Thursday, January 6, 2011

Category Close Up: Supporting Actress


Amy Adams for The Fighter - A beautiful piece of work from Adams who has been gathering momentum since her breakout in Junebug. If people start to thinking how much they like her and how impressive her run has been (this will be her 3rd nom in 6 years plus what many consider a snub for Enchanted) added to the fact that this part is a stretch from her usual prim and adorable roles, then Adams might just grab the win away from her flashier co-star.

Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech - A lock for a nomination, although for the life of me I can't see why. Don't get me wrong. It's a perfectly respectable performance. A real professional at work, no question. But as far as exceptional or memorable, I dunno, maybe somebody can fill me in as to what I'm missing. I don't have the nerve not to predict her, but if you were to ask me to guess what might be the morning's most shocking snub...nah, forget it, she's in.

Barbara Hershey for Black Swan - I'm going out on a limb here. I think Hershey is going to pull a Marcia Gay Harden and grab and nom without significant precursor support because A) It's a great part and she's gives a memorable performance in it, avoiding the one dimensional monster bait B) It's one of the highest profile films of the race so you know everyone is going to see it and C) I think her veteran status may lead her to edge out Kunis if only just barely. This is what my gut is telling me, although my guy has been known to be biased.

Melissa Leo for The Fighter - Stole the frontrunner status from Bonham Carter after people, you know, actually saw the films. A mortal lock for a nom, Leo's chances of winning matching supporting trophies with her on screen son are high, and deservedly so. Standing is her way is strong internal competition from Amy Adams and a gathering momentum for Hailee Steinfield.

Hailee Steinfield for True Grit - It's that horse trading scene that did it. She so nails that crowd-pleasing exchange I could feel the audience sit up and ask, "Who is that?" It's a star-making scene and she follows it up with a performance of jarring maturity, going believably toe to toe with the likes of Brolin, Bridges, and Damon. The only thing that could keep her out of the race is if votes split between supporting, where she's being pushed, and the more accurate lead category. If they buy her as supporting, though, all the screen time is going to make her a legitimate contender, fair or no.

Mila Kunis for Black Swan - Like I said with Hershey, it helps immensely to be in the film that everyone is talking about plus she landed the SAG nomination, so her chances of grabbing one of those five slots are very good. I think she'll ultimately finish 6th or 7th because her role lacks a big attention grabbing scene that leads to a big vote count. They don't often nominate on strong line readings and great presence, although I wouldn't mind if they started.

 Jackie Weaver for Animal Kingdom - The critic's darling. She's a strong possibility but, like Kunis, I think she'll ultimately prove to be too subtle and she has the added liability of being in a tiny movie many will miss. Still, she's got the critic's crying for her to be included and if enough people are paying attention the performance speaks for itself. That scene in the grocery check-out lane is chilling stuff.

Diane Wiest for Rabbit Hole - Rabbit Hole hasn't caught on outside of Nicole Kidman's performance, likely due to voters avoiding the somber material, so two-time Oscar Wiest is likely to be an also-ran for her reliably strong work as Kidman's mom. 

Dale Dickey for Winter's Bone - She brings welcome depth to what could have been a one-note character. Her work really helps to flesh out that world and show what Jennifer Lawrence is up against. Too small for Oscar though. Too unlikable and too grimy as well, but mostly too small.
Rooney Mara for The Social Network - Speaking of roles that are too small, Mara only has two substantial scenes with which to make her mark on the movie, but she lands them both cold, and her presence hovers over the rest of the film. Plus she handles Sorkin's dialogue like she's just come off four seasons of The West Wing and that opening scene is already the stuff of legend.

Ruth Sheen for Another Year - A performance composed entirely of quiet, kindness, and gentleness is going to have a tough time landing a nomination, even in a Mike Leigh film. Too bad since Sheen takes a mostly reactive character and gives her an impressively rich array of shadings and nuance.

Olivia Williams for The Ghost Writer - My biggest disappointment in this category is that Williams's work couldn't get any traction. A deceptively simple performance that reveals unsuspected complexity as the mystery deepens - to my mind this is what great supporting work is all about.

Michelle Williams / Marion Cotillard - for Shutter Island and Inception, respectively - Two excellent performances made all the more impressive by being largely limited to Leo's tortured memories. Either would be contenders if given just one more scene that fleshed out the character, but as it stands they both supported their film's beautifully in their necessarily limited capacity.


Other Category Close Ups


  1. tell me about it.
    i hate how Helena Bonham Carter is getting all this attention.
    that performance has nothing special.
    i feel like she's totally running on the momentum of the film, when she could have been completely ignored just because in comparison, the performance is nowhere near as good as her co-stars.

  2. Leo is so over the top she ruined THE FIGHTER for me.

  3. I'm on Team Cotillard for Supporting Actress (since at least her film is still in the conversation more than Patricia Clarkson in Shutter Island). Since I know that's not going to happen, I've jumped to Mila Kunis. When that fails, I'll always have Jackie Weaver, right?

  4. Amir - Yeah. Nothing against Carter, of course. It's just a fairly straightforward role. Only so much to do with it.

    Yabby - I'm with the group who feels the character is over the top, not the performance. Her character feels like one of those people who you would meet in real life and then tell your friends, "You would not believe who I had to deal with today." Footage of the real Dickey suggests that he was just as big if not bigger as Bale's performance. I have a hunch similar footage of Leo would show the same.

    Robert - Marion really did beautifully within the limitations of that role, no question. I would not be displeased at all to see her make the top 5. I just had other actors ahead of her in line.

  5. I love Barbara Hershey in that role, but I wouldn't draw comparisons to Marcia Gay Harden. MGH was a surprise nominee because her movie was a latecomer to the scene.

  6. The only comparison I'm drawing to Marcia Gay Harden is that she was twice nominated while missing out on big early awards like SAG and Globes, and I think Hershey might do the same. Just wanted to illustrate it was possible

  7. Hailee Steinfeld needs to gtfo.

  8. The thing about Carter's performance for me is it was quite humorous and looked tossed off. I think she'd wholly deserve a nom and if they gave her the win, it'd be like a lifetime achievement award. Haven't seen most of the others to compare, but I'm a big Adams fan.

  9. I've been starting to sound like a broken record on this, but I truly believe that in a just world, Anika Noni Rose and Kimberly Elise would be in serious Best Supporting Actress consideration for their performances in For Colored Girls.

  10. I missed Colored Girls in theaters and I don't get screeners, so I can't say, but it wouldn't surprise me. I thought Rose gave the best female performance by far in Dreamgirls. And even if Tyler Perry botched the film as I read he did, that should not take away from the performers.