Everyone loves a comeback, and Hollywood is no different. Although Jodie Foster had worked steadily since her first Oscar nomination, at 14 for 1976’s Taxi Driver, by the time she starred in 1988’s The Accused, her career had become a string of roles in which reviewers often lamented how good she was with how little she was given. But as a gang rape victim who fights with an assistant D.A. (Kelly McGillis) to prosecute the men who egged her rapists on, Foster finally had a role that was equal to her talents, and she delivered a performance that lived up to her potential. Academy voters rewarded her with her first Oscar for Best Actress.
It wasn’t necessarily an obvious victory. Fellow nominees Glenn Close (Dangerous Liasons) and Sigourney Weaver (Gorillas in the Mist) had also more than paid their dues, so to speak, and each had given standout performances — though as two very different women. Five-time nominee Close just about devours the screen as a conniving French aristocrat, while Weaver settles into a comfortable naturalism as the real-life zoologist Dian Fossey. It was a strong year for Weaver, in fact; she was also nominated for her supporting role in Working Girl alongside fellow Best Actress nominee Melanie Griffith, who turned in a Golden Globe-winning, love-it-or-hate-it performance as a striving secretary who connives her way into Weaver’s corner office. (The "hate it" contingent generally found Griffiths’ breathy, Marilyn Monroe-esque voice like nails on a chalkboard.) Ironically, the only Best Actress nominee pretty much guaranteed not to beat out Foster for the prize was Meryl Streep. Though fearlessly unlikable in A Cry in the Dark as the real life Australian mother accused of murdering the baby she steadfastly claimed was abducted by a wild dingo, Streep had also become something of an Oscar perennial in the 1980s: This was her sixth nomination in eight years.
But after 20 years, all that context — Is it "her time"? Did she recently win? Do we expect to nominate her again? — has melted away, and just the performances themselves remain. Does Foster still deserve her Academy Award? That’s what we’ve asked Hollywood in EW’s Recall the Gold survey revisiting all the major Oscar categories from 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 years ago, and that’s also what we’ve been asking you, PopWatchers, over the last few months. So vote in our poll below. If you need a reminder of each performance, check out clips from each film after the jump. While you’re at it, if you haven’t already, vote in all the other polls from our ongoing walk down Oscar’s memory lane. Tomorrow, in the final category (!) of our 13 week survey (!!!), we’ll examine the 2003 Best Supporting Actor race, and you can check out coverage of this year’s awards contenders in Dave Karger’s Oscar Watch blog.
Glenn Close, Dangerous Liaisons
Jodie Foster, The Accused (trailer)
Melanie Griffith, Working Girl
Meryl Streep, A Cry in the Dark
Sigourney Weaver, Gorillas in the Mist