With the 83rd Annual Academy Awards just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to examine two of their most unusual nominations of all time. Last year, a lot of people made a big deal over the fact that Sandra Bullock took home a “Best Actress” Oscar for The Blind Side while also winning a “Worst Actress” Razzie for All About Steve. However, that really doesn’t seem all that absurd when you consider that two actors hold the dubious distinction of garnering an Oscar and a Razzie nomination for THE SAME PERFORMANCE! The two recipients of this unusual honour were James Coco in 1981 for Only When I Laugh and Amy Irving in 1983 for Yentl. Now, I have never seen either of those films, so I personally can’t comment on whether or not those two performances were more deserving of an Oscar or a Razzie nomination. However, I will do my absolute best to try and figure out the logic behind those decisions. Only When I Laugh was a film directed by Neil Simon based on his own Broadway play, revolving around an alcoholic Broadway actress’ tumultous personal life. James Coco played the now-cliched supporting role of her depressed gay actor best friend. Now, there’s an old joke in Hollywood that if you have the word “gay” before a juicy role, then your chances of garnering an Oscar nomination are greatly increased. However, fully fleshed-out gay characters were definitely not as common in Hollywood films back in 1981, so I’m sure Coco’s performance seemed a lot more fresh and daring at the time. On the other hand, watching this clip today, the character does seem like a pretty flamboyant, over-the-top gay stereotype. Was that the reason this peformance earned a Razzie nomination or was it just plain homophobia? Judge for yourself.
The reason behind the second nominated performance may have just been simple politics. Yentl was a very famous Broadway show about a young Jewish girl who decides to disguise herself as a man in order to receive an education at an all-male Jewish religious school. The musical film adaptation was directed, co-written, co-produced and starred Barbara Streisand. Yes, at age 41, she actually played a young girl who tried to pass herself off as a man! Amy Irving played the young woman who was fooled by the disguise and wound up falling in love with Streisand’s character. Yentl has been described as the ultimate star vehicle. If you’re a big Barbara Streisand fan, you’ll absolutely love this film. If you can’t stand her, you’ll probably want to claw your eyes out while watching it. I’m guessing that the people who selected the Razzie nominations that year fell into the latter camp, as Streisand also earned herself a “Worst Actress” Razzie nomination. However, those who saw the film have mostly been baffled by Amy Irving’s nominations. They say her performance is just kind of there and while it probably didn’t deserve an Oscar nomination, it was nowhere near bad enough to deserve a Razzie nomination either. She may have simply been an innocent victim in the Razzies’ campaign against Miss Streisand. I mean, no matter how talented they are, I’m not sure ANY actress in the world could believably convey the idea that they’ve fallen in love with a man who looks like Barbara Streisand!