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33 Days: From Lovestruck to Moonstruck

January 26, 2011

Cher in Silkwood

In 1983 Cher was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Silkwood in a race pitting her against the likes of Alfre Woodard, Glenn Close, Amy Irving and eventual winner Linda Hunt. Of the five performances nominated that year, I think Cher’s was the best and most deserving of a win. Linda Hunt’s performance in The Year of Living Dangerously was certainly deserving, but like the rest of the noms it was super craft-y and none of the other nominations had to hold their own against Meryl Streep!

As an aside: I don’t think Close’s performance in The Big Chill was the best female performance of that particular ensemble, though it was certainly quite good. No, the better nomination would have been Meg Tilly, who like Cher in Silkwood, gives a nuanced, thoughtful and restrained performance that competes for air in a cacophony of accomplished thespians acting as hard as they can. And unlike Jo Beth Williams who seems resigned to her duties as the character tasked with setting up everyone else’s jokes, Tilly is radiantly defiant.

Cher’s quiet, earnest performance as Dolly Pelliker the roommate whose sapphic love for Meryl’s Karen Silkwood goes hopelessly unrequited is infused with such tenderness, warmth and humility it’s hard to believe this was the same woman who marinated herself in bedazzling and strutted on stage singing, “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”. There’s a rumor that audiences and even some mean spirited critics laughed when they saw Cher’s name in the opening credits. I suspect they weren’t laughing when the end credits. Neither were producers who began casting her in anything in production. Oh yeah and Cher got the last laugh.

Four years later she nabbed the Best Actress Oscar beating out – wait for it – Meryl Streep, whom she thanked in her speech.

Um, hi Paul!!!!

(Thank you, Meryl for being so prolific. This entire entry hinged on the prayer that you had been nominated the year Cher won!)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2011 10:54 am

    I think the Academy is finally becoming a bit more even-handed with its nomination and selection process for winners after all these years, which may be a bad thing for Annette Bening….

    Really, I think if we created a pie chart showing the formula for why people win leading actor Oscars, “acting” likely isn’t even fifty percent! If so, Meryl would have been nominated for everything she ever did and would have won every nomination! Role selection plays a part, because Meryl, in the case of Cher’s win, was in a truly thankless and difficult film. “Ironweed” which on paper probably looked like genius played out as overdone and overlong. Glenn Close? Well nobody was going to reward her with an Oscar for “Fatal Attraction!” And Holly Hunter as the Napoleonic TV producer in “Broadcast News” was likely considered nearly as threatening as Close to Academy voters! Oh and that poor deer in the headlights Sally Kirkland. Her nom was the pat on her head.

    Cher deserved that Oscar, and the fact that she was a previous nominee undoubtedly came into play.

  2. January 28, 2011 1:20 pm

    I get a lot of shit for it, but Moonstruck is one of my very favorite movies. When I think of actors/actresses I really enjoy, Cher is at the top of the list. She is natural, and engaging, and well… she has soul. I wish she acted more.

    *I have NOT seen Burlesque.

  3. January 28, 2011 4:24 pm

    I agree, Poplife. She’s got a natural presence and she isn’t so actory. I noticed this in Suspect – another film with lots of “acting” and The Witches of Eastwick, where Cher actually stole all the scenes by not trying to steal scenes.

  4. February 1, 2011 5:18 am

    In other news, now we know why Sally Kirkland keeps showing up to the Oscars.

  5. June 18, 2012 4:53 am

    I’ve heard great things about Cher in Silkwood, and from looking at the picture of her in it, it seems that she really embidies the character. I will try and watch Silkwood when I get the chace.

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