Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1959

And the Academy selected:
  • Hermonie Bladdley in Room At The Top
  • Susan Kohner in Imitation Of Life
  • Juanita Moore in Imitation Of Life
  • Thelma Ritter in Pillow Talk
  • Shelley Winters in The Diary Of Anne Frank

My Ranking:

5. Susan Kohner as Sarah Jane Johnson in Imitation Of Life

Playing bratty kids is usually a common thing for young actresses, but Susan Kohner managed to get nomination for an Oscar for playing Sarah Jane Johnson, the daughter of a black woman. She is often harassed for being part black (unrealistic) and lashes out everyone around her, including her mother (terrible). Kohner never finds a right note to follow in her character and overacts with everyone else in the movie to a never-ending limit.

4. Juanita Moore as Annie Johnson in Imitation Of Life

Also from Imitation Of Life, is Juanita Moore playing the selflessness and warm-hearted mother of Susan Kohner, Annie Johnson. Throughout the movie, she is an angelic presence who can be ran over by anyone and she will still be their, dare I say it, slave. At times, her subtlety is not believable and Moore seems like she is focusing too much on it, until her big scenes where she blows through them, finding that weird balance between underwhelming and over the top. It may be a popular performance, but it's too melodramatic and ungrounded for me.

3. Hermione Baddeley as Elspeth in Room At The Top

Everyone is on their A-game in Room At The Top, but Hermione Baddeley's performance as Simone Signoret's devoted best friend feels a little out of place. It's the shortest nominated performance ever and her limited screentime surely shows when she suddenly bursts back onto the screen in final screaming match. Obviously she is trying to make this part no matter what and without a doubt, she is memorable, it's just not a good enough performance to warrant an Oscar nomination.

2. Thelma Ritter as Alma in Pillow Talk

Thelma Ritter's small comedic performance as Alma in Pillow Talk is a perfect example of a small comedy performance being recognized even though it's not entirely appreciated. She goes around drinking and throwing some kind of sarcastic line at everyone, she successfully holds together the character and cliches that afflict her character. It may not be an amazing performance by any means, but Thelma Ritter is able to still be interesting and thoughtful in a cliched role.

1. Shelley Winters as Petronella Van Daan in The Diary Of Anne Frank

Shelley Winter's career transforming performance came with The Diary Of Anne Frank, playing one of the people hidden away, Petronella Van Daan. She is a privileged woman from a privileged family and is not able to handle the harsh conditions of their hiding gracefully. Winters plays around with the character, inducing a 'high class' wit in Mrs. Van Daan that is still prevalent even when she is at her lowest crying over her lovely coat. It's a terrific performance and the only one that sticks out in this category.

Honorable Omissions: None.


dinasztie said...

Well, it's a weak year for sure. I think I'd also go with Shelley but I don't like her as much as you do.

dinasztie said...

BTW I saw Shelley's Oscar for this. :) It's Anne Frank's place in Amsterdam. Beautiful.

Jamie said...

It was a week year for sure. I'd have selected Carolyn Jones for Career, or even Alexis Smith for The Young Philadelphians over these nominees. The nominees were either over the top or not working with enough to really make something worthwhile.

Louis Morgan said...

I suppose I would choose Winters as well, who I liked well enough.

Sebbers said...

*sigh* I know this is an old post, but I wish you could have seen how much there was behind Imitation of Life, ESPECIALLY regarding the Annie/Sarah Jane story. I think both Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner were more than worthy of their nominations, and think Kohner definitely had more substance than just playing a "bratty" kid. But to each his own I suppose :)