2017 Ingmar Bergman Lifetime Achievement Awards (2 of 2): Jessica Lange

The delay in posting any and all of these honorary awards has been due in large part to wrapping a long first draft of a piece of fiction and the fact that a record keeping mistake almost led me to pick the same Lifetime Achievement recipient as last year. Not that John Williams hasn’t done enough for multiple lifetimes but let’s spread the wealth.


As such I will post at least one honoree a day to balance this blog with my other works. 

As I deliberated picking people who aren’t exceptionally old as other awards do, I wasn’t inspired by many of my options until I looked at the history of my own awards and how in recent years I had seen the reemergence of some of my favorites into the nominated list. So, that seemed like the perfect reason to celebrate all of their works as I also like to select people who are still making an impact.

Without further adieu the honoree…

Jessica Lange

First some stats…

6 total nominations; 3 wins
Won as Lead Actress and Supporting Actress (One of three)
Nominated four straight years (19972000)

Best Actress nominee in 1997 (A Thousand Acres)
Best Actress nominee in 1998 (Hush)
Best Actress winner in 1999 (Cousin Bette)
Best Actress winner in 2000 (Titus)
Best Cast nominee in 2000 (Titus)
Best Supporting Actress winner in 2014 (In Secret)

In the early days of these awards when I was prone to revisionism and trying to create credible nominees from 1981. I was compelled to go back and watch as many things as I could by my favorite directors and actors. Jessica Lange was among these actresses.

Titus (1999, Fox Searchlight)

Even scrapping those provisional, untrue awards she made more than enough of a mark. Her nominations as Best Actress in four consecutive years was a feat I didn’t notice until I started composing this piece (I like to compose these award without being conscious of things like how many nominations a film is racking up or if so-and-so made it in the year before).

I believe I first knew of Jessica Lange when in a high school cinema class we screened the 1976 King Kong. That allowed me then to seek out and watch many of her films in approximate chronological order. Eventually she became an actress I made a point of going out to the movies to see.

In Secret (2014, Roadside Attractions)

Like many other admirers, I was thrilled when American Horror Story acted as a renaissance for her career. When In Secret was released I rushed out to see it, and I thought for a Zola novel I did not know much about it portrayed a story of that vintage in as modern a way as possible without reinventing it, and Lange stole the entire film, and she was not only nominated again but won her third BAM Award.

In 2015 it was time for her to move on from AHS, but recently she made another tour-de-force appearance on a television series Feud: Bette and Joan, which bears mentioning here as she played Joan Crawford and was dealing with the struggle of being a woman of a certain age in Hollywood, and contrary to her trajectory playing an actress whose talents were never fully appreciated. That role showed that she by no means is done, as I prefer these honorees to be.