Oscar Coverage: Best Supporting Actress

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We continue our countdown of the main Oscar categories with Best Supporting Actress, a category that seems all sealed up for Hathaway but has even richer performances beyond such an obviously tremendous performance at its core.

 

Who’s nominated?

Amy Adams, “The Master”

Sally Field, “Lincoln”

Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”

Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”

Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”

 

What do I think?

 

If I had to rank the nominees it would go 1) Hunt, 2) Field, 3) Adams, 4) Hathaway, 5) Weaver.

 

I guess by the rankings you’ve figured out I’m not a fan of Hathaway’s gargantuan performance, nor am I a fan of “Les Miserables” as a whole. I don’t think any of the actors in “Les Miserables” are well served by Tom Hooper’s direction, not even Hathaway. That’s not to say that I think Hathaway’s misfire is all Hooper’s fault. (Even under such monotonous direction, I thought Jackman very ably situated himself under the mess of it, and escaped nearly unscathed, but that’s a topic for another post). Watching Hathaway felt like watching an actress attempt to deliver a transcendent, soul-wrenching performance rather than actually give one. She acts in a way such that we observe her acting, although I got the sense that Hathaway as a performer believed she had immersed herself fully into the role. On the surface, it looks great, but nothing about it stuck with me. I like the other four performances, and recommend them with varying degrees of enthusiasm. I thought Hunt was brilliant in “The Sessions,” although I think she’s in the wrong category (she belongs up with the leads). The role of Cheryl is a complicated and tricky part, but Hunt slips into the character so nimbly, and her acting choices seem so smart and effortless. Field might be several inches shorter than Daniel Day-Lewis, but she certainly steps up to his level, delivering small but marvelous work. My impression of Adams has shifted so much since I first saw “The Master.” Her approach to the character was intriguing, but I was never able to shake the thought that she’d been miscast. Subsequent viewings have not really eradicated that last opinion entirely, but my impression of her has certainly grown — if Anderson mishandles any of the characters in his film, it’s definitely her role, which does nothing to help Adams in finding the character. Weaver… well, all she does in “Silver Linings Playbook” is look nervous about the chaos the rest of the cast perpetuate; but at least she does it very well.

Who got snubbed?

 

Judging by the awards season, there were three other ladies who definitely had a shot at a spot on Oscar’s list. Nicole Kidman scored nods with both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild for her work in “The Paperboy,” but Oscar just didn’t bite. I’m guessing the perverse nature of the film and Kidman’s trashy whore just didn’t correlate with Oscar’s taste. Anyway, Kidman’s brilliance in the role is her own reward (and ours obviously). The two other women were Maggie Smith for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and Ann Dowd for “Compliance.” There was probably too much Maggie Smith overload underneath all that “Downtown Abbey” craze bubbling and probably not enough of an Ann Dowd fanbase out there. Whatever the case with the Oscars, all of these ladies have their passionate devotees and all were certainly memorable on different levels.

 

Who will win?

 

Hathaway…no contest.

 

My Ballot (In Alpha Order)

 

  1. Emily Blunt, “Looper,” because she exudes a palpable shift in mood and thought every five seconds, while still maintaing a strong foothold and anxiety over things happening around her.
  2. Blythe Danner, “Hello I Must Be Going,” because her motherly concern feels genuine rather than weighty, and her fondness for luxury, sense of family ties and unease over her husband’s retirement all feel so real.
  3. Nicole Kidman, “The Paperboy,” because even if Charlotte Bless is a case study on vulgarity, Kidman’s acting choices feel bold rather than coarse. Her dazzling charisma and technique come together into a cohesive and fascinating character.
  4. Diane Kruger, “Farewell, My Queen,” because she takes an oft-acted historical figure and makes it her own. She endows this narcissistic queen with unconscionable selfishness but also an astonishing charisma, so we understand why the film’s protagonist (and everyone around her for that matter) is so intrigued and possessed by her.
  5. Lorraine Toussaint, “Middle of Nowhere,” because the moment she walks onscreen we know that the whole one-woman act that just sort of has been lagging so far is about to get kick-started into something very memorable… and it does.