Never Even Nominated: Myrna Loy
Award season has begun, which means it’s that time of year, again — the time when the below meme makes its way across the far reaches of the Internet.
Leonardo DiCaprio every Oscar night.
Yes. Every year film fanatics around the world ponder: Will Leo finally get his Oscar? Or will he be snubbed once again? For all his work, effort, and talent, surely this man should have won SOMETHING by now? That’s how awards work, right? Well, not really. Oscar snubs for talented artists have existed since the creation of the award. And in my opinion there is no bigger snub than that of Myrna Loy.
Although there have been many notable snubs in the past, no one has been snubbed quite like Myrna. You see, for all her tremendous work, for all her wonderful performances, and for all her popularity, Loy was never nominated for an Academy Award. Not a single one. When I discovered this little factoid, I was in shock. I thought for sure the woman who created a character as memorable and iconic as Nora Charles would have received some formal recognition for it.
What drew to me Loy’s performances was how natural they seemed. Loy floated with such grace and poise across the screen, it was as if she wasn’t even trying; she was just BEING. When I learned that she had no formal training in the theatre, it all made sense to me. Learning to convey on a film-set rather than a theatrical stage, Loy understood how the subtlest of movements and gestures would be captured by the camera. While the theatre used broad strokes and big gestures to create dynamic performances, those same gestures could look forced and unrealistic on the screen. When Loy was on-screen, nothing seemed forced; nothing seemed ‘big’ because it wasn’t. It didn’t need to be, and Loy understood that. And no other film demonstrated this more than William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives.
Of all Loy’s great and naturalistic performances, The Best Years of Our Lives is by far the best. In the film Loy plays her signature role: America’s perfect wife. Specifically, she plays Milly Stephenson, the wife of returning WWII veteran Al Stephenson (Fredric March). And, although once again playing ‘the perfect wife,’ there is an added depth to her character; an added uncertainty that was missing in her previous roles. Although tremendously happy and relieved to see that her husband has returned from war safe and intact, Milly also understands that the war has had an effect on him. The scene that best demonstrates this is when she is putting her now happily inebriated husband to bed. She lays him down…she stares at him with a mixture of relief, happiness and melancholy. And then there’s her body language — both at once eager to touch him, hold him…but also hesitant to do so. The man has just returned from war. How does this change their interaction, their relationship — and how has this changed him? The fact that Loy wasn’t even nominated for this touching, poignant and truthful performance is certainly one of the Oscars’ biggest snubs.
Of course there are many excuses as to why she wasn’t nominated. In 1946, Loy was an extremely popular actress but the role she played in the film was a supporting one. So essentially she was too popular for “Supporting Actress,” but her role wasn’t large enough to even be remotely be called “Leading.” Loy’s performance was stuck in a weird political limbo and, as a result, she wasn’t even nominated. She did, however, eventually receive an Honorary Oscar in 1991 ‘in recognition of her extraordinary qualities both on screen and off, with appreciation for a lifetime’s worth of indelible performances.’ She accepted her Oscar from her New York City apartment, with a short, humble, but truthful statement — “You have made me very happy. Thank you very much.”
A big Thank You to Kellee (@IrishJayhawk66) of Outspoken & Freckled, Paula (@Paula_Guthat) of Paula’s Cinema Club and Aurora (@CitizenScreen) of Once Upon a Screen for hosting this fun 31 Days of Oscar event! There are so many more wonderful Classic Bloggers participating in this event so please be sure to check out the other entries.
–Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub