Annette Bening's irresistibly amoral vixen in "The Grifters," going-slowly-mad housewife in "American Beauty," narcissistic London stage star in "Being Julia" and her portrayal of Deirdre Burroughs' "bipolar, borderline psychotic, bisexual," in the words of director Ryan Murphy, are the highlights of a successful skein of a career.
It's a measure of the respect accorded Bening (who was nominated for a best actress Oscar in 1991, 2000 and 2005 for, respectively, "Grifters," "American Beauty" and "Julia") that she chalked up a Golden Globe nomination for her "Running With Scissors" performance despite the film's generally anemic reviews.
After studying at San Francisco State, the San Diego-raised Bening served her apprenticeship onstage (mostly with San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater, but also with a Denver company).
She met and fell in love with her husband, Warren Beatty — who had long been one of Hollywood's most unattainable bachelors — on the set of "Bugsy" (1991). They have four children.
Dubbed "the thinking man's sex symbol," Bening brings to mind such Golden Age actresses as Bette Davis, Claudette Colbert and Barbara Stanwyck—sassy, ready-for-anything heroines a half-step ahead of their man. As a foil to Denzel Washington's sober FBI agent Anthony Hubbard in "The Siege" ("You know, Hubb . . . may I call you Hubb?") or to Beatty's Bugsy Siegel ("We traveled 5 1/2 hours to get to this . . . canker sore?"), the actress radiates spunk.
Off-camera, though, the comparisons stop. "With the possible exception of Irene Dunne, who was married to a dentist, it's hard to think of a great female star of the classic era with a happily married family life," says film historian Richard Schickel. "The choice was much cleaner then: essentially either/or."
|1990||Best Supporting Actress||The Grifters||Nomination|
|1999||Best Actress||American Beauty||Nomination|
|2004||Best Actress||Being Julia||Nomination|
|2010||Best Actress||The Kids Are Alright||Nomination|