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Oscar Flashback: Supporting Actress 1998

Yesterday on twitter I ended up in a fun alternative Oscar argument with Joe, Julien, Will and Jacob and it was amusing because nobody agreed on anything...

Get your hands off ________'s rightful Oscar.

So let's expand that conversation to include TFE readers. If you'll recall had you lived through it or know the year went like so...

Winner: Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love (also won NSFC & BAFTA)
I'm actually fine with this win (from the nominee pool, I mean) though I'm aware many internet dwellers are very anti-Shakespeare in Love



  • Kathy Bates, Primary Colors (Chicago, BFCA & SAG winner)
  • Brenda Blethyn, Little Voice
  • Rachel Griffiths, Hilary & Jackie
  • Lynn Redgrave, Gods and Monsters (Spirit & Globe winner)


So that supporting shortlist was essentially one extended cameo (Judi), three normal size supporting roles (Kathy, Brenda, Lynn) and one co-lead title character (Rachel). My feeling is that it's a dull list even though the performances are relatively good (the only nomination I objected to wholeheartedly was Blethyn's) because it's too closely tied to knee-jerk Bait when there were more inspired more challenging performances available from supporting actresses that year, many of them a bit more off the well trodden period piece prestige path.

But what surprised me more was that nobody agreed on the "wish it'd been...". What a year it was for supporting actresses. Consider these names which came up.


  • Patty Clarkson, High Art
  • Toni Collette, The Velvet Goldmine
  • Imelda Staunton, Shakespeare in Love
  • Lisa Kudrow, The Opposite of Sex (NYFCC Winner, Spirit Nominee)
  • Kate Beckinsale, The Last Days of Disco
  • Julianne Moore, The Big Lebowski
  • Joan Allen, Pleasantville (OFCS, Boston, BFCA, LAFCA & Satellite winner)

    and still more no one mentioned last night on Twitter...
  • Kimberly Elise, Beloved (Satellite winner)
  • Thandie Newton, Beloved
  • Sharon Stone, The Mighty (Globe nominee) 
  • Christina Ricci, Buffalo '66, Opposite of Sex, Pecker (Florida winner)
  • Anne Heche, Psycho
  • The Lovely Laura Linney, The Truman Show


Mine would've gone like so: Winner - Clarkson; Nominees - Dench, Collette, Kudrow and...???

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Reader Comments (71)

That was a great year for supporting ladies.

Although, I believe Lynn Redgrave won the Globe.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

I still go with Judi Dench as the winner. The other nominees for me would have been Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, Lynn Redgrave, Christina Ricci (for Opposite of Sex).

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk


Fonda (A Simple Plan)

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill

P.S. I would have nominated Ricci for lead in Opposite of Sex

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill

yeah, Ricci was totally the lead of OPPOSITE OF SEX. and great in that one, too. glad she got a globe nod.

steve -- you're right. oops. i just fixed.

July 22, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Joan Allen, Lauren Ambrose (Can't Hardly Wait), Toni Collette, Judi Dench and Lisa Kudrow (with Allen winning).

And Ricci is lead in Opposite of Sex. I don't know how some crix. groups (like NBR) lumped that with her supporting work that year.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBigTed

I'm such a sucker for Pleasantville, and I love Joan Allen in it. Don't think it gets nearly as much respect these days as it deserves.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill H.

My choice would be Lynn Redgrave, hands down.

Her fellow nominees in my universe are Jane Birkin in 'A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries' and Paprika Steen in 'The Idiots' (although both would rather belong to extended-cameo-territory), as well as Kathy Bates in 'Primary Colors' and Lin Shaye in 'There's Something About Mary'.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

Christina's the lead in The Opposite of Sex — for someone hyper-sensitive category fraud (except with Meryl Streep: she's lead in Adaptation, supporting in Ironweed, One True Thing, The Devil Wears Prada, and a undeserved nominated for Music of the Heart ).

Now between Ricci and Oprah I'm evenly split — but depending on my mood and which performance I just seen it goes either way.

Supporting Actress was Kathy Bates for Primary Colors — she won a slew of critics prizes and the Golden Globes lost may have framed her fate for defeat at the Oscars, but the Jack Nicholson element must not be forgotten.

For argument sake Huston was the favorite going in — her breakup with Nicholson removed the Nicholson power tie from her and made it easy for them to be indifferent. Woodward's husband's victory and Tandy's victory put the monkey wrench in them going there. Streep would never win for a performance of an ordinary American woman and it being a comedy it would also be too soon for a third Oscar — Roberts' nomination was controversial but it shouldn't be since they gave Cher one for a performance not nearly as electrifying — good thing that made Julia wait — she didn't burnout in the end and won for her strongest nominated performance. Beatty, Lange, Hoffman, and possibly Jack?—backed Bates — one shot deal like most women winning Actress in their 40's — but the Academy held back the afterglow love — did the see the initial victory as a kind gesture to a character actress' breakthrough exposure? I've heard the Frankie and Johnny denial caused some sympathy votes!?

Jack's girls always win when he does and so Dench is denied for the sake of keeping the tradition ongoing — the Academy can be swift when an actress returns to them in Supporting after been invited to the Best Actress mountaintop. Bates third nomination was Jack related and her lost was too, since he campaigned for Polanski and Brody — no need to give Kathy a second in Supporting when his good friend Mike's wife can take it — if she needs another one Bates she can co-star with him again as a true lead.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

I unfortunately have yet to get around to a number of the films referenced here including several mentioned for actors I really enjoy: Clarkson, and Bates in particular.

Knee jerk reaction to the question I'd have to go with either Kudrow or Allen though partially because I'm trying to curb my bias for any-and-everything Big Lebowski.

This is fun! let's do this more often!

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCasey Fiore

I would've went with Joan Allen for Pleasantville.

But, wow, I always forget how Christina Ricci had that bananas arthouse year and then...nothing. So sad...

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBia

I remember cheering hard for Kudrow and being rather stunned that Allen and Kudrow hadn't joined Redgrave, Dench, and Bates in the winners circle.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Thandi Newton in 'Beloved' is major Oscar-bait, I'm surprised she hasn't been mentioned by anyone.

My favourite supporting actress of 98 was Laura Linney in 'The Truman Show'. As a 12 year old budding cinephile it was the first thing I had seen her in but I knew she was doing something really great with that role.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Jack

Can I go camp and nominate Rebecca Gayheart for Urban Legend? I love her crazy monologue at the climax, lololol.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSt. Valentine

Oh dear, why do you do this to me?!! I want so bad to make room for Patti and Toni, but I won't drop Rachel or Brenda!

I'm more than fine with Dench winning. I watch Shakespeare in Love once a year.

PS I love this whole "Get your hands off ________'s rightful Oscar." Which was yours?

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Kudrow, win.
Allen, nom.
Anne Heche - Psycho, nom.
Olivia Williams - Rushmore, nom.
Angelica Huston, Ever After, nom. (Yes, I'm serious. Ignore the film but watch her. Master class in making gold out of straw, like Redgrave in Letters to Juliet'.)

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

Many of my faves of that year have been mentioned, but I'd like to throw in nods to Parker Posey (You've Got Mail) and Laura Linney (The Truman Show) for good measure...

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuke

From Oscar's roster, my vote would probably go to Griffiths. Even though it's a pretty blatant case of category fraud (HILARY and Jackie), I remember her being particularly heartbreaking and genuinely moving. For me she was easily the strongest choice amid a list of semi-solid performances that made it seem as if '98 was a pretty lame year for supporting actresses.

My shortlist would definitely include Bates, who is wonderfully brash and bold throughout Primary Colors and then is totally dynamic in her final few scenes, as well as my personal winner Collette, who makes Mandy Slade so much fun in those flashback scenes and so unexpectedly solemn and pained in her scenes with Bale and that final confrontation with her husband.

Also, shout-out to Imelda Staunton, who was so amusing and delightful in her bit part, easily helping to make Shakespeare the formidable achievement that Oscar clearly assumed it was.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

Patricia Clarkson is unforgettable in High Art and Ally Sheedy is damn good as well. Both snubbed by Oscar.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermed

Redgrave is my winner, with Bates, Dench, Allen and Linney filling in the other four slots.
As much as I love her as an actress, Dench would still be Oscar-less in my books!

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

I'd go with Patricia Clarkson as the winner for 'High Art'- really, that would have been the perfect Oscar performance for her, so encapsulating of her greatest strengths. My other nominees would be Dench, Collette for Velvet Goldmine, and the Beloved Girls Kimberly Elise and Thandie Newton. It's funny, I feel like Dench's performance is such a slight bit of saccharine and it's odd that those 5 or so minutes are what gets her the Oscar, but I have a tough time saying she didn't deserve the Oscar compared to the other 4.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSean D

I really would vote for Rachel Griffiths, as I think she gives the best performance out of those five but it's such category fraud that I can't do it in good conscience. Dench is an ok winner but it reeked of making up for the year before when she truly deserved it and I detest those kind of make-up wins. But it would've been great had she won because she could've presented Ian McKellen with his rightful Best Actor award the year later. In an ideal world, of course. :P

Joan Allen and Lisa Kudrow (brilliant, my personal choice for the winner) should've absolutely replaced Blethyn and Griffiths. I remember being pretty bummed they both weren't nominated for such beautifully realized work. Added sting was Blethyn, who I normally like, was SO not even very good in Little Voice.

I would've nominated the comedic gold of Goddess Julianne in Lebowski in a second but I also would've nominated her the year before and after in that same category so I can let that one go.

I, too, am surprised no one gunned for Thandi Newton in Beloved. That was such a tricky, textured role that's more of concept than a character and she came away the highlight of that film.

Snaps for the Laura Linney in Truman Show, Angelica Huston in Ever After (inspired casting and she totally nailed it) and especially Imelda Staunton who did so much in SIL with such great character material from that amazing script.

BTW I totally would've made room for Ricci in Best Actress. Opposite of Sex still remains her best performance.

And I still haven't seen High Art. *ducks for tomatoes*

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

To Mark the First ---

And I still haven't seen High Art. *ducks for tomatoes*

med -- yeah. that movie was just too indie / rough for them. But both deserved nominations and maybe even wins.

July 22, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

As far as 90s movies go, 1998 is probably my weakest spot, I've seen the least movies from then. I'm generally fine with Judi's win, of the pool - and generally, too - but I'm so glad you bring up Imelda because I feel as if she not only got no love for the performance THEN but doesn't seem to be remembered often (if, at all). Next to the perfect romantic leads (yes, I said, perfect because SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is one of the finest romantic comedies of the last 20 years) she's my MVP. She's also the performer who gets the comedy the most (just above Judi, who does wonders with her short screen-time).

I ended up seeing BELOVED way late, and only because I was curious to see how it could work after studying the book for school and I still am not completely on board with the film and a few of the performances but Newton and Elise are so good (the best I've seen from the latter).

Also, Joan Allen - just because.

Griffith's shouldn't be there, but she's good. Why doesn't she do more film, again?

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

Kathy Bates would have been my winner. I watch Primary Colors (and Dave) every election cycle and her performance is brilliant from start to finish; she demands you watch her.

My other four nominees would have been:
Patricia Clarkson - High Art
Lisa Kudrow - The Opposite of Sex
Lynn Redgrave - Gods and Monsters
Laura Linney - The Truman Show

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjtagliere

My list:

Joan Allen, Pleasantville
Toni Collette, Velvet Goldmine
Claire Forlani, Meet Joe Black
Lisa Kudrow, The Opposite of Sex
Camryn Manheim, Happiness

Winner: Kudrow

and just because, here's my Best Actress list:

Jane Adams, Happiness
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth
Fernanda Montenegro, Central Station
Christina Ricci, The Opposite of Sex
Meryl Streep, One True Thing

Winner: Montenegro

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Winner - Laura Linney for The Truman Show (she nailed it, I can't belive she wasn't even nominated)
Christina Ricci for Buffalo'66 (cool, tragic and snarky)
Toni Collette for Velvet Goldmine (the grudge and the glam)
Joan Allen for Pleasantville (touching, hee)
Jennifer Tilly for Bride of Chucky (a blast)

Bur I didn't see High Art, The Opposite of Sex and The Last Days of Disco...

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterremy

Joan Allen (Pleasantville)
Kathy Bates (Primary Colors)
Patricia Clarkson (High Art)
**Toni Collette (Velvet Goldmine)**
Catherine Keener (Your Friends and Neighbors)

I do genuinely enjoy Dench quite a lot, just not enough to throw her a bone here.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

As much as I love Dench's cameo and her wonderful monologue wrap up of the movie near the end, it was just a cameo and Joan Allen did so much more in Pleasantville. I'd give Allen the award; nominating Redgrave, Griffiths, Bates (a close winner), and Elise over Newton for Beloved - only because Elise has the less showier role but you still feel invested in her character's storyline. In a less competitive year, Newton's take on Linda Blair's The Exorcist could have gotten a nod I guess.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames

The online hate for Shakespeare in Love is so sad to me. I find it a beautifully shot, well-acted, well-designed, and wittily written film. Why must it of all films attract so much ire, and why is it that Oscar-nominated comedies always attract a backlash (and not from stodgy Academy members, but from online Oscar fans!)?

I love Judi Dench's performance in SiL and looking at your alternates list, am trying to remember if Imelda Staunton even talks in the film. Certainly nothing as memorable as Dench's lines.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

From the nominees it would be Lynn Redgrave in a walk.
From all the supporting performances that year I would give it to Joan Allen for her beautiful work in Pleasantville with Lynn just a step behind. A tie would be the best case scenario.

My 5 nominees would be:
Joan Allen-Pleasantville
Lynn Redgrave-Gods and Monsters
Kathy Bates-Primary Colors
Angelica Huston-Ever After
Jacqueline Bisset-Dangerous Beauty

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6


I will, I shall! I haven't seen much of Cholodenko's work beyond TKAAR and some bits of Laurel Canyon which I remember responding negatively to but High Art sounds interesting and bonus that it's streaming from Netflix. Soon!

Andrew K. -- Griffiths is fantastic in the few key film roles she has had (I would've made her a sure-bet nominee for Muriel's Wedding in '95, she was great in that) but she seems much more at ease with a tv career since she's worked there almost exclusively for the 00s, save some small film projects. But yeah, a big director needs to rediscover her again, she's amazing. And actually, she was rather excellent on SFU but needs to stay away from middle-of-the-road time-wasters like Brothers & Sisters. She's better than that.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

I don't think my winner's bene mentioned yet - Olivia Williams for Rushmore. She's followed closely by Joan Allen in Pleasantville.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterben

Allen, Clarkson, Dench, Heche, Kudrow. Although I just don't remember much of "The Velvet Goldmine" so Collette may make it in if I were to rewatch it. That being said, I really like Bates and think it's kinda cool that Rachel Griffiths can call herself an Oscar nominee so when Collette was nominated a year later for "The Sixth Sense" it was like our favourite tag team of Aussie gals from "Muriel's Wedding" had pulled off this crazy Hollywood coup.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

^ Yeah, that was pretty cool, Glenn. Very fluky too since Collette was so clearly the 5th nominee there, replacing Diaz at the last second if I recall.

Still, I love that they both can indeed call themselves Oscar nominees.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

Oh, how I miss StinkyLulu's Smackdowns... Of these five, my guess is that Bates would hold up nicely after 14 years, though I remember rooting for Redgrave at the time. I haven't seen any of these films since they were released.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterzig

Celebrity - Winona Ryder
Festen - Paprika Steen
Gods and Monsters - Lynn Redgrave
High Art - Patricia Clarkson
The Opposite of Sex - Lisa Kudrow

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Joan Allen - Pleasantville (winner)
Patrica Clarkson - High Art
Toni Collette - Velvet Goldmine
Judi Dench - Shakespeare in Love
The Lovely Laura Linney - The Truman Show

(I had Griffiths in the lead category)

Of the official nominees I'm glad Dench won; still amazed Allen didn't make it in and horrified that Blethyn did

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

Thanks for mentioning me, Nate, even if my contribution was slight. :)

I have unfortunately seen very few of these movies, but I love most of the performances I have seen. Truly do not understand the Judi hype, because Imelda stole every damn scene she had, as far as I'm concerned. Nothing too weighty, certainly, but her comic timing is crazy precise.

Love Patty and Joan Allen too. Don't remember how good Linney is (probably great, I'm sure).

God, I need to see these movies.

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacob D

I wished more love for Moore, Elise, Allen, Kudrow, Clarkson, Ricci, Stone...and less love for Griffith and Blethyn....I was OK with Dench's winning (even if it was a cameo) but probably for her unfair loss the previous year

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

So glad bridget fonda's over looked work in a simple plan was noted by someone,she doesn't get props for some great film anchoring work,agreed on blethyn it is such a terrible performance,she goes for ott and makes it totally unbelievable.

my 98 nominess


and my nest 5.

johannsoon- the horse whisperer

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermark

Collette/Velvet Goldmine
Kudrow/The Opposite of Sex
Redgrave/Gods and Monsters
Thompson/Primary Colors

But this is hard...I could easily swap out one or two of the above for either of the following

Campbell/Wild Things
Dench/Shakespeare in Love
Moore/The Big Lebowski

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

I would have given it to Griffiths (that final scene is just astonishing) or Clarkson (who else can give a truly sad but funny performance at the same time).

What I remember most about that year was Blethyn at the Oscars saying that she didn't deserve to be there, particularly since Horrocks was not nominated for LV. I thought that showed real class.

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Loved this category, but the Academy screwed it royally. My list: Joan Allen, Kathy Bates, Kimberly Elise, Lisa Kudrow, Laura Linney. Kudrow should take it, but Bates was easily my favorite nominee. Thandie Newton should have a Razzie for one of the worst performances I've ever seen.

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

I found Bates to be a mere cliche, while Thompson in the same film was wonderful!

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Beat you to it, Ben ;)

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

I, too, have yet to see High Art, a fact of which I am ashamed given my adoration of Patricia Clarkson and deep abiding love of Ally Sheedy. I also haven't seen Velvet Goldmine in years and don't really remember Collette in it, but at the time I saw it I was so focused on EWAN! that I hardly noticed anything else.

I still think Dench is the rightful winner of that Oscar given the nominees (and Shakespeare in Love really is one of the greatest romantic comedies Hollywood has ever produced and I cannot stand the hate it gets). But, given what I've seen, my list would look something like this:

Joan Allen (Pleasantville)
Kathy Bates (Primary Colors)
Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love)
Lisa Kudrow (The Opposite of Sex)
Laura Linney (The Truman Show)
Lynn Redgrave (Gods and Monsters)

Yes, I would have an expanded category; I really can't decide and hurts enough to leave out Anjelica Huston (SO glad to see the praise she's getting here for Ever After, which is so deserved), Christina Ricci in Buffalo '66 (who should have WON the Lead Oscar for Opposite of Sex), and Emma Thompson in Primary Colors (which I haven't seen since it came out but I remember fondly).

98 was such a weird Oscar year. I'm still baffled at the almost complete lack of love for The Truman Show, which has only grown in my estimation since it came out (and was my second favorite film of the year behind Shakespeare). Carrey really should have won Lead Actor and Linney is so. Damn. GOOD. in it. Her breakdown scene is priceless. And Pleasantville is such an enduring pleasure that I wish it had gotten more love (and frankly, Reese Witherspoon is in my next tier of Supporting Actress contenders, along with Anne Heche).

This is fun! Make this a recurring feature!

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Oh! And I forgot to say that Imelda Staunton is SO freaking funny in Shakespeare in Love, but it's almost more of a cameo part than Judi's. But, yeah, talk about taking a bit part and running with it!

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Winner: Joan Allen.

Nominees: Linney, Burke (Elizabeth), Sciorra (What Dreams May Come), Griffiths.

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGustavo

I probably would have given it to Joan Allen (she doesn't get cast in high-profile roles so much anymore, but it's ridiculous she never won an Oscar - she almost belongs in that Bening/Moore category IMO), but Beckinsale, Clarkson and Kudrow should have been nominated. I LOVE The Last Days of Disco, such a well-written, keenly observed movie.

I guess Dench was a fine winner among the nominees, even though it was such a brief performance. I think Bates probably gave the best performance, but Dench's Oscar was basically a "career Oscar" rather than a "performance Oscar" in this case, and there was some impact from her snubbing the year before. Dench was my favorite thing about SiL regardless.

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne
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