Sunday, August 27, 2006

1962 "Smackdown"

It's that time again. Last Sunday in the month: time for a "Supporting Actress Smackdown" with StinkyLulu and the gang. Last month we watched 1961 films. In an odd fit of accidental chronology we went straight into 1962. Watch this clip...

This was an Oscar war between a deaf and blind girl (bait x 2), a classic literary tomboy, a trapped Southern princess, and two Oedipal manipulative moms. Who would you have voted for?

You can here our thoughts on the nominees and discuss over at StinkyLulu's SMACKDOWN. So come on over --it's more fun when you participate.

tags: Oscars, Academy Awards, celebrities, movies, cinema, films, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Manchurian Candidate, The Miracle Worker, Birdman of Alcatraz, Sweet Bird of Youth, Angela Lansbury


Anonymous said...


Your clips get better and better every month! I wish people who do Oscar clips had your taste!

Great work!

StinkyLulu said...

I adore each NatReel as its own special creation, but 1962 had a extra-special genius to it... Poignant, bittersweet, provocative. Yay.

par3182 said...

and that last "what?" is hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Angela Lansbury is a goddess, but Duke's performance just astounds me. I think AMPAS got it right this year.

Poli said...

I would agree that Duke deserved it if it were not a lead performance. I mean, the enitre movie/play is about her character!

Even taking that into account, I'd still pick Lansbury's supporting performance over Duke's lead any day.


i love them both. but yes, clearly Duke's is a lead role.

thanks for the comments. I didn't think this clipreel was as good but i'm glad people liked it. perhaps i was too stressed about it ;)

mistyh92104 said...

Agreed on the increasingly wonderful quality of your clips, Nathaniel. This one was SO good. A few thoughts:

I've been Oscar-obsessed since the mid-70s, but it wasn't until now that I realized all of the bird imagery in this particular category. To Kill a Mockingbird? Sweet Bird of Youth? The Birdman of Alcatraz? How could I have been so blind? (and no, that is not an intentional pun on Ms. Duke's performance, though it fits). Imagine if "The Birds" had been a year earlier and Jessica Tandy had been nom'd as well? Ah, wishful thinking!

This is one of those particular categories though (as with 1973 and the Blair/O'Neal nominations) that make me wish that the Academy had always had a category for juvenile performance or some such thing. Nothing against any of those wonderful younger performers (and Duke really was superb), but sometimes these youngsters are either true leads thrown into an improper category (e.g., Osment for The Sixth Sense) or the nominations are just wrong (compare Justin Henry in Kramer vs. Kramer to the others in his category). I know that this argument is futile, but I just can't help myself!

If a child category were the case, however, how nice it might have been to have seen (in addition to the excellent noms for Knight, Lansbury, and Ritter) Shelley Winters up for "Lolita" (a crazy omission!) and perhaps Polly Bergen for "Cape Fear"?

Regardless, this was a really good race, with five solid nominations, unlike the preceding year.

Love ya Nathaniel!

P.S. I've finally found an "identity" that I am happy with so I will no longer be "anonymous".

NicksFlickPicks said...

I actually think Duke's part is a supporting role in The Miracle Worker, albeit a generously sized and particularly indispensable one. The movie is much more about Annie: why she's doing what she's doing, how she settles into the Keller household, what her relationships are like with each of the very different members of that family, the ghosts she fights from her past, why and how she fights for Helen's education even when everyone else is cheering about folded napkins and table manners... Keep in mind how routinely we spend scenes with Bancroft alone, or with Bancroft and one of the Kellers. I don't remember ever being alone with Helen, except for a few moments within larger scenes (hiding the key in the well, for example).

To me, the fact that Helen feels like a lead is due to the ample and vivid impression Duke makes in the part; the script doesn't draw us inside Helen the way it does into Annie, but Duke's performance is so richly shaded that our pristine grasp of Helen's journey and of her internal struggles feels like it was always there in the script.


you make a case.

i wish it wasn't such an issue for me. It probably wouldn't be were it not for the glaring fraud that occurs like Ethan Hawke and Jamie Foxx recently.

f'rinstance i watched squid and the whale again this weekend and I was like --wait i said jeff daniels was supporting? why did i say that?

anyway. ARGH about lead/support.

but i really loved Duke's performance. I know I already remarked upon this but that final scene really shook me in a more real way that scenes of that nature usually do. I think Bancroft is awesome in the movie too. So eccentric and vivid but feels like a complete characterization rather than just showing off.

NicksFlickPicks said...

I totally feel you on this issue, especially with studios and actors getting more and more sheisty about lead/supporting classifications. Hawke and Foxx were ridiculous classifications, as (to me) was Julianne Moore in The Hours, a film that clearly has three female leads. Just as bad were those attempts to shill Johansson in Lost in Translation, Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider, and Watts in Mulholland Drive as supporting players. Osment shoulda been a lead: unlike Patty Duke vis-à-vis Anne Bancroft, Osment carries just as many of his own scenes as Willis does in The Sixth Sense, and the movie examines their crises in equitable ways. The Closer divisions also made no sense to me: a movie with four balanced leads, and a narrative/thematic project fueled equally by all four engines.

I guess all of us Oscar mavens have our pet issues, and have persuaded ourselves that we have the best possible barometer of who/what is a lead and who/what is a supporting part. I probably sound like an asshole, but like you said, "faking" these classifications for awards purposes bugs me. That's a different thing, I think, than a case like Daniels in The Squid and the Whale, where you draw the mental line differently depending on how you read the film. If you see the movie as fundamentally about the kids' growing up, especially the older brother, then Daniels could be seen as supporting—though, like you, I tip "lead" in his case. But that's just it: I think one has to read the film to make a persuasive argument in these cases. One can't just count screen time or assume that the male actor and female actress with the biggest parts are Leads and everyone else automatically supports them.

Why am I getting on such a soapbox? Better jet. I'm in mountain/molehile mode, for who knows what reason. It's not like Jamie Foxx or Ethan Hawke personally aggressed me!


i'm glad you're no longer anonymous. welcome. Now we just have to wonder which anonymous posts are yours ;)

and i can't believe i didn't notice the bird thing either. even after in the clipreel the song that anne bancroft sings having "mockingbird" in it and I thought 'how cool' and still didn't think -everything is birdy here.

that is the way i read squid and whale originally --i viewed Eisenberg as the sole lead. But on a repeat viewing I'm not so sure...

By all means watch The Miracle Worker! I always assumed it was one of those "triumph of the human spirit" mediocrities that Oscar loves because they're moving. But it's remarkably good and even unsentimental at times.

Poli said...

Good, Lord, I didn't mean to start a Lead/Supporting debate!

The tricky thing with Lead/Supporting is that, while a movie can solely focus on a single character, it can still encompass another character so fully that they are a 2nd lead (Dnezel/Ethan in Training Day, for example). But since it's getting harder for movies to get multiple lead noms (I subscribe to the theory that is was either Kidman or Streep that would be nommed for The Hours, never was a case of both having a shot), fraudulent categorizations will continue.

I mean, we're talking about Jennifer Hudson being a lock for Supporting Actress when Effie is one of the leads of Dreamgirls.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, so I'll wander away now.

Anonymous said...

No, no. The role of Helen Keller is definitely supporting. The show is called THE MIRACLE WORKER, and that is Annie Sullivan. Bancroft is without question "the" lead.

Anonymous said...

Great clips!!! I love the supporting actresses discussions.

Patty Duke was the best. Her work as a blind and deaf girl was AMAZING. AMAZING.

1. Patty
2. Shirley
3. the others

Anonymous said...

Duke is amazing yes ....
like Bancroft ...
but Lansbury is so good. I can't choose.

Anonymous said...

Legendary Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate. Mrs. Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate is not only her best screen performance, but also one of the greatest female supporting performances ever!
Plus Patty Duke was clearly lead. Very competitive year for this category. The only performance I haven’t seen is terrific Thelma Ritter in Birdman of Alcatraz.