Monday, October 31, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1953

  • Grace Kelly in Mogambo
  • Geraldine Page in Hondo
  • Marjorie Rambeau in Torch Song
  • Donna Reed in From Here to Eternity
  • Thelma Ritter in Pickup On South Street

My Ranking:

5. Marjorie Rambeau as Mrs. Stewart in Torch Song
There's a point of doing nothing and receiving an Oscar nomination, here is a clear example. Marjorie Rambeau playing the drink swigging, wise cracking mother of Joan Crawford who only appears for about 6 or 7 minutes. There is nothing significant about her nor is she funny or touching as an all knowing mother, it's as if she received the nomination for simply walking on-screen and walking off.

4. Grace Kelly as Linda Nordley in Mogambo

Never a competent actress, Grace Kelly finds new way to look pretty on-screen in Mogambo playing an intelligent documentary filmmaker. All things are out of wack in this mess of a movie, but Kelly manages to be completely unconvincing especially when the camera demands her to be romantic, she couldn't be any more bad. There is not much to a Kelly performance, but it's excruciating here.

3. Donna Reed as Alma Burke/Lorraine in From Here To Eternity

Consistency is not the norm for this performance, Donna Reed playing a so-called prostitute Lorraine, who turns into a loving homebody named Alma once she meets Montgomery Clift. It's an unconvincing performance that has a touch of emotional power here and there, mostly being brought up by those around her making it all happen. She also suffers from being boring which is a problem for any performance, especially when you're playing a prostitute.

2. Geraldine Page as Angie Lowe in Hondo

Every Geraldine Page performance holds something unexpected and dynamic. Her problem playing a single mother on the frontier in Hondo is Hondo itself. It's such an awful vehicle for John Wayne to kill Indians, that not much good can be made out of it. Page is good, there is no doubt about it, but there is no depth whatsoever to her character, only what is supposed to be there. She makes it apparent, and all credit goes to her for even surviving to be at least good.

1. Thelma Ritter as Moe in Pickup On South Street

It was a bad year, so a win for Thelma Ritter was an easy way to go. Actually, her performance is not as totally amazing as most critics make it out to be - besides her final monologue, the rest of her performance doesn't totally live up to anything, just standard Thelma Ritter acting. But, her final scene is a masterpiece in it's own right, full of rich dialogue and perfect emotional reactions. It's the thing Oscars are made of, a perfect example, it could have been even more amazing had the rest of the performance had lived up to it.

Honorable Omissions: None.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Congratulations Ruth!

It's hard to stay on top of my blog, even from the get go, but my pick for the 1968 winner, Ruth Gordon, has managed to be my #1 for quite some time now, even through 215 performances. The supporting category has let me down this time around, alot of performances have gotten rotten ratings and just a few things have lived up to what it has used to be.

She's barely had any competition, except for a few young girls, now 4 time winner Olivia de Havilland, and a close second:

Eileen Heckart

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 2004

  • Cate Blanchett in The Aviator
  • Laura Linney in Kinsey
  • Virgina Madsen in Sideways
  • Sophie Okonedo in Hotel Rwanda
  • Natalie Portman in Closer

My Ranking:

5. Natalie Portman as Alice in Closer

Extremely interesting, Natalie Portman is just a wrong actress for the part. Alice, the mysterious stripper who is caught in the 4 way character narrative is a challenge for an actress because she is totally original and nothing like it has been seen. Unfortunately, all the cliches that escaped the writing, plagued Portman's characterization. When she cries, it's like a theater student trying their best to win over the audience, it's horrible. That coupled with the fact of the writing being so right and the performance so wrong, Portman just doesn't get anything right.

4. Laura Linney as Clara McMillen in Kinsey

Giving another interesting performance is Laura Linney playing the like-minded wife of Kinsey, Clara McMillen. But, like Natalie Portman, Laura Linney seems sort of out of place here, portraying Clara as a free minded woman who still seems a little conservative through all the sex talk her husband keeps throwing out. Linney plays a bland character trying to be the sex master that her husband is - it's alright, but not a particularly amazing performance.

3. Sophie Okonedo as Tatiana Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda

Sophie Okonedo's performance as the loving wife Tatiana is a role this category was made for. A loving, haunted wife supporting her strong, but conflicted husband no matter what. It's a flashy performance that isn't that long but Okonedo does made a good impression in her short time. Her big screaming scene is worth it, I just wish her performance had been a little more drawn out then it actually was.

2. Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator

You really have to look at the performance of Cate Blanchett as biggest Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn on an entertainment level, not as an actual accurate depiction. As I find The Aviator to be a near masterpiece, Blanchett fits perfectly in with the brilliant fastpace of the film and provides some of the film's best moments. She does not look or sound like Katharine Hepburn in any which way, but what she does is give a great, entertaining performance to watch within the context of the film.

1. Virginia Madsen as Maya in Sideways

Right from the beginning, I knew Madsen would dominate this category and I was right. Her powerful, emotional, intelligent performance as Maya is the highlight of Sideways and shows her great chops as an actress. As soon as she appears, she becomes the focal-point and few supporting performances can totally dominate a film the way she does here. Her description of why she loves wine, her reliving the past, and her communication of love and humor to Paul Gimatti was more then deserving of an Oscar.

Honorable Omissions: Mary Lynn Raskub in "Mysterious Skin", Lisa Long in "Mysterious Skin", Elisabeth Shue in "Mysterious Skin", Michelle Tractenburg in "Mysterious Skin", and Sandra Oh in "Sideways".

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1943


And the Academy selected:
  • Gladys Cooper in The Song Of Bernadette
  • Paulette Goddard in So Proudly We Hail!
  • Katina Paxinou in For Whom The Bell Tolls
  • Anne Revere in The Song Of Bernadette
  • Lucile Watson in Watch On The Rhine

My Ranking:

5. Lucile Watson as Fanny Farrelly in Watch On The Rhine

Lucile Watson's rather shrill performance as Bette Davis' mother in Watch On The Rhine, is clearly a nomination that rode the wave of the film. For the majority of her performance, she sits around, bosses and makes bitchy comments to anyone who will listen to her - it's not my cup of tea and Watson doesn't make a totally large impression with her small part and shrill character.

4. Paulette Goddard as Lt. Joan O'Doul in So Proudly We Hail!

I would probably like this performance more if Paulette Goddard was a much more talented actress. The part of Lt. Joan offers an actress to be continually charming, even hints of sexiness, but Goddard is the wrong choice for such a character or maybe it's just because her performance feels entirely ineffective and misunderstood. Simply a performance that is ridden with problems.

3. Anne Revere as Louise Soubirous in The Song Of Bernadette

Another actress I couldn't care less about, but Anne Revere is helped out a great deal with having very good material. She's doing her usual shtick, but there is a little hint of something great going on behind her that usually held my attention with her. It's still not a perfect performance in any sense of the word, but Revere is still good enough to be noticeable in a film that tries to overshadow her.

2. Katina Paxinou as Pilar in For Whom The Bell Tolls

Sitting through this awful movie is nothing but a chore, but Katina Paxinou is able to create her own whirlwind by herself playing the man-like mountain fighter Pilar. I used to be sort of in love with this performance, but watching it again after all this time, she is sucked up in the mediocre environment of the film. I still think it's a totally interesting performance filled with surprising moments and great depth injected into a normally dry film. Just not a favorite performance of mine anymore.

1. Gladys Cooper as Sister Marie Therese Vauzous in The Song Of Bernadette

No one can play a mean authority figure like Gladys Cooper - here, a strict nun with jealous and bitter intentions constantly showing beneath her veil. She is always after Bernadette because she knows she has been chosen for the holy vision and not she, who feels it should have been her. It's kind of a small part, but Cooper makes such a big impression with her small screentime that it's hard to ignore her or not love the way she slips into this character with such fierceness.

Honorable Omissions: None.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1989


And the Academy selected:
  • Brenda Fricker in My Left Foot
  • Anjelica Huston in Enemies: A Love Story
  • Lena Olin in Enemies: A Love Story
  • Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias
  • Dianne Wiest in Parenthood

My Ranking:

5. Julia Roberts as Shelby Eatenton Latcherie in Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias is a pretty hideous movie, but the actresses mostly give it a bad name. All are either forced (or think they have too) to go completely over the top and this year's nominee is perhaps the worst. Roberts, an actress with little to no acting range, puts on a fake, doomed smile and horrible accent throughout until she is finally dead. Her emotional scenes are shaky, her happy moments are awful, and for the third time, that accent!

4. Brenda Fricker as Mrs. Brown in My Left Foot

I was surprised revisiting My Left Foot after several years at how unmoved I was with Brenda Fricker's performance as Christy Brown's mother. She is still the wonderful-to-watch tough mother who would do anything for her child, but there's just something so bland about it now. It feels like I've seen a ton of roles just like this and Fricker is doing just 'okay' work here.

3. Lena Olin as Masha in Enemies: A Love Story

Lena Olin plays a married woman Masha and one of the main character's lovers in Enemies: A Love Story. She typifies the usual New York lady, but Olin projects a perfect charm, a mysterious sexiness that sets her character apart from being the usual thing audiences would be used too. Lena Olin gives a surprisingly wonderful performance that sticks out as much as she stands out against the rest.

2. Anjelica Huston as Tamara Broder in Enemies: A Love Story

They are both on the same level, but Anjelica Huston's performance is just a bit better. Tamara Broder was the wife of the main character but was sent to the concentration camps and presumed dead. When she comes to New York and finds him, he's actually thought of as a ghost there to haunt him, and throughout the film, that's the way I always saw her. She floats around the film, haunting it, and bringing a depressing bit of charm that uplifts the film wonderfully.

1. Dianne Wiest as Helen Buckman in Parenthood

Perhaps no one can handle straight forward comedy and hard hitting drama as well as Dianne Wiest, and her performance as single mother Helen in Parenthood is even more proof. The movie is a complete failure, but Wiest is able to make the best of it - getting the witty lines, the emotional scenes, and alot of good screentime. One minute she has me laughing and completely moved in the next; it's a totally terrific performance from this talented actress.

Honorable Omissions: None.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Actress In A Supporting Role" 1939

And the Academy selected:
  • Olivia de Havilland in Gone With The Wind
  • Geraldine Fitzgerald in Wuthering Heights
  • Hattie McDaniel in Gone With The Wind
  • Edna May Oliver in Drums Along The Mohawk
  • Maria Ouspenskaya in Love Affair

My Ranking:

5. Maria Ouspenskaya as Grandmother Janou in Love Affair

She's an exotic legend, but her two nominations were received for doing absolutely nothing. Her grandmother of Charles Boyer is a sweet creation, she appears in the middle, and disappears after 5 minutes of her just acting a bit senile and reminiscence of her youth. It's an interesting part but hardly one that deserved an Oscar nomination.

4. Edna May Oliver as Sarah McKlennar in Drums Along The Mohawk

In a movie that is downright awful and should be avoided at all costs, Edna May Oliver emerges as the best part of it, playing pioneer woman Sarah McKlennar. It's a bold, loud, and sometimes ridiculous performance that she handles incredibly well. She may void of any depth, but she gives a fun performance where she is mostly hilarious and evokes spirit into her spiritless film.

3. Geraldine Fitzgerald as Isabella Linton in Wuthering Heights

In the moody atmosphere of Wuthering Heights, Geraldine Fitzgerald's Isabella emerges as perhaps the most doomed and pathetic character of the story. At first, a rich girl too good for Heathcliff and finally his put upon wife whom she knows will never love her. It is a most terrific part where she conveys the feelings of a pathetic character wonderfully. She mesmerizes me almost everytime she's on-screen.

2. Hattie McDaniel as Mammy in Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind would be a different film without the caring, funny, and compassionate Mammy performed by Hattie McDaniel. At first glance, it is a typical slave role, but McDaniel adds the incredibly right amount of charm and humanity that frees it from being a total cliche. Every scene, she nails Mammy's dominance over Scarlett O'Hara whether she knows it or not. A magnificent performance incredibly worthy of her Oscar.

1. Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Wilkes in Gone With The Wind

But it is Olivia de Havilland's large, grand performance as the impossibly nice Melanie that gets my vote this year. She's 'too good too be true' and throughout she shows how Melanie's kindness forces her to sacrifice more then anyone. De Havilland does masterful work, edging around the fact that Melanie could be taken more then one way - instead we get the impossibly nice woman, with a sacrificing side who will do anything out of her kindness. A masterpiece of a performance and one of the best parts of Gone With The Wind.

Honorable Omissions: Butterfly McQueen in "Gone With The Wind", Ona Munson in "Gone With The Wind", and Margaret Hamilton in "The Wizard Of Oz".