry and I am cooler on Bening’s performance in American Beauty than most.  Her 2004 performance in Being Julia is a reputation nomination over the actual performance.  Plus, I already gave that Oscar to someone else.

The Grifters was a challenging, complex performance from a new and exciting actress.  She is absolutely unafraid of how her character comes across and that only increases her watchability.  This is the one performance I wish she was known for.


Bening’s win in 1990 takes an Oscar away from Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost.  Many people (including myself) saw that nomination and win as a make-up for not properly rewarding her magnificent performance in The Color Purple in 1985.  Let’s go ahead and rewrite that history and give Whoopi the Oscar in 1985.  In reality, Halle Berry was the first black woman to win Best Actress in 2001, but re-written history gave made it Angela Bassett in 1993.  Further rewriting now gives it Goldberg.

With Whoopi’s victory, 1985 Best Actress winner Geraldine Page has her Oscar taken away.  Just like many other oft-nominated actors and actresses, they don’t go Oscar-less because of their quality, but because they are defeated by incredible performances.  This applies for Page as well.  Throughout the years, Page has lost Oscars to Donna Reed in From Here to Eternity, Sophia Loren in Two Women, Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker, Sandy Dennis in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Eileen Heckart in Butterflies are Free.  The two possibilities for a Page Oscar are against Dame Peggy Ashcroft in 1984 and Jane Fonda in 1978.

I like the idea of Ashcroft winning her Oscar from her only nomination, so that one stays put.  Fonda on the other hand has an Oscar to spare.  I do love her performance in Coming Home, but when you have two Oscars, you have one to spare.   If I give Fonda a second Oscar elsewhere, there is an endless rabbit hole of shuffling Oscars for Maggie Smith, Maureen Stapleton and others.  I love Fonda on the screen and believe she should have two Oscars, but this is an imaginary world where I can take away and re-reward people their Oscars, so let’s not get bogged down in semantics.  Page wins the Oscar for Interiors in 1978.


Geraldine Page wins Best Actress in 1978 over Jane Fonda
Whoopi Goldberg wins Best Actress in 1985 over Geraldine Page
Annette Bening wins Best Supporting Actress in 1990 over Whoopi Goldberg

All Oscar Justice category fixes

Next time on Oscar Justice…Sean Penn wins his Oscar for his first nomination, which reverberates through four of the Best Actor races of the 2000s.

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