Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
A thin, naturally attractive brunette with a personable smile and the brains to match her beauty, actress Jennifer Beals was virtually propelled to overnight stardom and fashion icon status with her energetic performance in director Adrian Lyne's 1983 dance drama Flashdance. Though her career would suffer a slight setback when it was revealed that Beals didn't perform all of her own dance moves in the sleeper hit, the talented actress would endure to make something of a comeback in the late '90s.
A Chicago native who was traveling in Europe when her publicist called her for a New York audition that the filmmakers were pitching as a "female Saturday Night Fever," Beals booked the first flight back to the states and, despite the presence of thousands of other eager young actresses, somehow managed to stand out from the crowd to impress producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. Beals' only other film work to that point was as an extra in 1980's My Bodyguard, so it was quite a gamble to cast a virtual unknown in the lead. This was especially true, given that, days before the film's premiere, Paramount Pictures sold off 25 percent of the film; however, the gamble paid off and Flashdance became nothing less than a cultural phenomenon. With ripped, oversized sweaters adorning teenage girls nationwide, it seemed as if Beals had the cinematic world at her fingertips -- and then the bottom dropped out. When it was later revealed that Beals impressive moves weren't entirely her own, audiences felt betrayed (as if action stars really do all of their own stunts) and subsequently protested the burgeoning actress without taking into consideration that she was the dramatic core of the film.