Friday, September 30, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1992


And the Academy selected:
  • Judy Davis in Husbands and Wives
  • Joan Plowright in Enchanted April
  • Vanessa Redgrave in Howard's End
  • Miranda Richardson in Damage
  • Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny

My Ranking:

5. Judy Davis as Sally in Husbands and Wives

Woody Allen doesn't always tickle my fancy (actually he more or less becomes unimpressive for me) and Husbands and Wives is surely a lowpoint, only praised for Judy Davis' performance as Sally, a new divorcee who likes to be annoying, or something to that effect. Maybe it's just the fact that all the overacting, all the ridiculous screaming, and all the bitter, unrealistic dialogue becomes too much as soon as it begins. An uninteresting, bombastic performance.

4. Vanessa Redgrave as Ruth Wilcox in Howard's End

Like Woody Allen, period pieces for me are usually just uninteresting. Of course, everyone could jump on that and say I have no taste in films, but I know I don't :) Vanessa Redgrave is usually also praised this year for her brief, yet somehow important performance as aristocrat Ruth Wilcox. She doesn't make a huge impact on me, playing subtlety as high as she can, but somehow I do sort of get the praise for it. Still, a very dry characterization.

3. Joan Plowright as Mrs. Fisher in Enchanted April

Joan Plowright had some kind of comeback with the role of cranky, bitter Mrs. Fisher in Enchanted April and her performance is quite charming. It's a performance full of opportunities to steal everyone elses spotlight and she sure succeeds with that. Another period piece, but somehow this one feels totally different thanks to the nice little performance from Plowright and Miranda Richardson. It's not amazing, but a good performance nonetheless.

2. Miranda Richardson as Ingrid Fleming in Damage

Playing a role similar to Anne Archer in Fatal Attraction, Miranda Richardson plays Ingrid, the adoring and unknowing wife in Damage. Ingrid is quite more naive then Beth Gallagher because when she finds out she has a massive emotional breakdown that leaves her quite delusional and broken. It's a superb performance that starts out a little unusually but ends on the exact right tone.

1. Marisa Tomei as Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny

Perhaps the most infamous win ever has no shame in being infamous. Marisa Tomei is riotous, touching, and brilliantly funny as Lisa, the auto expert and funny girlfriend of Vinny. Comedy can be hard to pull off, but Tomei has no problems pulling off unexpected moments of flat out loud hilarity and is often unappreciated for her way of making all of this 100% believable. It is a terrific, great piece of enjoyable work.

Honorable Omissions: Alfre Woodard in "Passion Fish" and Miranda Richardson in "The Crying Game".

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1960


And the Academy selected:
  • Glynis Johns in The Sundowners
  • Shirley Jones in Elmer Gantry
  • Shirley Knight in The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs
  • Janet Leigh in Psycho
  • Mary Ure in Sons and Lovers

My Ranking:

5. Shirley Knight as Reenie Flood in The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs

Shirley Knight has a pivotal role in this film as the daughter Reenie who is seemingly depressed until she falls for a Jewish boy. Knight looks a little too old for the part, but she mostly handles the part well. There's a large amount of sentimentality that lays within the story and Knight, unbelievably, brings out all of it. She's too darn sweet for her own good, but her performance is still not bad, she has a few moments where she totally controls the screen.

4. Glynis Johns as Mrs. Firth in The Sundowners

She's such an enjoyable actress, that she makes the most out of the role of innkeeper Mrs. Firth. She's basically in The Sundowners to be comic relief, but there is alot of wit to be found in her characterization. In fact, I think her performance totally stands away from the boring movie that holds it and she handles her own no matter what situation they want to throw Mrs. Firth into. Oh and her Australian accent is better then everyone elses.

3. Janet Leigh as Marion Crane in Psycho

Doing great subtle work, Janet Leigh gives a good, important little performance in Psycho. Personally, she's my favorite part about the film because when she is killed, the whole next storyline just doesn't do too much for me. Sure the performance means alot and she's possibly the best part for me, but that doesn't mean she totally blows me away. It's a good performance and entertaining, but not an amazing one of any kind.

2. Shirley Jones as Lulu Baines in Elmer Gantry

Shirley Jones was obviously stunt-casted as prostitute Lulu Baines, but it was all worthwhile and gives a terrific performance. To play such a scheming and entertaining character can be very hard to work out in my book, but Jones plays it in a way I can't think of it being any other way. She is entertaining, brilliant in her depiction of revenge, and gives one beautifully constructed performance.

1. Mary Ure as Clara Dawes in Sons and Lovers

I used to always go with Shirley Jones when it came to this year, but watching Sons and Lovers again, Mary Ure becomes better and better as time goes by. Her Clara is separated, sexually awakened, and a suffragette who has an affair with one of the title sons. She gives a magnificent performance, better then whatever expectations I expected from her - D.H. Lawrence's women are usually great characters to be explored and she is no exception. An amazing performance.

Honorable Omissions: None.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 2008

And the Academy selected:
  • Amy Adams in Doubt
  • Penelope Cruz in Vicky Christina Barcelona
  • Viola Davis in Doubt
  • Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
  • Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler

My Ranking:

5. Taraji P. Henson as Queenie in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

Benjamin Button lasts way too long with it's Forrest Gump message, but Henson may be one of the biggest problems. She does everything the role asks of her, but she exaggerates everything terribly. There's also the blandness that follows her throughout the film combined with her overall badness, the performance is truly all over the place. Boring and bad is not a bad combination.

4. Penelope Cruz as Maria Elena in Vicky Christina Barcelona

Talk about obvious acting, everything about Penelope Cruz in this movie screams bad. It's not just because I can't stand her, it's because the tight, little pretentious role of Maria Elena is hardly an accomplishment of anything (maybe of cliches) and Cruz does nothing at all for me to elevate the character. She constantly screams in Spanish and English and evidently that's Oscar worthy, but she does nothing else to earn anything.

3. Marisa Tomei as Cassidy/Pam in The Wrestler

Marisa Tomei swoops into The Wrestler, ready to be a bad cliche, but working with Rourke and Arranofsky surely gave her alot of advantages and ended up turning in a terrific performance. Pam is the older woman trapped by her lifestyle and ready to leave and Tomei turns her vulnerability into a fabulous, stunning performance. Everytime she is on-screen, the movie becomes a little bit better because of her.

2. Viola Davis as Mrs. Miller in Doubt

It's the perfect example of an actress getting recognized for one scene that changes and betters her film. Viola Davis plays the worried, but strange minded mother Mrs. Miller who butts heads with Meryl over her son. She injects the right amount of down to earth sensibility that makes perfect sense for the character and of course her big scene is worth the nomination alone. An amazing performance in such a small role.

1. Amy Adams as Sister James in Doubt

Even though I thought long and hard between the two, Amy Adams still does so much with her character that it is hard to ignore. Sister James is the kind, on-looker of the story and herself is doubtful on where to turn between the situation. It could have been done in so many wrong ways, but she undeniably turns it into the best thing possible. Tricky in many ways, but she is able to turn this character into an exhilarating, evocative creation.

Honorable Omissions: Judith Light in "Save Me".

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1986


And the Academy selected:
  • Tess Harper in Crimes Of The Heart
  • Piper Laurie in Children Of A Lesser God
  • Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in The Color Of Money
  • Maggie Smith in A Room With A View
  • Dianne Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters

My Ranking:

5. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Carmen in The Color Of Money

She has the most screentime of all the nominees this year, but easily gives the least impressive performance. Carmen is a character who stands around, looks sexy, and flirts; this is all her performance is required to do and that's all Mastrantonio commands. It is a boring, lifeless part full of moments where she tries too look like a vixen on-screen and couldn't look more embarrassing if she tried.

4. Piper Laurie as Mrs. Norman in Children Of A Lesser God

Even the finest films of the year can one link weak performance that somehow gets recognized and here's an example, Piper Laurie as Marlee Matlin's mother in Children Of A Lesser God. In what seems like 5 minutes (could be more) Laurie displays how her character wants to understand her daughter but has no idea how to do it. She's misunderstood and can't express it fully. That's the performance and the nomination never becomes as moving as it should have been.

3. Tess Harper as Chick Boyle in Crimes Of The Heart

Getting hit with a broom and putting on your pantyhose in front of people sounds like alot of fun but Tess Harper's Oscar nomination for it surely is not deserving. Chick is a loud, annoying, gossip queen who only appears for a brief time, and Harper plays her to an extreme hilt of over the top. As I have said before, broad comedy can be done right, but have yet to seen it done in the most brilliant way, and it's certainly not here.

2. Maggie Smith as Charlotte Bartlett in A Room With A View

It may be boring to no end, but Maggie Smith does give a nice impression as the chaperone in A Room With A View. Her character is interesting and Maggie could play these kinds of roles without thinking about them twice, she brings a nice touch of wit, but the role is too unimportant throughout the film for me to truly say she is the standout lady in charge. It's nice, but not much more.

1. Dianne Wiest as Holly in Hannah and Her Sisters

Dianne Wiest wins like a deserving thief in this horrible lineup as Hannah's whimsy sister Holly. She goes through change after change not finding a straight balance in her life including a stint with drugs. It's a complex character (one of Allen's best) that she handles with true ease, wonderful clarity, and brilliant precision. To say she blows away the screen is an understatement, she delivers and fulfills everything I could have imagined.

Honorable Omissions: None.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1998

And the Academy selected:
  • Kathy Bates in Primary Colors
  • Brenda Blethyn in Little Voice
  • Judi Dench in Shakespeare In Love
  • Rachel Griffiths in Hilary and Jackie
  • Lynn Redgrave in Gods and Monsters

My Ranking:

5. Brenda Blethyn as Mari Hoff in Little Voice

Ghastly is a good way of describing the following performance: Brenda Blethyn as hateful and abusive but funny (?) mom in Little Voice. Going over the top is one thing, but Blethyn is like a walking cartoon with a voice that could stop moving traffic. It might have actually been a juicy part had they not stuck such a shrill ham in the part.

4. Rachel Griffiths as Hilary Du Pre in Hilary and Jackie

Hilary and Jackie is obvious Oscar bait and it's an insufferable mess that is constantly boring me out of my head. Rachel Griffiths gets the less loud part of the two sisters, Hilary, who lead a normal life while her sister became a star. Both of the actresses are on the same level - an overall level of blandness effects it all and it never becomes an impressive achievement. She's not as bad as Emily Watson, but being nothing special next to bad isn't something too spectacular to be applauded for.

3. Lynn Redgrave as Hanna in Gods and Monsters

It's the same sort of cartoon Brenda Blethyn goes for, but Lynn Redgrave manages to find a better note for her character Hanna, but not by much. She is just the same kind of broad, quirky comic relief that if done right can be pleasing, but for me and especially here, it really has to be special. She throws stuff and has an interesting accent, but other then that, it's not a performance that needs to be praised.

2. Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare In Love

Judi Dench's very short performance as the imperial Queen Elizabeth is something that is often criticized today. She does have a charm that she holds throughout her performance, but it hardly makes a full impression. When she is on-screen, she commands it, and fully brings everything she can to such a small role, but it is simply not enough. Maybe if the role had panned out more, but not this little.

1. Kathy Bates as Libby Holden in Primary Colors

In the end, this weak year is capped by a terrific, wonderful performance from Kathy Bates. Libby Holden is a feminist in every sense of the word, and Bates fills the screen with her unusual, downhome acting style that results in a wonderful, funny performance that just sticks out amazingly in this hideous year. It is a terrific performance of a strong, unusual woman.

Honorable Omissions: Beverly D'Angelo in "American History X".