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25. Sally Field, "Norma Rae"
Category: Best Actress
Strongest Competition: Bette Midler, "The Rose"
Why: Field had shown her true talents with an Emmy Award-winning turn in the television mini-series "Sybill" just three years before, but "Norma Rae" was showed a different side of the former TV queen. There was a gritty ferociousness to her work here that hadn't been seen before. This wasn't a Hollywood actress just dirtying herself up as a poor Southern textile worker. No, Field transformed into "Norma Rae" and created an impressive arc for a character doing everything she could to just survive. Other actresses have played similar roles since (Julia Roberts won an Oscar for one with "Erin Brockovich"), but they all owe a debt to Field's work as Norma Rae Webster.
- Gregory Ellwood