Welcome to Season 2 of Oscar Justice, a weekly feature at IceCream4Freaks. 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: Geena Davis in Thelma & Louise
1988 Best Supporting Actress, The Accidental Tourist – WINNER
1991 Best Actress, Thelma & Louise – Lost to Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs
Geena Davis started her career as a model until Sydney Pollock cast her in 1982’s Tootsie. From there, Davis had a steady rise in fame until she broke through with roles in 1985’s Fletch and 1986’s The Fly. Following another hit with 1988’s Beetlejuice, critical success was soon to follow.
Director Lawrence Kasden cast Davis as a quirky dog trainer in 1988’s The Accidental Tourist. The film gardnered four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and earned Davis an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Davis stayed hot with another Oscar nomination in 1991 alongside her co-star Susan Sarandon in Thelma & Louise. Despite neither winning, the film continues to be a cultural touchstone.
In 1992, Davis starred in A League of Their Own alongside Tom Hanks. The film was a critical hit and was the highest grossing film of her career at that point. At a critical and commercial high, Davis starred in back-to-back films Cutthroat Island and The Long Kiss Goodnight with her then-husband, director Renny Harlin. Both films were seen as failures, which halted her career momentum.
Following a stint in the Stuart Little films and some well-regarded television work in the early 2000s, Davis turned her eyes towards philanthropy. Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which researches gender representation in media and advocates for the equal representation in media. For her efforts, Davis was awarded the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2019.
Davis continues to work in film and television and is prime for a comeback.
Geena Davis defeats Jodie Foster at the 1991 Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
WHY THIS JUSTICE?
Does anyone care about The Accidental Tourist? How well-seen is it? Does it have any cultural relevance outside of Davis’ Oscar win? Absolutely not.
Meanwhile, her performance in Thelma & Louise only gets better as the years go by. It’s a difficult decision to choose between the central duo of the film, but I find Davis’ character more complex. Sarandon nails her characters’ resolve and toughness, but it’s Davis’ Thelma who morphs from a quiet, subservient housewife to an energized woman of freedom, to an hard-nosed bringer of justice.
The 1991 Best Actress race is a juggernaut. While Jodie Foster earned her second Oscar for her classic role in Silence of the Lambs, Laura Dern found herself nominated for the first time for Rambling Rose, while Bette Midler nabbed her second nomination in For the Boys. Those five women all deserved the award, but Foster ended up triumphant. Dern, Foster and Sarandon have other alternatives for Oscars (sorry Bette), while Davis’ win in 1988 never sat right with me. Plus, I think she gives the best performance in the year of great performances.
With Davis’ Oscar in 1991, that leaves the door open for her statue in 1988. While Michelle Pfeiffer and Frances McDormand are already awarded in real-life or by me, the pair of ladies from Working Girl look to step in. I love the particular comic stylings of Joan Cusack, but having Sigourney Weaver leave 1988 Oscar-less left a bad taste in my mount. So, Weaver gets her statue in 1988.
Davis’ win in 1991 leaves Foster with three other nominations to choose from. I just gave Sarandon the Oscar in 1994, so that’s a no for Nell. I already took away her Oscar in 1988 and gave it to Glenn Close, so that’s another no. But, she was nominated for one of the best juvenile performances in 1976’s Taxi Driver. That’s a performance I can get behind, so Foster wins at the tender age of 12.
That win takes an Oscar away from Beatrice Straight for Network. Nothing against that great character actress, but her performance is memorable but slight. Despite her powerful on-screen persona, Straight appeared in the film for a mere five minutes and two seconds. Straight was never nominated again and passed away in 2001 at age 86.
Geena Davis wins Best Actress in 1991 over Jodie Foster
Sigourney Weaver wins Best Supporting Actress in 1988 over Geena Davis
Jodie Foster wins Best Supporting Actress in 1976 over Beatrice Straight
Next time on Oscar Justice, a three-time Emmy winner and two-time Tony winner gets a well-deserved Oscar