It’s too bad the Academy could give out only one Best Actress Oscar for 1993, since there were several landmark performances that year. Angela Bassett pulled out all the stops, physically and emotionally, for her starmaking portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It. Terms of Endearment’s Debra Winger had to die with dignity again as Joy Gresham, wife of Narnia author C.S. Lewis, in Shadowlands. Stockard Channing reprised her Broadway role as a deceived socialite in Six Degrees of Separation and again served as the story’s wounded, emotional core. Emma Thompson was impeccable as the housemaid who tries to shatter the stoicism of butler Anthony Hopkins in the Merchant/Ivory literary adaptation The Remains of the Day; in fact, she might well have won, had she not earned the Oscar the year before for another role opposite Hopkins in a similar Merchant/Ivory period piece, Howards End. Plus, Thompson may have siphoned votes away from her Remains nomination by earning a nod the same year for Best Supporting Actress for In the Name of the Father.
The front-runner, however, from the moment of her film’s release, was Holly Hunter in The Piano. (This even though Hunter was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress that year, in The Firm.) Her performance (pictured) in Jane Campion’s otherworldly romance required her to play the piano like a pro (or at least appear to do so), bare herself physically and emotionally, and express a whole spectrum of feelings without uttering a word onscreen. She may have won the award on sheer technique, but any of these five would have been a justifiable winner.
Looking back from today’s perspective, which of these performances doyou think is the best? Vote in our poll, and list your comments below.(For a refresher, watch the clips embedded after the jump, whichmay contain some NSFW language.) Remember, we’ll be running the Recall the Gold surveys every Tuesdayand Thursday until January, so you may go back at any time and vote inthe other polls (click hereto see them all), reexamining the Oscar races of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25years ago. On Tuesday, Nov. 4, we’ll look at the 1993 Best Supporting Actorcompetition. Watch also for commentary and context throughout EW.com,including on Dave Karger’s new Oscar Watch blog.
Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got to Do with It
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Stockard Channing in Six Degrees of Separation
Holly Hunter in The Piano
Emma Thompson in The Remains of the Day
Debra Winger in Shadowlands