Friday, January 11, 2008

Supporting Actress 2007, Mine

Before the season truly began, I wrote an article questioning why so many Oscar watchers felt the supporting actress category was a weak one in 2007. But, come time to choose my own five I understood. Not in the sense that there was no good work but in the realization that there was a ton of good work that all felt roughly equal in quality. In other words: tons of troupers, too few undeniable standouts. So many women were doing interesting or moving things but their films didn't ask enough of them in some way or another (screen time, character complexity, etc...).

You may be surprised to see Cate Blanchett on my list for I'm Not There. It was something I puzzled over and fought with myself about (I take awards a wee bit too seriously, you know) but I saw the film again recently and she's not there. My hurdle was separating my own feelings about the way people react to her from her actual work. It's tough to do when someone is as revered and ubiquitous as she. So while I still find critical and public reaction to her as an actress annoyingly over reverent and undiscerning and I don't think she should win the Oscar for it and I think she's getting credit for things that don't involve her (the casting, the energy of the film around her --her section of I'm Not There is super charged) I still have to be honest and say that she's pretty damn good in it. It's a stunt. It's a parlor trick. But damn, it's a good one. I'm calling it "authentically fake". The performance behind the performance --you can see Blanchett doing Dylan as opposed to Blanchett being Dylan no matter what people tell you. But I came to see this as a good thing. It's yet another winking layer on the impossibility of fixed identity and the natural "look at me" shape shifting of entertainers. She was having fun rather than trying to "be" and I had a much better time watching her work when I went in for this reevaluation.

epilogue: for my fellow Todd Haynes enthusiasts who were hoping that I'd learn to love the movie more (my previous review) with a repeat viewing --something I hoped for myself --I am sad to report that I felt exactly the same. I maybe liked it even less. I just can't really connect to it. Fine ideas, fun imagery, great music all free float within but for me at least it doesn't cohere and overworks its admittedly great thesis.

Click here for the complete list of FiLM BiTCH Award Supporting Actress nominees. Then share your "if I had a ballot" names in the comments


Glenn Dunks said...

I haven't seen Blancett, Amy Ryan, Tomei or Gainsborgh yet so my top five atm are Kidman, Morton (Control), Pfeiffer, Swinton and Maia Thomas (Noise).

El Gigante said...

I am shocked, SHOCKED that a second viewing didn't add anything for you Nate. If someone had told me a year ago that there would be a post on this site with hand wringing over a Todd Haynes film with a great performance by Cate Blanchett I would've called them a liar. Time truly does make fools of us all.

Anonymous said...

what about Kidman Nat? I thought she was pretty good in the golden compass... not even a semi-finalist of you.

I hope to see her in your Best Actress ballot for Margot At The Wedding

Robert said...

Oh there is still soo much to see, but yes I will share the names on my "nonexistant ballot"

Emily Mortimer - Gosling may be the star, but she makes Lars and the Real Girl work.

Tilda Swinton - the rehersal scenes in Michael Clayton really flesh out what could have been a typical villain

Kelly MacDonald - Just when you thought No Country for Old Men would going to tip the scales with too much grizzled manness

Jennifer Garner - a shock for me, I never expected her to be so talented or even to like Juno

Mary Louise Parker - this one probably seemes stupid to many. But her one short moment in TAoJJbtCRF (that would be the Assassionation of Jesse James...) is the first thing I think of when I think of that movie. It's practically the only moment of human emotion in it.

This is not having seen Atonement or I'm Not There Yet. But I have seen Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone... blech.

Anonymous said...

There was nothing fake about what Cate Blanchett did in "I'm Not There". It was one of the most breathtaking performances, male or female, of 2007, and I hope that she wins the Oscar for it.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

I'm making mine a constant, Nath (as in the gender combined categories) but I'll tell you as soon as it is up just before Oscar. :)

Oh and Sigourney screams "19 share motherf*cker!" Sorry, I think I'm the one who made that mistake during FYC entries.

(Are you going to have a "Cinematic Wishes for 2008" entry?)

Anonymous said...

Pleasantly surprised to see you came around to Blanchett's performance. Truly a wonder. I agree what you say about her in this post, how she is doing Dylan rather than being, but how it's a good thing - yet another reason why she IS as revered as she is: she *gets* things like that.

Anyway - nice lineup (and much better than last year's disappointing Film Bitch Supporting Actresses)! My personal one is:

SAOIRSE RONAN in Atonement
SUSAN SARANDON in In the Valley of Elah
TILDA SWINTON in Michael Clayton

With the award going to CATE BLANCHETT. Since I know she won't win yours, I guess I'll FYC TILDA SWINTON for the win!

Anonymous said...

Zoe Bell- Grindhouse
Jennifer Garner- Juno
Jennifer Jason Leigh- Margot..
Laura Linney- The Nanny Diaries
Leslie Mann- Knocked Up

Anonymous said...

Zoe Bell- Grindhouse
Jennifer Garner- Juno
Jennifer Jason Leigh- Margot..
Laura Linney- The Nanny Diaries
Leslie Mann- Knocked Up

Anonymous said...

"If I had a ballot" post:

Sally Hawkins, Cassandra's Dream
Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement
Cathetine Keener, Into the Wild
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton


Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement

Sid said...

Nat!!! Where's JJL? I was so sure she was getting a spot here... not even a mention???

adam k. said...

No JJL even in honorable mention either? And no Kidman? I thought for sure you'd mention her somewhere after all the gushing you did in your review of the film... though I myself found her merely good and somewhat undone by the muddledness of her film.

I'm also glad to see you coming around to Blanchett. She does have the advantage of being about the only one whose film doesn't sabatoge her in some way; it really knows what it has with her and gives her plentiful opportunities for glory. I personally like her in the film more than Charlotte Gainsborough (like most people).

I actually wrote a lot about "the last smile" in a paper about Todd Haynes. I can see why you don't connect as much with the film... the thing is, it's really SO Todd Haynes in terms of him taking his usual themes and finally doing something that feels positive and joyful. So it's new and exciting and rather monumental in that way. But without the depression, something's sort of... missing.

Anyway, I wonder who'll win? I'm guessing Tilda or Charlotte. Hmmm...

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you came round to Blanchett this time too - separating the work from her context as a (overly?) revered actress (I know your sympathies mostly lie with the underdogs!).

Lots of wonderful work this year in this category I thought - but I'm thinking it was a wonderful year for all cinemas and all categories - maybe I'm just feeling generous this year, I don't know. Except Original Score - I have five that I think are nom-worthy (Atonement, Lust, Blood, Silk, Becoming Jane) - but none beyond that.

Anyway my ballot for this category (if I only I had one) would read:

Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
Ruby Dee - American Gangster
Catherine Keener - Into the Wild
Vanessa Redgrave - Atonement
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton

...with Redgrave getting the vote for performance alone, Keener getting it if I was in the mood to do a very-un-PC-round-these-parts, AMPASy-career-honour-in-the-supporting categories kind of thing.

I'm sad that I don't have room for Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) or Samantha Morton (Control). Have yet to see Amy Ryan, Marisa Tomei, Imelda Staunton or Emily Mortimer, so things may change...

As for Gainsbourg - I think she was nice in I'm Not There, if underplaying it, but way better this year in her leading roles in Nuovomondo (Golden Door) and, especially, Prete-moi ta main (I Do).

Sid said...

My list would be:

Zoe Bell, Grindhouse
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Charlotte Gainsbourg, I'm Not There
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Still undecided about the winner though.

Anonymous said...

glad you stopped the cate hating totally she is acting rather than being but it is a fun perf to watch.

not seen tomoei but will tomorrow

so up till today here are my 5

1 blanchett
2 ronan
3 swinton
4 pfeiffer
5 sarandon

hon men


i am thinking atonement will be shut out in all majors yes supp actress too.

Kurtis O said...

Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement"
Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayotn"
Marisa Tomei, "Before the Devil..."
Leslie Mann, "Knocked Up"

With a shout-out of utter disdain for:
Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"
Where the hell did this onslaught of accolades come from? The showering of praise this merely adequate perf. is receiving is making me not want to re-watch the film.

Anonymous said...

Imelda Staunton (I knew I could count on you)
Vanessa Redgrave (I hope to see her in cameos)
Kelly McDonald (tiny but great)
Tilda Swinton
Marisa Tomei

Dave said...

I still have A LOT to see (very much looking forward to seeing Tomei soon), but as of now my shortlist would be Deborra-Lee Furness, Romola Garai, Vicky McClure (This Is England), Tilda Swinton and Kristen Thomson. I think.

I'll probably never get to see Amy Ryan seeing as British distributors are idiots, but seeing as nearly everyone is tearing it to pieces maybe that's not such a bad thing.

John T said...

I know I've had my problems with Michael Clayton, but Swinton is by far the biggest exception for me there-that final scene, her voice and posture flinching and yet not, it's just a tour de force.

I must admit that as far as who Claire was in I'm Not There, I had to think about it for a couple of minutes before I was actually there.

Anonymous said...

I wanna play! (I'm bored.)

Supporting Actress Preferences

Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"
Catherine Keener, "Into the Wild"
Leslie Mann, "Knocked Up"
Vanessa Redgrave, "Atonement"

Dame James said...

As of right now, my picks would be:

~Jennifer Garner, Juno
~Anna Kendrick, Rocket Science (Independent Spirit thing about the movie)
~Michelle Pfeiffer, Hairspray
~Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone (don't know where all the hate is coming from all of a sudden...she's only in it for 15 minutes or so, but she dominates that movie)
~Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

But, then again, I haven't seen four of your five nominees (I'm Not There hasn't come to my town, I missed Before the Devil..., and I'm not a Harry Potter fan- I might catch it now)

Anonymous said...

ok u lot just watched befiore the devil no idead were the tmoei praise is coming from she was adequate know where near her in the bedroom or unhook the stars work the person in that film deserving accolades and oscars is finney plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

and the face movements in the car as you say nat "wanting to be out of that car" come before hoffman says a word so it is impossible for it to be a reaction to what he is saying,did we watch the same film and perf,she has 2 ok scenes and thats it.


i'm fully aware that both Gainsbourg and Tomei are performances that are not consensus choices. Some people get into them and some people don't. I do know of other respectors of both I know i'm not entirely alone ;)

but with acting, a subjective art form, we all have different things we respond to or notice. These are my personal choices for "best" --maybe i read too much into Tomei's performance (one of the reasons I asked to interview her is because I had ideas about the performance that I wanted to see if she also held) and maybe others read too little into it ;)

and this is also the case with Gainsbourg I'm sure.

And Imelda Staunton, too. There are still MANY people in the universe who don't think fantasy / sci fi / horror films ever contain award worthy work. I am not one of those people.

I think STAUNTON most definitely did not get the memo from the POTTER Franchise that you don't have to be stellar. You just have to be British and do an adequate job and the costumes and fun and your own serious thesp reputation will carry your particular teacher/villain along. I'm not really trying to knock the other (many) actors in this franchise. But she is operating on a level that nobody else has in all five films. My opinion.

Glenn Dunks said...

Oh, yeah, no mention of Deborra-Lee Furness? That's sad...

Anonymous said...

Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone (don't know where all the hate is coming from all of a sudden...she's only in it for 15 minutes or so, but she dominates that movie)

The hate's coming from all of the undeserved critics awards she has this season, and how she just about has the Oscar sewn up, when it should be Cate Blanchett's instead.

Anonymous said...

My Nominations Would Be:

SUSAN SARANDON in In The Valley of Elah
TILDA SWINTON in Michael Clayton*(WINNER)

Honorable Mentions:
KELLY MACDONALD in No Country For Old Men
IMELDA STAUNTON in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

After I Saw Michael Clayton I was sure Tilda Swinton's performance deserved to win every award possible, and I still think that today. Every shot of her was filled to the brim with depth and intense characterization. We saw the effects of what Karen Crowder had done written in her face in each scene she had. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Could you say something about the Jennifer Jason Leigh snub?

Marcelo - Brazil.


I was never really behind the JJL performance in Margot anyway (if you'll recall from my earlier thoughts I was more into Kidman's turn) I think JJL was good but she wasn't in my top 20 this year.

for those who are curious about why certain people are missing. I'm limited myself to 10 to 12 people all told once you combine the nominees through the semifinalists.

Anonymous said...

Great list. My own looks like:

Kelly MacDonald (as the winner), then:

Charlotte Gainsbourg
Leslie Mann
Tilda Swinton

And I'm still deciding whether Knightley is lead or support. If lead: Blanchett's in there. If support: it's Knightley.

Scott said...

I haven't seen some of those discussed here (like Tomei), but from what I have seen this year my top 5 picks would be Tilda Swinton, Emily Moritmer, Sigourney Weaver, Margo Martindale and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Yeah, I know Martindale was only in a few minutes of Paris Je T'aime, and a lot of her work was narration - but she was divine. Completely, utterly perfect. And I'm honestly surprised Mortimer's performance hasn't attracted more attention. I thought she was outstanding.

CanadianKen said...

My five (alphabetically):
1.ROMOLA GARAI "Atonement"
3.AMY MADIGAN "Gone Baby Gone"
"Elizabeth:The Golden Age"

(with GARAI the winner)

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that neither Kidman for Golden Compass nor Leigh for Margot at the wedding were able to make it into your honorable mentions. I hope Kidman makes it for Margot though

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that neither Kidman for Golden Compass nor Leigh for Margot at the wedding were able to make it into your honorable mentions. I hope Kidman makes it for Margot though

Anonymous said...

i get u nat i did not get into your love for the 2 black dahlia supp perfs,no one understand my love for sharon warren in ray or gwyneth paltrow in the talented mr ripley,i usually have 1 perf in each category every year i get behind,one that is not nommed or raved about but had that something for me,loved finney in btdkyd.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to have seen Leslie Mann in "Knocked Up" get into the actual short-list.

Whatever you think about the overall film, everything positive the critics have been saying about it (heart behind the jokes, grown-up undertones in a juvenile comedy, etc.) she gives it.

Especially in that scene with Paul Rudd outside the fantasy baseball house. When her voice breaks and goes a tone higher into that whiney "trying not to cry" voice, I finally realised that I liked the film a lot more than I had been.

While I'm on the subject - Paul Rudd for Supporting Actor.

(I'm not a "Knocked Up" fanboy, by the way, I just thought those two were great in it.)

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you haven't fallen in love with I'm Not There. I think it's Haynes' best film (though I haven't seen Poison yet).

Right now, my nominees would be Blanchett, Vanessa Redgrave, Orla Fitzgerald, Saoirse Ronan, and Kelly Macdonald. If I nominated a performance from a sci-fi/fantasy film, I'd choose Rose Byrne's intriguing work from Sunshine.

My favourite performance from a Harry Potter film: easily David Thewlis from the Cuaron version.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

The most egregious snub to me is definitely Laura Vasiliu for 4 Months... (and I also fell for Luminita Gheorghious's cameo in it) - she played such a naive character so naturally and without a trace of condescension or begging for your love. If this performance wasn't subtitled (like a lot of this year's best work), I'm sure it wouldn't have been collectively ignored by awards bodies.

The only other Supporting Actress to truly blow me away was the Great Great Catherine Keener - understated as usual (and I love her for it) but even more piercing and resonant. She's fast becoming my favourite working American actress.

I also appreciated Kelly MacDonald (who usually irritates me) in No Country, Lesley Mann in Knocked Up, all of the girls in Offside as well as the nurse in Away from Her.

Otherwise, I've only seen three of your nominees - I found Gainsbourg adequate, Swinton solid as usual if unremarkable and Blanchett better than usual but far from legendary (she was charming but still not entirely unself-conscious at times where it would have helped if she was).

I'm sure Staunton was excellent in Harry Potter but I can't bring myself to watch the whole undoubtedly bloated thing just for her. I'm not a big Tomei fan but I am looking forward to her performance and Lumet's movie.

Anonymous said...

I am so ecstatic for the Staunton nod. I expected a semi-finalist mention at most, and seeing as she's my win I've never been happier with you :).

Here's my lineup.

01. Imelda Staunton, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
02. Kelly MacDonald, No Country for Old Men
03. Imogen Poots, 28 Weeks Later
04. Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There.
05. Romola Garai, Atonement

I don't completely get the Gainsbourgh love, but I'm happy for the recog. for an ignored performance. Imogen Poots is my Gainsbourgh, nobody cares for her... *sob*

I'd like to FYC Imelda, I've only seen her in HP5 and Vera Drake but she has easily mad eit into my top 15 actresses.


goran see I loved loved loved 4 MONTHS 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS but I'm not entirely sure what the fuss is over both Laura Vasiliu and the gentleman (can't look up the name right now) who won the LAFCA prize. To me that movie's power was all Christian Mungui's with a big boost from Anamaria Marinca.

oh, and the self-consciousness you describe about Blanchett's performance was exactly why I liked it better the second time. The first time I think I was too caught up in the typical reaction that greets these biopic performances "OMG. he/she is whomever!" but what's actually good and interesting about the performance is the layers of performance. I don't even think, the second time, that any of the performances are meant to be seamless approximations.

but anyway. wish i loved the movie. but i don't. And Arkaan... I'm shocked that you think it's his best film. I mean safe, far from heaven those are monumental pieces to try to top.

Anonymous said...

I madly loved I'm Not There - ok maybe not his best film - but surely an inventive - exploding with energy - and so perfect for the subject film - and my fav for the year - Blanchett was perfect - and I loved Gainsborough in the film too

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel, I realize my words are fighting ones. My perspective.

1. Far From Heaven hasn't held up. I remember your comparison of Lost in Translation with In the Mood for Love (both were the number three film of the year for you, but ITMFL was one of the all time greats, whereas LiT was simply a great film for the year). Far From Heaven was a great film, but when you actually sit down and see the Sirk films it's in homage to, there is just no comparison. The layers, codes etc in the Sirk films are just phenomenal to behold. FFH just doesn't hold up in comparison, and as a result, it hasn't grown with repeated viewings.

2. Safe is pretty fucking great. Richer with repeated viewings. Really close to a masterpiece, if not one already.

3. So why I'm Not There over Safe. Because it's simple more pleasurable to watch. It's supremely entertaining. The surface dazzle alone (the art direction, the cinematography, the music etc). But there's a richness of ideas there too (it may not coalesce neatly, but I can forgive that when there's so much awesomeness going on). I love how the statement "Live in your own time" echoed throughout (whether out loud or implicitly). I loved how the fractioning of identity functioned as both a thesis statement on Dylan and as a more general commentary on how the times, they are a changin'. I love how Haynes refused to venerate his subject, instead preferring to critique him. I love how Blanchett captures Dylan's prankster spirit and his asshole-y side as well (the smile she gives when she sees David Cross' Ginsberg is pitch perfect). I love that what could have been vapid art-fuckery becomes something so much more. I've seen it twice. It's a great combination of imagery, audio and ideas that I fell hard for.

Anonymous said...

My Picks for…


Cate Blanchett - I'M NOT THERE
Leslie Mann - KNOCKED UP