Anna (1987): Witty, Cynical Tale of Aging Actress Starring Sally Kirkland

Perhaps only a foreign screenwriter and a foreign director could have made the witty and cynical “Anna,” a movie about an expatriate Czech actress in New York, struggling with her progressive age, ruthless competition, sheer survival and other problems inherent in showbiz.

This low-budget indie was co-penned by Agnieszka Holland, before embarking on a solo-directing career, and helmed by fellow Polish filmmaker Yurek Bogayevicz, who also contributed to the scenario.

While helping a younger, more beautiful actress from her country (model Paulina Porizkova), she begins to realize that the latter would achieve the success that had eluded her. Laced with humor and some pathos, the narrative bears slight thematic resemblance to the 1950 Oscar-winning “All About Eve,” in its juxtaposition of two ambitious femmes, divided by age. But Anna goes beyond an inside showbiz saga in dealing with the issues of trust and friendship, as manifest in both the personal and public arenas.

Oscar Context:

After decades in the business playing small roles, mostly in B-pictures, Sally Kirkland landed a lead role, immersing herself completely in the part. Her extensive Oscar campaign, with Hollywood’s top publicists, proved effective, in a year of a competitive Best Actress race. The other nominees were Cher, who won, for the comedy “Moonstruck,” Glenn Close for “Fatal Attraction,” Holly Hunter for “Broadcast News,” and Meryl Streep for “A Cry in the Dark,” her eighth nomination in a decade.

For this part, Kirkland won the Golden Globe (drama), the Independent Spirit Award, and the L.A. Film Critics Association Best Actress kudo.