Friday, December 22, 2006

Lead/Support: A Fine Line

Hudson in Dreamgirls. Bening in Running With Scissors. The casts of The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine. O'Hara in For Your Consideration. If you've seen those movies, how would you categorize the roles: Lead or support? Inquiring minds want to know.


Anonymous said...

Hudson is lead. even if she didn't steal the show, it's effie's.

Bening supports's his POV.

O'Hara is part of an ensemble, so it's easy to say they're all supporting...but, more so than any other Guest movie, this one had bigger and smaller characters. i think she's lead.

departed: dicaprio is lead. nicholson is debatably supporting (close call though). damon, wahlberg, etc. supporting.

sunshine: definite ensemble. no one has more screen time than the rest (arkin just has less). all are supporting. collette and kinnear aren't leads just b/c they're the parents and breslin isn't lead just b/c she's the title character...or at least a contestant of.

Anonymous said...

Hudson - A close call... but I'd say supporting

Bening - Lead.

O'Hara - Supporting

DiCaprio - Lead
Damon - Lead
Nicholson - Supporting
Wahlberg - Supporting

"Sunshine" cast - (All) supporting

Anonymous said...

Hudson is lead but

Benning is slight lead, but if campign for supporting would have a better shot.

Departed- Leo and Matt lead, rest supporting.

Sunshine- Everyone is supporting though I guess since Kinner had those few minutes to himself will he went off to talk with the Publisher I guess you can push him into lead.

Anonymous said...

I think Hudson is the lead and Beyonce is supporting. It's Effie's story.

I agree that DiCaprio and Damon are lead, Nicholson and Wahlberg are supporting.

The entire cast of SUNSHINE is supporting.

Bening is technically supporting, but her amount of screen time really pushes her into lead catagory.

Joe R. said...

Of what I've seen so far,

DiCaprio, Damon -- lead
Nicholson and everyone else -- supporting

O'Hara -- supporting

I could see and easily agree with everyone as supporting, but I could get behind Kinnear and Breslin as leads, also.

Barry said...

Hudson is supporting. She has less screen time than Beyonce (who is the leading lady). Even though Hudson steals the show in terms of performance, Beyonce has more screen time.

Bening is the hard one to decipher. I can see her as being the female lead of the movie so........for me she is lead

Leonardo Dicaprio and Matt Damon are the 2 leads. Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga etc. are all supporting.

Greg Kinnear & Toni Collette are the leads of Little Miss Sunshine. Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell and Paul Dano are all supporting.

Catherine O'Hara is supporting in For Your Consideration.

Departed, Sunshine and Consideration are all ensemble films and a lot of people think all the characters are supporting. However, I stand by my decisions.

Kris said...

Everyone in "Dreamgirls" should be supporting. Maybe if the story had been more clearly defined as one character's or another's, a lead could be distinguished. But I don't buy Hudson as a lead anymore than I buy Knowles as a lead.

"The Departed" is interesting. I think Damon is THE lead of the film. It's his story, given the structure. But his performance is so nondescript (the weak link of the cast) and blown off the screen by Leo that it's tough to back up that assertion. Leo is a lead too, but less so, paradoxically, given the screen time. Everyone else, supporting.

Annette Bening's is a supporting character in "Running with Scissors." But it's very easy to forgive a lead campaign.

"For Your Consideration" is such a bad film that it's hard to break it down into categorization, but I'd call Catherine O'Hara a lead. It ceases to become her story after the third act begins, however, and the already flaky film really falls apart.

"Little Miss Sunshine" is pretty tough. I think Toni Collette is a lead here. The film begins with her and her catalyst (Carrell). Kinnear is also a lead, I feel. It really is their story. Everyone else is supporting, but a case could be made for Breslin being a lead.

Poli said...

Departed: Leo/Matt/Jack all lead, Martin Sheen/Marky Mark supporting

Dreamgirls: Hudson is supporting (Haven't seen it, but from what I understand, the focus is on Beyonce: her vehicle, after all)

For Your Consideration: O'Hara supporting (Haven't seen this one, but most I hesistate to ever list anyone as a lead in a Guest movie)

Sunshine: Fuck it, all are supportiong.

Not gonna touch Scissors.

adam k. said...

I have unfortunately not seen Dreamgirls or Scissors or FYC, but I would imagine that Annette Bening could be perceived as supporting rather easily... it is after all Joseph Cross' story. She really should've gone supporting for oscar. But I guess when the campaign started, she thought she had more of a shot in lead. Sigh.

I think everyone in Sunshine is supporting, and I have always thought that. The easiest to buy as lead, though, for me, is Kinnear, the father/alpha-male and one who undergoes the most real change... followed by Breslin, the "title character" (but I really think she is supporting). And MAYBE Collette could be lead, like for globe comedy purposes, but the whole point of her character is support. Sheryl literally supports everyone else. Anyway, I think it's an ensemble and they're all supporting... except maybe Kinnear (and his campaign is for lead, so maybe follow that... but it's a shame since he's one of the best in the cast and would probably make a supporting lineup).

I think Leo and Matt are so both leads, but Matt's not really award-worthy anyway, so whatever. Leo I could buy as both. But might as well call him lead (though I personally would probably only be able to make room for him in supporting).

Neel Mehta said...

Dreamgirls, for the most part, is easy. Jennifer Hudson plays a supporting role; like it or not, Effie is given the B storyline for the second half of the movie.

Jamie Foxx is the lead. Eddie Murphy, Keith Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, and Danny Glover are supporting. Beyonce? You could argue that she's consistently involved in the A storyline, and has a lot of screen time, but I don't think of the film carrying her POV. It's kind of irrelevant, because Hollywood stardom makes it a leading role.

I agree with anon that Annette Bening supports Joseph Cross in Running with Scissors, but the absence of a female lead (it's not Evan Rachel Wood or Jill Clayburgh), stardom factor, and length of memorable screen time make it an arguable leading role.

Little Miss Sunshine is tricky. Greg Kinnear is the lead. Everyone else, including Toni Collette and Abigail Breslin, are supporting. It gets tricky because you could argue that Collette has almost as much screen time as Kinnear, but her character lacks a story. Breslin has a story, but she doesn't have as much screen time as you'd think. Plus, she's a kid, and this wasn't Whale Rider.

Anonymous said...

Hudson is definitely lead.
I'd say Bening and O'Hara are lead as well, but not so definitely.
"The Departed": DiCaprio and Damon are lead /Damon's performance shouldn't be considered supporting just because it's not strong enough/ and all the rest of them - supporting /by the way, I hate Nicholson's performance and love Wahlberg's/.
Little Miss Sunshine - everyone's supporting OR Colette, Kinnear and Breslin are lead. But I'd say supporting.

By the way: Maria Bello in "A History of Violence" was LEAD in my opinion. And probably that's why she wasn't nominated /vote split/.

Anonymous said...

I can kinda see Kinnear as lead, just because he's the only character with much of an arc.

It's hard to position Damon because he was so blown offscreen by almost everyone else. I'd say he's less of a lead than Leo but more than Jack.

Michael Parsons said...

Hudson - Supporting - Not her fault the shiny porceline Bidet didn't step it up. I can't all be about the Beyonce.

Bening - Lead - Top billing, all the press was on her, in interviews she acted like guess what are.

O'Hara - Is here ever a real lead in Guest's films?

DiCaprio - Lead - It was about him really.

Damon - Lead - and him.

Nicolson - Supporting, I think he should be considered lead when he decides to stretch. The Joker +The Devil (Witched of Eastwick) = this performance.

Wahlberg - Definate supporting.

Little Miss Sunshine - All supporting. I love you Toni!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hudson - support.
Bening - lead.
O'Hara - support.
DiCaprio - lead.
Nicholson - support.
Damon - lead.
Wahlberg - support.
Arkin - support.
Collette - lead.
Kinnear - lead.
Breslin - support.


Sid said...

Damon and DiCaprio are leads, though a case could be made for Nicholson as well. BUT it's primarily about those two so I say Jack is supporting.

Bening is SUPPORTING. Yes, she could be pushed as a lead, but in such a strong year the studio should've had sense to push her as supporting. She could've been head to head with Hudson for the trophy.

Anonymous said...

I echo the sentiments of those who say that DiCaprio and Damon are both technically the leads of 'The Departed,' but DiCaprio seems more like the lead because he makes a more memorable impact.
Nicholson is definitely supporting, imo.

Anonymous said...

p.s. That last anonymous one should have said 'jess'


Edward Copeland said...

I think Bening can be considered lead. In The Departed, I think Damon and DiCaprio are co-leads and everyone else is supporting. Everyone in supporting in Sunshine. I don't know why they are trying to sell Kinnear as lead. One thing that not many have mentioned: I think Michael Sheen really qualifies as a lead in The Queen, though they are probably wise to sell him as supporting since it's really Mirren's show.

Glenn Dunks said...

Well, I've only seen The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine. As others have said, DiCaprio and Damon are leads while everyone else is supporting (that codswallop about DiCaprio and Damon being supporting was ridiculous) and... well, the only LMS cast member that I would consider lead would be Kinnear if for no other reason than he is sort of the spearhead of the movie. He takes everyone place to place. Everyone follows him.


y'all sound as confused as me.

i'm not asking for campaign purposes but for the FB awards. i genuinely think all of these cases are blurry... but i need to decide to see if any of them make it.

Anonymous said...

Damon, DiCaprio - lead, the rest - supporting
LMS - all supporting
Hudson - lead
O'Hara - lead
Bening - lead

By the way - you've forgotten about Ben Affleck's Venice win for "Hollywoodland".

Anonymous said...

I´d love to know theis approximate screen time as well as others from the past. I was always very surprised that Frances and Tony had such a limited screen time but left such a huge impression and were voted as leads. I guess these things should be categorized as such:
1. how important those characters are to the plot
2.their screen time.
(13 up = lead)

1. 9(it´s her story)
2. 7(she´s in 70% of the scenes)
17 = lead

1. 5
2. 5
10 = support

1. 8
2. 6
14 = lead

1. 9
2. 8
17 = lead

1. 8
2. 7
15 = lead

1. 7
2. 5
12 = support

1. 8
2. 8
16 = lead

rest of them = support

Anonymous said...

hudson = 16 (I changed my mind in the last minute)

StinkyLulu said...

Bening is absolutely LEAD - while the story is from Cross' POV etc, the adaptation frames the narrative as a mother story -- in which, Bening is Lead & Clayburgh is Supporting. I don't think there's any question.

I also agree that Walhberg and (gack) Nicholson are the two Supporting, with Damon/Dicaprio as parallel leads (in the same way I would argue that Streep/Hathaway are parallel Leads).

Apparently I'm alone in my conviction that Breslin and Kinnear are the leads of Sunshine. I don't see Colette as lead, no way, no how.

Hudson and O'Hara are judgment calls, I suspect. As for Hudson, I've always felt the character was Supporting and that Holliday's Tony win as Lead was weird. I suspect it's is similar to what I felt about claiming Shareeka Epps as Supporting. Even though the performance was substantial (in terms of screen time and charisma) the narrative consistently defers to other characters in terms of actual structure, making the performance a really really big Supporting role.

In contrast, I'd argue that O'Hara is actually Lead in FYC (not unlike her role in Mighty Wind). Her awards arc constructs the narrative structure (what there is of it) and her emotional arc is the soul of the film.

russtifer said...

The Departed:
- Leo DiCaprio Lead
- Matt Damon Lead
- Jack Nicholson Supporting

Little Miss Sunshine:
However you want it. It's a tough call but a case can be made for Abigail as lead or supporting. Same for Toni, though I'd lean more towards supporting with her.

For Your Consideration:
- Catherine O'Hara supporting

Anonymous said...

For the Departed:

DiCaprio as lead.
The rest as supporting.
I didn't feel any of the characters carried the weight of the movie like Leo did. It was his in my opinion. Nicholson was flat and Damon was too under the radar.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the issue of Damon and DiCaprio being leads would have ever come up if they didn't have competing lead performances in other films.

The one that is really annoying me this year is The Last King of Scotland, and people trying to claim either Whitaker or McAvoy as supporting. That is a film with TWO LEADS. Just like Collateral or Brokeback Mountain had two leads. People don't want to admit that a film can have two leads because two lead noms in the same category is obviously rare. But just cause campaigns play that game doesn't mean we have to play along.

Incidentally, I thought Damon was fantastic in The Departed. He just wasn't as showy as his co-stars-and that's a good thing. Memorably devious and slick.


anonymous. don't worry. both whitaker and mcavoy are leads with me. It's very rare to have a movie about the relationship between two people in which both aren't leads.

ugh i hate what oscar campaigns have done to people's perceptions of this.

re: Hudson. Effie is the central character in a lot of ways but the cast is so big and like Stinky says, the narrative is constantly going elsewhere that I think a case could be made for supporting. it's very confusing. It would be clearer if Beyonce's performance were good but even if it was intended as "lead" she doesn't take enough ownership of the screen to register that way so maybe the lead is just the music with all character supporting. kinda the way LMS is the journey as the lead with all characters in support?


adam k. said...

"it would be clearer if Beyoncé's performance were good"

HAhahahahahaha... let's not mince words now

In cases like Hudson where you have to really think to make sense of it all, why not just go with the flow and place her where she can win.

re: Kinnear, I think actually the reason they're campaigning him as lead (other than that he sorta kinda is) is to take him out of the running so he doesn't siphen votes away for Arkin and Carrell. On second thought, I'd say he is really supporting along with all of them, arc or no (cause if you wanna make it about arcs, then really Dano has the biggest one of all). I think the strongest case for lead for Kinnear is, like Glenn said, that he drives the bus (since the bus is the real lead).

Anonymous said...


Leo and Matt are leads, the rest are supporting.


This is a clear ensemble, all of them are supporting, the fact that Alan Arkin has less screentime doesn't make the others leads. Kinnear could arguably be a leading actor, but I don't really buy that. And in no way is Breslin the protagonist.

Anonymous said...

Respectful disagreement with Marcelo here; I think DiCaprio, Arkin and Carrell are all worthy nominees from the two movies in question.


Anonymous said...

I do not take screen time alone into account. I mean Carrell and Dano likely have as much if not more screen time in LMS that Forrest Does in the Last King of Scottland, but that does not mean he should given back his critic awards. It depends are want you do and your impact to the story.

Anonymous said...

Nate --

I disagree with your view on Beyonce. Being a theatre fan, I'm sure you know the show - and the flaws that exist in Beyonce's performance are largely character problems that have always been there in the material - Deena Jones, unfortunately is not a thinly veiled Diane Ross - who was absolutely a more vital, coniving and passionate character.

For some reason, the authors of DREAMGIRLS thought Deena should a relatively passive figure. It's a completely underwritten role.

That Beyonce doesn't leap off the screen until about 2/3rds through the film is largely a directorial choice based on the original material and I'm not sure that any actress could have done much more with that role, particularly when large segments like the "Press Conference" were removed from the film script. If anything, I'd say the fact that Beyonce/Deena is "bland" is exactly the point Condon is trying to make. She's not supposed to have the charisma of Effie (or maybe even Lorell. She is a MANUFACTURED star.

As it is, I found Beyonce vibrant in the musical numbers and at least as convincing in her acting as other pop princess Whitney Houston, and Ross herself (and at least a thousand times better than any Madonna performance). And she is absolutely stunning.

Craig Hickman said...

In Dreamgirls, the music and the music industry are the co-leads.

All the players are supporting.

Craig Hickman said...

Screen time isn't the best way to determine leads v. supporting. Didn't Anthony Hopkins only have something like 30 minutes of total screen time in Silence of the Lambs? Yet he was unquestionably the lead.

Anonymous said...

I would say Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon are both clearly leads: the movie is split between both of their overlapping story archs. When I first saw the movie, I said Jack Nicholson was also a lead, because he is what propels the film's actions and he's so clearly THERE, even when he's not onscreen. However, in terms of screentime, I think a vote in supporting is perfectly acceptable. In fact, that's what I would do I found that my choices for supporting actor were a weak bunch, I'd move Nicholson to that category.

The Little Miss Sunshine cast are definately working in an ensemble. All of them are technically supporting, but I think how you interpret the film has a lot to do with boosting players to lead status. For me, the film's central conflict was the shaky marriage of the parents, so I would say Collette and Kinnear are the leads. I could understand how Bresllin could be considered lead, if you see the movie's plot as solely concerning the pageant. I think Arkin, Carell, and Dano are clearly supporting. I'd put Breslin in supporting, too. However, there's so much good stuff in the lead categories, I'd just put everyone in Little Miss Sunshine in supporting.

- Adam

Craig Hickman said...


You thought Beyonce was as convincing as Miss Ross in Lady Sings the Blues or even Mohagony?


I agree about The Voice and Madonna, though.

Craig Hickman said...

Of course, I meant Mahogany.

Anonymous said...

I thought she was more than convincing as Ross in MAHOGANY which is a completely awful campfest. And Ross gives one of the worst musical movie performances ever in THE WIZ...

Ross WAS good in LADY - but she's playing Billie Holliday. A neurotic, drug addicted. prostitute/singer with ten husbands. Deena Jones doesn't even get to snort one line of cocaine in DREAMGIRLS. It's not really fair to compare the two roles...

c.p. iñor said...

I can only talk of what I've seen...

I think DAMON is the lead and everyone elses is supporting (the thing here is taht DICAPRIO is better) Best Performance = WAHLBERG.

All supporting...
Best Performance = PAUL DANO

O'HARA is the lead... and the film's best performance.


Anonymous said...

Marcelo - point taken. Different strokes, different folks.

Merry Christmas back to you and to all here! Oscar season is so much more fun with you all.



to brad said --Beyonce: yes, it is meant to be a bland role but she just isn't that convincing (well, other than blandness --she does get that right --as an actress) The Listen scene is smashing. And she's great in that one scene. But one scene does not make a movie performance. imho. --plus that scene throws off the movie quite a bit. You can tell it's an add on to make her part bigger. But it kinda throws the whole point of the piece. So it's a great scene at the expense of the movie.

and to say that Beyonce is better than Madonna's ever been. Hello, Evita!!! Madonna was super in that.

to all: I guess i've decided what i think of all of these after thinking on it and hearing your arguments as well --except O'Hara and Hudson. I'm still waffling a bit. but leaning: O'Hara lead. Hudson support.

douglas said...

nicholson, damon, dicaprio -> lead
others - supporting
bening - lead
ohara - lead
hudson - supporting
beyonce - bland

Anonymous said...

QUESTION: Even though Benning has been campaigned as a lead, does she still have a chance at grabbing that fifth spot in supporting? I know Academy members just fill in the names where they want them, but does she honestly have a chance? I am very intrigued by the idea of Benning in supporting. I have seen the film and after reading most of these posts, I can buy her in supporting. I'm trying to remember if this has happened recently. Where an actor/actress was actively campaigned as a lead and then on nominations day, nominated in supporting (or a vice versa scenario). Can anyone recall an instance or have an opinion on this?


it doesn't happen often. usually backfires (a la Naomi Watts in Mulholland Dr campaigned in supporting originally. )

the only times i can recall were supporting campaigns which ended up nominated in leads Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City --though this was before today's climated of campaigning, and Keisha Castle Hughes for Whale Rider.

Anonymous said...

That said, Nathaniel, what do you think about Annette in supporting? Does she have a prayer in the relatively open supporting category?

adam k. said...

Supporting isn't really that open. 2 spots are sealed (Hudson, Blanchett), 2 are probably occupied (Kikuchi, Barazza), and one is basically open. But there are a lot of people fighting for it who are actually campaigning in supporting (O'Hara, Blunt, Breslin, Collette, etc.)

Anonymous said...

I agree. That's why I'm asking if she has a prayer. I do think that there is really only one spot open in Supporting. That's still more open than either of the leading categories which are pretty tight (i.e. someone has to be bumped in order for there to be one open seat). So, I guess I may have answered my own question, but it's just interesting to me.

Craig Hickman said...

And to take adam k's point one step further: Who's actually predicting that Jennifer Hudson won't win the Oscar?

From all the buzz and predictors, she'll win handily, unless she suffers the similar fate of another young actress named Hudson who was practically in the lead for the whole race but who lost to a better performance in an objectively meatier role by Marcia Gay Harden.

I just haven't seen an better performance in an objectively meatier role this year.

Anonymous said...

Only seen The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine, but I'll offer:

Damon and DiCaprio as lead in The Departed
Everybody else is supporting (including Jack)

I don't there are any leads in Little Miss Sunshine. Closest that feels like a lead is Kinnear.

Anonymous said...

I just don´t think it´s fair to place Hudson in the supporting category just because it would be easier for her to win. That´s cheating. Why even bother nominate others then? It would be much more interesting to see two great performances(Mirren´s and Hudson´s) fighting for the same trophy. That´s why Mirren has won all of them: no competition.
How could they campaign Naomi as supporting for Mulholland Dr.???? I finally understand now why she wasn´t nommed(and didn´t win) the Oscar that year...

Anonymous said...

I'm sensing the beginnings of a Mirren backlash. Sometimes you win them all because you actually are the best.


Glenn Dunks said...

Mirren sure was good, but she in terms of 2006, she was no Penelope Cruz in my eyes. I'd probably place her after Cruz, Streep and maybe Linney on my list so far, but I haven't seen a lot like O'Hara, Mol, Bening, Watts, Dern, Gyllenhaal, Winslet, Knowles, Blanchett, Li, Lee, Miller...

Glenn Dunks said...

ignore the first "she" in my above entry.

J.D. said...

I think that DiCaprio and Damon are lead in "The Departed" and Nicholson, Wahlberg, etc. were supporting.

"Little Miss Sunshine": all supporting. Now, that's an ensemble. Brilliant movie, too.

I have yet to see "Dreamgirls", "RWS" and "FYC", but O'Hara is probably supporting, Bening seems like a supporting (star power should have nothing to do with it, and with Hudson, her character is as much (and probably more) lead as Beyonce's, but in the film spectrum, she is supporting. You can put her wherever you want for personal listings, but for the academy and all the critical associations, she's supporting. She's be guarenteed for gold that way.

*NOTE* Like I said before, star power should me nothing. In my mind, "The Devil Wears Prada" is Anne Hathaway's movie, as much as Meryl Streep's star is huge, she's not the main character. She's supporting. And will Anne Hathaway ever be recognized for anything?!?!?!