The Oscar 100: #10-6

This post marks Part 19 of the 20-part series The Oscar 100. Join me as I reflect on the 100 greatest Oscar-nominated performances and what made them so richly deserving of recognition.

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10. Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) (WINNER)

His competition...

Walter Matthau, The Sunshine Boys
Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon
Maximilian Schell, The Man in the Glass Booth
James Whitmore, Give 'em Hell, Harry!

Nicholson portrays Randle Patrick McMurphy, a free-spirited criminal who, once again in trouble with the law, pleads insanity to avoid prison and is instead sent to a mental institution for evaluation. There, he befriends the hospital's motley crew of patients, winning them over with an unconstrained spirit sorely lacking in the facility. Not so fond of McMurphy's behavior is the frosty Nurse Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher), wary of the new resident shaking up the stability she's established on her ward. This performance marked Nicholson's fifth Oscar nomination and first win.

By 1975, with a quartet of Oscar nominations and losses under his belt, Nicholson unbelievably found himself on the same track as the likes of Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole - without a win soon, he could very well end up among the all-time Oscar losers.

So, no doubt determined to at large emerge victorious, Nicholson signed on to not one, not two but four ambitious projects for '75. One, the screwball comedy The Fortune, was, despite the presence of director Mike Nichols and co-star Warren Beatty, an embarrassing flop. Another, Tommy, was a commercial success but merely found Nicholson in a cameo role, as "The Specialist." The Passenger was met to immense critical acclaim but failed to resonate with American moviegoers like it so splendidly did with attendees at the Cannes Film Festival.

Last, but most certainly not least, was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a picture that spent years struggling to get off the ground.

For nearly a decade, Kirk Douglas, who originated the role of McMurphy on Broadway and owned the film rights to the story, tried, to no avail, to get a movie adaptation going. There came a point when Kirk opted to pass the rights along to son Michael, who, unlike his father, was able to secure financing for the picture. By this point, however, Kirk was too old to reprise his role, so the search began for a new McMurphy.

Ultimately, the suggestion of Nicholson came from Hal Ashby, who'd earlier directed him to an Oscar nomination for The Last Detail and, with the success of Shampoo in 1975, was hot and influential as ever. Nicholson jumped on board and the rest is history. 

Not only would Nicholson deliver a career-best performance, at last taking home that elusive Oscar, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ended up steamrolling on the big night, staging the first clean sweep of the big five categories (Best Picture/Director/Lead Actor/Lead Actress/Screenplay) since It Happened One Night in 1934.

Over the decades to follow, Nicholson would turn in a plethora of memorable performances but none at the same sky-high level as Cuckoo's Nest.

The mere thought of Nicholson as McMurphy puts a big smile on my face...before sending a lump down my throat. It's a force of nature turn full of effervescent vitality, his jubilation and humanity making McMurphy's ultimate demise all the more devastating. Nicholson has one knockout scene after another with his remarkable cast, from Will Sampson as the daunting, perplexing Chief to the Oscar-nominated Brad Dourif as the sweet, fragile Billy. It's one of the all-time great ensembles of the big screen.

Of course, there is also Nicholson's stirring sparring with Fletcher, blood-curling as the inimitable Nurse Ratched, hellbent on sucking the life out of her new patient and bringing an end to the euphoria McMurphy suddenly instilled in the ward. Both actors wisely underplay their resentment toward each other, until it finally bursts to the surface in their savage showdown near the film's conclusion.

I have to imagine audiences in the 1970s responded to Nicholson's work much in the same way moviegoers did Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift in the 1950s. It's as if he invented a whole new level of magnetism, never before seen on the screen. And much like Brando and Clift at their best, Nicholson at his finest, in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, continues to feel fresh and revolutionary to this day.

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9. Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Her competition...

Anne Baxter, All About Eve
Bette Davis, All About Eve
Judy Holliday, Born Yesterday (WINNER)
Eleanor Parker, Caged

Swanson portrays Norma Desmond, once a superstar of silent film but now isolated from the outside world, residing in her decaying mansion on Sunset Boulevard alongside protective butler and driver Max Von Mayerling (Erich von Stroheim). Though she hasn't worked in ages, Norma is convinced she will someday make a grand return to the silver screen. So, when struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) enters her life and agrees to be script doctor on her dream comeback vehicle about Salome, Norma sees stardom on the horizon. It isn't long before Norma falls in love with her handsome visitor - an infatuation soon tested by Joe's affection for fellow young scribe Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olson). This performance marked Swanson's third and final Oscar nomination.

"The greatest star of them all," indeed.

1950 Best Actress is a legendary affair for Oscar aficionados, the presumed Davis vs. Swanson barn burner instead upset by Holliday, gracing the one comedy of the quintet. It's tough to much bash Holliday's victory, given what a delight she is in Born Yesterday, but it's even harder to stomach Swanson not winning the prize for such a monumental performance.

On the big night, Holliday and Swanson were in fact together in New York, listening to the broadcast over the radio. Suffice to say, while she didn't go on a Norma Desmondesque tirade, Swanson was not very happy. Where a win would have propelled Swanson back on the Hollywood A-list for years to come, with no shortage of parts coming her way, a mere nomination resulted in negligible future success. She would have one more, final leading role in an American production - portraying, once again, a fading film star, in 3 for Bedroom C - before turning her attention to guest spots on the small screen. An attempt to get a Sunset Boulevard musical off the ground for Broadway never came to fruition for Swanson, though would of course much later see the light of day through Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Sunset Boulevard may not have paid the dividends for Swanson as she may have hoped but such hardly diminishes the fact that this is one of the most electrifying performances ever captured on film, a riveting, all too convincing portrayal of a woman who is both deranged and irresistible. 

Incredibly, Swanson was not writer/director Billy Wilder's first or even second choice for Norma. Wilder first approached Polish film star Pola Negri for the role and later Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer. When they didn't pan out, Wilder sought the counsel of director George Cukor, who suggested Swanson for the part - she was, after all, like Norma, a once-beloved star of silent film who struggled to make the transition into talking pictures.

Swanson was hardly a demented lunatic like Norma but, over her countless appearances on the screen, had more than showcased her acting chops (and earned a pair of Oscar nominations in the process). Much to her chagrin, Swanson was forced to do a screen test for Paramount. No surprise, however, it went splendidly. She was everything Wilder, producer/co-writer Charles Brackett and the studio dreamed of for Norma.

Unlike Davis' Margo Channing in All About Eve, a woman who fears facing reality, Swanson's Norma is altogether incapable of seeing it. She's wrapped up in her own world of make-believe, convinced she's still worshiped by countless fans, who supposedly write her one adoring letter after another (all of which, in actuality, are penned by Max). Secluded from the world and living out her days watching old movies headlined by herself, Norma has driven herself into delusional madness. 

Swanson's approach to Norma couldn't be more perfect. She wholeheartedly gets what Wilder is going for, that blend of Hollywood satire and jaw-dropping drama that, in other, lesser hands, could have played as overwrought and unconvincing. Swanson towers over the proceedings with a performance that, while elaborate and larger than life, always feels just enough grounded in reality. One moment, Swanson commands the screen with an awe-inspiring fierceness that feels unconquerable. The next, however, she can instill Norma with a sad fragility that makes her look anything but immortal. Her experience in silent cinema works wonders here, with those big, bulging eyes and batty facial expressions making Norma all the more captivating and bizarre a sight to behold. Wilder also provides Swanson no shortage of opportunity to show off both her comic and romantic sides, her chemistry with fellow Oscar 100 inductee Holden potent as ever.

When Norma returns to Paramount for the first time in years, convinced she'll be meeting with Cecil B. DeMille about her Salome project, she is swarmed by cast and crew, particularly the older studio employees, delighted to see her back where she belongs. As a viewer, you're liable to try jumping into the screen to join them, not to fawn over Norma but rather worship Swanson, who as Norma delivers one of the most outrageously brilliant performances to ever grace the screen.

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8. Shirley Booth in Come Back, Little Sheba (1952) (WINNER)

Her competition...

Joan Crawford, Sudden Fear
Bette Davis, The Star
Julie Harris, The Member of the Wedding
Susan Hayward, With a Song in My Heart

Booth portrays Lola Delaney, a woman who masks her intense misery with the most cheerful of demeanors. She's in an increasingly passionless marriage to Doc (Burt Lancaster), who's resented Lola ever since she got pregnant and he dropped out of medical school, only for her to suffer a miscarriage. Not only has Lola never fully recovered, she's also anguished with grief over the recent loss of her beloved dog, Sheba. The entrance of young new tenant Marie (Terry Moore) and her dashing boy toy Turk (Richard Jaeckel) brings the couple's long-suppressed emotions bursting to the surface. This performance marked Booth's first and only Oscar nomination and win. 

From the moment Daniel Mann's film adaptation of William Inge's acclaimed play Come Back, Little Sheba was announced, Booth was the heavy favorite to triumph in Best Actress at the Oscars. She had, after all, scored the Tony for originating the role of Lola and, though a novice to the big screen, was a titan in New York acting circles.

By the big night, Booth was not the mere front-runner but a legit shoo-in for the win. Crawford wasn't about to score a second Best Actress prize for the titillating thriller Sudden Fear, while it was a miracle Davis somehow made the cut for the critically lambasted The Star. Like Booth, Harris was making her film debut, reprising a role she began on Broadway, but The Member of the Wedding did not enjoy the commercial or critical success of Come Back, Little Sheba. Hayward, on her third nomination, was likely runner-up, albeit not a terribly close second.

What makes Booth's triumph on the screen all the more remarkable is the lackluster nature of the proceedings around her. A master in theatre but rarely one who excelled on the screen, Mann, in his feature film debut, keeps the picture looking and feeling perpetually stagebound. In a way, such claustrophobia makes Lola's suffocating all the more palpable but otherwise, Come Back, Little Sheba just never much pops beyond Booth's harrowing turn.

Likewise, given the inferiority of her co-stars, Booth all the more towers over the picture. But this also means we're stuck watching a miscast Lancaster (nearly 20 years younger than Sidney Blackmer, who played the role on Broadway and also won the Tony) and the insufferable, somehow Oscar-nominated Moore. As for Jaeckel, he provides no shortage of eye candy but otherwise has the acting prowess of a brick wall.

Such qualms aside, Booth is magnificent in this film. Rarely has a middling picture been made such an absolute must-see by a single performance.

Lola is a tricky character to ace and Booth finds precisely the right way to bring her to life. This is the most despondent of people, ravaged by sorrow over the loss of her precious Sheba, her miscarriage and the disintegration of her marriage. Yet, Lola refuses to let any of this anguish show, instead covering up her agony with the most merry of manners. Her attitude is aggressively ebullient to the point of lunacy and she's desperate to form a connection with anyone who crosses her path and willing to pay her the attention Doc no longer awards her. Lola has managed to make herself entirely oblivious to the heartache eating away at her from the inside.

Where Booth no doubt filled the entire Booth Theatre during the Broadway run of Come Back, Little Sheba, she masterfully tailors her portrayal for the screen, conveying Lola's mania without resorting to bombastic histrionics. With the camera zoomed in on Booth's gloriously expressive face, we see in Lola all of the anxieties and suffering that she refuses to let others recognize from afar. She's the most heartbreaking of sights, a compassionate woman who was abandoned by her own family and is now consumed with fear that the one remaining love of her life (Doc) is en route to giving up on her too.

For a woman so lost in desolation, Booth's Lola is also full of vitality - just watch her dance in that beautiful scene with Doc in the living room. For a moment, an all too fleeting one at that, life is grand again, and there are glimmers of bliss like this scattered throughout the picture that serve as proof of the love Lola and Doc, deep down, still feel for each other. Even if Lancaster never seems quite right in this role, Booth's performance is more than affecting enough to make the Lola-Doc dynamic work.

Following her Oscar victory, Booth dabbled a bit more in film, perhaps most memorably as Dolly Gallagher Levi in The Matchmaker (which later, of course, became Hello, Dolly!), but otherwise found greater success back on Broadway, winning another Tony (this time for The Time of the Cuckoo, which later became Summertime for Katharine Hepburn on the big screen), and later in television, where she scored a pair of Emmys for her iconic turn as Hazel

Talk about one hell of a career but even so, nothing she did afterward came close to touching the brilliance on display in Come Back, Little Sheba. It's a legit master class in acting and, for my money, the greatest performance to ever take home the Best Actress Oscar.

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7. Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day (1993)

His competition...

Daniel Day-Lewis, In the Name of the Father
Laurence Fishburne, What's Love Got to Do with It?
Tom Hanks, Philadelphia (WINNER)
Liam Neeson, Schindler's List

Hopkins portrays James Stevens, a dedicated English butler who, in the years preceding World War II, serves the Nazi-sympathizing Lord Darlington (James Fox). Stevens' intense focus on the duties of his position is tested by the arrival of new housekeeper Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) who, while just as efficient as Stevens in tending to the household, exudes the compassion and humanity he has long repressed. Over time, Kenton develops feelings for the detached Stevens, who tragically cannot bring himself to reciprocate. This performance marked Hopkins' second Oscar nomination.

When Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day landed on book shelves over the summer of 1989 to widespread acclaim, a film adaptation was imminent.

Initially, however, it wasn't to be a Merchant Ivory production. Director Mike Nichols, then on a hot streak with lighter fare (Working Girl and Postcards from the Edge), and the much-celebrated playwright and screenwriter Harold Pinter were first attached. Nichols ultimately left the project as director, remaining on as producer, while Pinter, despite having finished the screenplay (some of which would be retained for the final product), completely disassociated himself from the production.

In came that divine trio of director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala - the pitch-perfect fit for this material - and the rest is history. The result, for my money at least, is the greatest of all Merchant Ivory productions, which also happens to sport a career-topping performance from the exquisite Hopkins.

A far cry from the mouthwatering camera mugging of The Silence of the Lambs, Hopkins in The Remains of the Day is among the most powerfully subdued portrayals to ever grace the screen. Never has there been a more devastating sight of emotional suppression than Stevens, the all-too-loyal butler who abandons his own father on his deathbed in the name of serving a buffoonish man who is decidedly on the wrong side of history (and Stevens knows it).

The introduction of Thompson's Miss Kenton turns Stevens' world upside down - not that he'd allow those around him, especially Kenton, to know of his feelings. The most startling scene in the picture comes when Kenton catches Stevens reading a romance novel in his office. Stevens claims he's merely reading it to improve his vocabulary, understandable given the onslaught of politicians and aristocrats visiting Darlington Hall but, looking at his face and those sad eyes, it's all too clear to us what's really going on in his head. 

About 20 years later, with Darlington dead in disgrace and Stevens now serving the kind U.S. Congressman Jack Lewis (Christopher Reeve), the butler seeks out his beloved Miss Kenton, who at this point in her life is a divorced woman, with a daughter. Stevens requests that she return to Darlington Hall with him - supposedly, to serve the Congressman but, in reality, we know he desperately longs for his old companion. Kenton declines, wishing to remain close to her daughter, and one final time they share that gut-wrenching moment where she is anything but unemotional and he, despite the passion so clearly burning within him, just cannot bring himself to express his affection back.

1993 marked a gangbusters year for Hopkins, who turned in not one but two Oscar-caliber leading performances, in this and in Shadowlands (both of his leading ladies, Thompson and Debra Winger, were nominated in Best Actress). Had he not just triumphed two years prior for The Silence of the Lambs, odds are he could have taken home the trophy as an honor for both of these tremendous turns. (When the critics' awards honored Hopkins, as most of them did this year, it was for both performances.)

Alas, despite his raves and the healthy eight nominations for The Remains of the Day, he was a bit of an underdog going into the big night. While Philadelphia itself didn't earn the critical notices of the Ivory picture, it was far more commercially successful (and sitting atop the box office as ballots came in) and Hanks' dramatic turn was lauded, especially coming on the heels of one frothy comedy after another. While hardly a shoo-in, Hanks was well-positioned to prevail, which indeed came to fruition.

Moving as Hanks is (I'm also awfully fond of Fishburne), Hopkins is for me the crystal clear winner here, a quiet tour de force, at the absolute top of his game. Watching this and The Silence of the Lambs (a delicious, if inferior performance) back-to-back would serve as an awe-inspiring testament to Hopkins as one of the finest, most multifaceted actors of the past half-century. 

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6. Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker (1964)

His competition...

Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Lee Marvin, Cat Ballou (WINNER)
Laurence Olivier, Othello
Oskar Werner, Ship of Fools

Steiger portrays Sol Nazerman, a morose and lonesome Jewish pawnbroker, haunted by his past. Though he survived Auschwitz, Sol witnessed his family's murder at the hands of the Nazis and ever since, has lost all faith in God and humanity. Consumed by horrifying daydreams and exclusively focused on making money, he refuses to let anyone get close to him, not even his enthusiastic assistant Jesus (Jaime Sanchez) or the friendly social worker Marilyn (Geraldine Fitzgerald). This performance marked Steiger's second Oscar nomination.

If Steiger and director Sidney Lumet were not already on the Hollywood A-list by 1964, their collaboration on The Pawnbroker firmly cemented that status. 

Both first burst onto the scene around the same time, in the mid-1950s. Steiger earned himself a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for On the Waterfront and graced several other successful pictures too, among them The Big Knife and Oklahoma! Also garnering some Oscar love around this time was Lumet, who received a Best Director nomination for 12 Angry Men and subsequently went on to earn additional positive notices for the likes of The Fugitive Kind and Long Day's Journey Into Night

Their paths had once crossed before, on the small scene, yet Lumet wasn't initially keen on Steiger for the anguished role of Sol Nazerman. The director wanted James Mason, hot as ever on the heels of Lolita. Mason never quite panned out, however, and, after additional discussions with the actor, Steiger, who was willing to take a significant pay cut for the role, was in. 

The result marked the first American production to focus on the Holocaust, from the viewpoint of a survivor. Reviews for Steiger were unanimously glowing, even from Pauline Kael, who gave The Pawnbroker one of its few (only?) negative notices. Over the years to follow, despite having later won his Oscar for In the Heat of the Night, Steiger would always cite The Pawnbroker as the strongest work of his storied career. 

And he was right - not only is his turn as Sol a more compelling performance than his other Oscar-nominated/winning efforts, it's one of the very best turns ever recognized by the Academy, in any category. It's a stunningly committed portrayal of the most tormented of figures, a man who may have physically survived the horrors of the Holocaust but has lost everything that meant anything to him, including his confidence in mankind. 

If the burying of feelings has Hopkins' Stevens of The Remains of the Day drowning in sadness deep down, it leaves Steiger's Sol consumed with bitterness, which he has no qualms about spreading around to those around him, even the friendliest of faces.

Fitzgerald's Marilyn, for instance, visits the pawn shop not for business but because she recognizes Sol's sorrow. By rejecting her outreach, he is alienating himself from the few people who see in him the benevolence that once existed (and is plenty on display, all too briefly, in the picture's opening scene). Alas, Sol is an irreparably broken man, no longer capable of such human connection. Steiger is made all the more glum in appearance by Boris Kaufman's evocative black and white photography. 

Inexplicably, despite the universal acclaim for his performance, Steiger was not triumphant at the Oscars, nor was the brilliant Burton (who, for what it's worth, clocked in at #111 on my Oscar 100 shortlist). Instead victorious was Marvin, doing a goofy dual role in Cat Ballou.

No doubt, two things helped Marvin - one, he was the sole comic performance of the quintet and two, he also had a prominent role in Best Picture nominee Ship of Fools. No disrespect to Marvin, who had no shortage of memorable turns on the big screen, but there's just no comparing his buffoonish work in Cat Ballou to the genius of Steiger in The Pawnbroker.

I guess we can at least take some solace in Olivier not winning?

The Oscar 100 (thus far)...

6. Rod Steiger, The Pawnbroker
7. Anthony Hopkins, The Remains of the Day
8. Shirley Booth, Come Back, Little Sheba
9. Gloria Swanson, Sunset Boulevard
10. Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
11. Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird
12. Ida Kaminska, The Shop on Main Street
13. Mary Tyler Moore, Ordinary People
14. Timothy Hutton, Ordinary People
15. Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator
16. Anne Bancroft, The Miracle Worker
17. Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker
18. Jessica Lange, Frances
19. Martin Landau, Crimes and Misdemeanors
20. Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs
21. Robert Forster, Jackie Brown
22. Katharine Hepburn, Summertime
23. Montgomery Clift, The Search
24. Orson Welles, Citizen Kane
25. Peter Sellers, Being There
26. Richard Burton, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
27. Elizabeth Taylor, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
28. Judy Garland, A Star Is Born
29. Edith Evans, The Whisperers
30. Al Pacino, The Godfather Part II
31. Angela Bassett, What's Love Got to Do with It
32. Joan Crawford, Mildred Pierce
33. Joanne Woodward, Rachel, Rachel
34. Katharine Hepburn, The Lion in Winter
35. Peter O'Toole, The Lion in Winter
36. Roy Scheider, All That Jazz
37. Ian McKellen, Gods and Monsters
38. Julianne Moore, Far from Heaven
39. Katharine Hepburn, Long Day's Journey Into Night
40. Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream
41. Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple
42. Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl
43. Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront
44. William Holden, Sunset Boulevard
45. Robert Duvall, The Great Santini
46. Anthony Hopkins, Nixon
47. Joan Allen, Nixon
48. Nick Nolte, Affliction
49. James Coburn, Affliction
50. Ingrid Bergman, Autumn Sonata
51. Meryl Streep, The Bridges of Madison County
52. Patricia Neal, Hud
53. Susan Tyrrell, Fat City
54. Teri Garr, Tootsie
55. Kim Stanley, Seance on a Wet Afternoon
56. Thelma Ritter, Pickup on South Street
57. Geraldine Page, Interiors
58. Dorothy Malone, Written on the Wind
59. Olivia de Havilland, The Heiress
60. Brenda Blethyn, Secrets & Lies
61. Faye Dunaway, Network
62. Jane Darwell, The Grapes of Wrath
63. Vivien Leigh, A Streetcar Named Desire
64. Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment
65. Angela Lansbury, The Manchurian Candidate
66. Natalie Portman, Jackie
67. Martin Landau, Ed Wood
68. Ellen Burstyn, The Last Picture Show
69. Cloris Leachman, The Last Picture Show
70. Jane Alexander, Testament
71. Jean Hagen, Singin' in the Rain
72. Barbara Stanwyck, Stella Dallas
73. Sissy Spacek, Carrie
74. Piper Laurie, Carrie
75. Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons
76. Elizabeth Taylor, Suddenly, Last Summer
77. Fredric March, The Best Years of Our Lives
78. Meryl Streep, Sophie's Choice
79. Bette Davis, All About Eve
80. Dustin Hoffman, Tootsie
81. Jason Miller, The Exorcist
82. Michael Caine, Hannah and Her Sisters
83. Judith Anderson, Rebecca
84. Michael O'Keefe, The Great Santini
85. Robert De Niro, The Deer Hunter
86. William Holden, Network
87. George Sanders, All About Eve
88. Jill Clayburgh, An Unmarried Woman
89. Sally Kirkland, Anna
90. Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption
91. Maureen Stapleton, Interiors
92. Glenn Close, Dangerous Liaisons
93. John Hurt, The Elephant Man
94. James Stewart, It's a Wonderful Life
95. Gary Busey, The Buddy Holly Story
96. Kathy Bates, Primary Colors
97. Lesley Ann Warren, Victor/Victoria
98. Rosie Perez, Fearless
99. Shelley Winters, A Place in the Sun
100. Kathleen Turner, Peggy Sue Got Married

Next week - the Oscar 100 reaches its bittersweet end with the best of the best, the five greatest performances ever recognized by the Academy. They may be a quintet of losers but they're all clear winners in my book. I've got two pairs of Best Actor and Best Actress nominees, plus the finest turn to grace Best Supporting Actress. Who do you think will tower over the field?