This my take on the Best Actress category 1961 (quite random I know!)
I'm going to do as Andrew did over Encore's World of Film & TV blog (which you could visit if you look at my favourite blogs :). He did semi-finalist and finalist list, which I thought was a very good idea :)
Audrey Hepburn - Breakfast at Tiffany's
I know this is probably one of the most well known performances of Hepburn, but it wasn't really the WOW factor I thought it would be. She looks beautiful and does her job well. She is marvellous in some scenes, but more less than often. Also we can say she was miscast. BUT this is though one of the most iconic performances of 1961 and the moment she sings "Moon River" is pure magic.
Audrey Hepburn - The Children's Hours
While "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was a miscasting, this was the complete opposite. Hepburn is used to do this kind of role as the sweet woman. While it was a beautiful performance, it turned out quite boring.
Shirley MacLaine - The Children's Hours
MacLaine makes surprisingly little with this juicy role, even if she's better than Hepburn we all know she could do LOT more. Also one thing regarding this movie is that the supporting players stole this show.
Sophia Loren - Two Women
One of these performances where the actress gives up everything and just makes the role come alive. Loren is marvelous!
Clauda McNeill - A Raisin' in the Sun
This is a wonderful and splendid performance by McNeill as the mother. She lights up the screen every minute on screen.
Natalie Wood - Splendor in the Grass
Many people calls this performance dull and uninspired, but I disagree. Wood was charming and heartbreaking here. This really showed how good an actress Wood was. I can't decide Loren and Wood who was the best of the nominees, but Wood gets the title right now.
Anouke Aimée - Lola
She gives the most sensual performance this year, but also the most joyful. She's really on par with the original Lola.
Harriet Andersson - Through a Glass Darkly
The scene when she's sleepwalking is just breathtaking! Harriet truly gives the character a great performance.
Deborah Kerr - The Innocents
This is a career defining role for Kerr. She's never been better. Her performance is a haunting one, and you sure notice the similarity between her role and the great Nicole Kidman in "The Others", but Kerr was better.
Delphine Seyrig - Last Year at Marienbad
Her performance is maybe not as flashy as everyone else, but she works it out great and you notice her in a moment!
Lucyna Winnicka - Mother Joan of the Angels
WOW! This is what I call a performance. She gives the role a three-dimensonial performance, Wonderful I only say!
and the winner is...