Amy Ryan
November 20, 2008 AT 12:00 PM EST

The 1988 Best Supporting Actress Oscar race was one of those “Huh?” contests. It was hard to pick out a clear favorite before the race, and the award could have arbitrarily gone to anyone besides Geena Davis. Davis became an A-List serious thespian with her role as a kooky dog trainer in The Accidental Tourist, but the character (a wacky free spirit who helps a dour, work-obsessed, stuffy guy loosen up and embrace life) seemed a stale ’60s cliché, and the movie still plays today like it’s as starchy as its protagonist.

Then again, who was more deserving? Joan Cusack made the most of her best-friend character in Working Girl, but it was a slight role, and she was competing against costar Sigourney Weaver in the same category. Weaver, in turn, was competing against herself, with her serious, Best Actress-nominated role in Gorillas in the Mist probably siphoning votes away from her comic Working Girl supporting character. First-time nominee Frances McDormand of Mississippi Burning, playing a woman who decides to do the right thing and pays dearly for it, managed to create a fully rounded character, but she had little screen time, and the Academy probably saw her as a young talent who’d surely be nominated again. (Eight years later, she’d win Best Actress for Fargo.) That leaves Michelle Pfeiffer, who gave the most purely dramatic performance as the put-upon prey of John Malkovich and Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons. Had I been an Academy member, I’d have voted for her.

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. 25, we’ll look at the 1993 Best Actorcompetition. Watch also for commentary and context throughout,including on Dave Karger’s Oscar Watch blog.



Joan Cusack in Working Girl

Geena Davis in The Accidental Tourist

Frances McDormand in Mississippi Burning

Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Liaisons

Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl

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