It worked for Travolta with “Pulp Fiction” in 1994, and Quentin resurrected Pam Grier with his “Jackie Brown” three years later. He got faded star Robert Forster an Oscar nomination in 1997, and he’s now won two Academy Awards for the once obscure Christoph Waltz–and turned him into a big star. Tarantino has a way with rising performers from the “dead”. Can he do the same this year with 53-year-old Jennifer Jason Leigh, in the upcoming “The Hateful Eight”? My heart is aflutter with the possibilities, but at this point, it’s just a game of wait-and-see. But I can dream, can’t I?
How is it possible that JJL has NEVER gotten an Oscar nomination. It’s ridiculous at best and shameful at worst! But it’s true. Most in my demographic first fell in love with Jennifer way back in 1982, as the virginal Stacy in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”. That could’ve been nomination #1, and you could make easy justification for it. Some said her role of Carol in 1988’s “Heart of Midnight” deserved more recognition too. And it seems kind of ludicrous now, that the twofer of “Last Exit to Brooklyn” and “Miami Blues” saw Leigh come up empty with Oscar, especially after garnering recognition from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society for that tandem. How ’bout for psycho Hedra Carlson in 1992’s “Single White Female”? Or her Rosalind Russell-esque Amy Archer in the Coens’ “The Hudsucker Proxy” from 1994? That was the same year of her TREMENDOUS performance as Dorothy Parker in Alan Rudolph’s “Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle”…the one I consider the scene of the most outrageous crime. Ms. Leigh actually won the National Society of Film Critics Best Actress Award for that, as well as prizes from the Chicago Film Critics Association, and nominations from the Golden Globes and the Independent Spirits. A criminal omission. 1995’s “Georgia”, as Sadie Flood, was almost as egregious–especially when considering co-star Mare Winningham got Best Supporting Actress support from the Academy. Crazy.
There’s more. Selena St. George in 1995’s “Dolores Claiborne”. Blondie O’Hara in 1996’s “Kansas City”. Catherine Sloper in 1997’s “Washington Square”. And more recently for work in 2007’s “Margot at the Wedding” and 2010’s “Greenberg”, from now ex-husband, Noah Baumbach. You know what? I’m crying sexism on this front, because if a man had consistently showed the range, dedication and consistency of a JJL, he would’ve been showered with Oscar attention by now, But not our diminutive Ms. Leigh. I’ve long adored her, and her work–and I’m hoping QT can finally bring her justice.