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« Tribeca: "Zero Motivation," Winner of Best Narrative Feature | Main | Tribeca: Five Films From Midnight »
Thursday
Apr242014

Supporting Smackdown '03: Holly, Marcia, Patty, Renée & Shohreh

For the latest edition of StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Smackdown -- which was delayed for reasons I won't bore you with again --  Stinky and I welcome you to a much-discussed Oscar contest, ten years back. This was not, as we've rediscovered, a particularly strong vintage despite a certain nostalgic pull for any storied shortlist that combines five very distinct performers. The truth of it is that most of 2003's acting races were messy affairs with little precursor agreement or too much of it. Further complicating matters was a mix of various stages of career momentum, a frontrunning film without any acting bids (Return of the King), and that semi-annual deadly combo that always mucks with Academy discernment: weak prestige pieces and much of the best work occuring in genres Oscar doesn't care for. The Best Actress race, for example, was historic but totally odd and disatisfying, and Best Supporting Actress coalesced around these five players...

THE NOMINEES


Shohreh Aghdashloo, a "discovery" at 51 though she was already famous in Iran, and previously snubbed character actress sensation Patricia Clarkson were the first timers. Oscar winners Marcia Gay Harden and Holly Hunter were also included for anchoring gritty dramas as desperately confused mothers. And finally Renée Zellweger, the eventual winner, on her third consecutive nomination but her first for a drama after two lead nominations for popular comedies. (All legitimately supporting roles. That doesn't happen over a whole supporting field anymore)

You know who won the Oscar but who will win the Smackdown? Read on...

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS

Nick Davis, Guy Lodge, Joe Reid, Nathaniel R, Tim Robey, Stinkylulu and You (we tabulate reader votes as well and quotes from your ballots appear).

2003
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN

 

SHOHREH AGHDASHLOO as "Nadi" in House of Sand and Fog
Synopsis: A regal Iranian wife fears becoming no better than a gypsy in her new country when her husband buys a home to flip
Stats: Then 51 yrs old. First nomination! 32 minutes of screen time (or 25% of running time). 

Nick: Like many of these nominees, suffers from vague writing. Nadi manifests high, sudden tempers but also scared docility, acute intuition and totally perplexity. Perelman’s script obscures how pill-dependent Nadi is, how depressed, how excited or not about the new house. These could play as fascinating paradoxes, but the slightly stiff Aghdashloo doesn’t suture these disparate impressions. Charismatic, deft at playing awkward exchanges, but her Nadi never fully comes into view. ♥♥

Guy: An exemplary Best Supporting Actress nominee, in that it’s genuinely unforeseen, perceptive character work from the sidelines that valuably enhances the work of the lead – and yet the performance itself isn’t quite as vital as I’d remembered. I love that she’s out to build scenes, not steal them, but the script too quickly corners her into noble stances of pride and anger: I’d like to hang out with her a bit more.  ♥♥♥

Joe: The trembling subservience of Nadi at times threatens to infantilize her, but Aghdashloo pulls the character's feet out of the fire, time and again. The scene where she insists Kathy write down what she's saying; the bathtub incident. The intersection of pride and helplessness inside her helps fill in the blanks for Ben Kingsley's character. In that respect, she acts as classic support, for Kingsley, for Jennifer Connelly, even for poor, inept Ron Eldard. ♥♥♥

Nathaniel: We see her three times before she gets a line (it’s a sizeable role but not at all what I remembered and rarely the focus or even in focus) already a victim of the movie’s distracting ‘this equals that’ cross-cutting. The regal actress nails her key moments on the strength of screen presence. She often seems to be reacting to the previous thing that occurred (I love the delayed acqueisence to her husband’s petulant demands) rather than keeping pace with the scenes, which is a smart touch for a character so completely thrown by cultural barriers and her husband's secret crisis. ♥♥♥

Readers: "Doing more with small gestures and shaded vocal intonations that most actresses could do with pages of dialogue you ache for her gentle character and remember her long after the film is over. Appalling that she hasn't been better utilized in the years since." - Joel  (reader avg: ♥♥♥¾

Tim: The movie sinks faster each time I go back, but Aghdashloo totally holds her head above the rising peasouper. Particularly good as a smiling but speechless hostess, she presents a figure of believable contradictions – furious only at her Behrani, meek and terrified in every other way. Good, bulwark playing, lacking only the third-act chances to bump her up a ♥. ♥♥♥

StinkyLulu: In the decade since I first saw this film, I forgot pretty much everything about it — except Shohreh Aghdashloo’s face. Her capacity to convey who this specific woman was, who she is, and who she’s terrified of becoming — all with a single look. Yes, Kingsley and Connelly churn with meticulously angsty conflict, but it’s the often wordless eloquence of Aghdashloo’s Nadi that makes this movie the tragedy it is. ♥♥♥♥♥

Actress earns 22¾ ❤s

 

PATRICIA CLARKSON as "Joy Burns" in Pieces of April
Synopsis: a dying cancer patient takes a road trip to visit her daughter for Thanksgiving dinner
Stats: Then 44 yrs old. First nomination!
(apologies. forgot to record screen time). 

Nick: Depressing to award Clarkson one star, but what can you do? She’s stuck in a horrendous experimental film, omitting human behavior as strenuously as The Artist omits dialogue. Clarkson doesn’t (and couldn’t) make the script worse, but Joy never jells. She doesn’t seem about to die. Her prickly, often appalling comments are sitcommy insincerities. Her despondent roadside breakdown is totally rigged. Her jokes aren’t that funny. Her epiphany is unfathomable. 

Guy: If I were thinking like an Oscar voter, I’d give Patricia Clarkson five hearts just for being Patricia Damn Clarkson, not watch this wretched movie, and be done with it. But this isn’t even valiant slumming: she has a dry way with a quip, rolls her eyes probably more than the script instructed, and suggests not one new thing about her character from first scene to last. It’s the performance the film deserves, but...  ♥♥

Joe: You guys, I just don't know. She's not particularly terrible, given the material she was given and the film surrounding her, but this is not the kind of "overcoming bad material" that sometimes characterizes a nominee. There are moments when Joy's frustration and impish sense of humor peek through, but just as often they're blown up by a script and by direction that don't want to let Clarkson's acting speak for itself. 

Nathaniel: We shouldn’t grade on a curve but it’s difficult to imagine why the Academy saw fit to bestow this great actress with her sole Oscar nomination for a turn this unchallenging. It asks so little of her beyond gallows humor and deadpan pathos both of which she hits hard like a concert pianist bored and angrily plinking on a child’s toy keyboard. Joy's face is sometimes completely blank – I imagine Patty was dreaming of her other films and the fertile soil they gave her to grow whole characters in. ♥♥

Readers: "A wonderful biting performance but I wish she had been nominated for her wonderful work in The Station Agent instead." - Chris D. (reader avg: ♥♥♥

Tim: Can’t save a wretchedly sketchy picture – of all things, Clarkson got in for this? – but nor does she do it any great disservice. Never has opportunities to sculpt much detail, but little moments here and there, especially her silent bathroom check-in, suggest where she may have taken the part in a better context. At least Joy seems as bored with every other character as we are.  ♥♥

StinkyLulu: The role prevents Clarkson from drawing upon the knowing sensitivity that is perhaps her greatest actressing strength. Perhaps as a result, Clarkson’s Joy (check that irony!) relies on her other gift for acid line-readings to make this woman (whose disposition is as discomfiting as her wig) almost believable. Still, Clarkson’s abiding soulfulness shines through, so I never quite buy her as this particular monster mother.  ♥♥♥

Actress earns 14 ❤s

 

MARCIA GAY HARDEN as "Celeste Boyle" in Mystic River
Synopsis: a confused wife begins to question her husband's sanity and innocence when she learns a friend's daughter was killed one night while he was out.
Stats: 44 yrs old. 2nd nomination after a surprise win three years prior. 21½ minutes of screen time (or 16% of running time). 

Nick: That brow! Those features! Harden sometimes appears to overact even before she speaks or gestures. That wordless interlude where she tremulously passes silverware to Katie’s mourners while clocking her shaky husband summarize everything that’s overdone about Harden’s Celeste but also what’s special about her. She seems gripped by real emotions, if maybe too emphatic about them, while other castmates get mired in accents or unsellable affectations. Her finale is spellbinding. ♥♥♥

Guy: I recall a number of people being surprised by this nomination, and me not being among them –  revisiting it ten years later, I’m still not. More than anyone, I think, in this wildly mixed ensemble, Harden gets the key of earnest but heightened intensity Eastwood is going for: the sheer fretfulness of the performance, with all that darting and hand-wringing, is contagious, which should be more of a compliment than it sounds. ♥♥♥

Joe: Harden is -- like all the actors in this film, to one degree or another -- hamstrung by a character who doesn't make much sense. In all the scenes she shares with Tim Robbins, the audience gets zero indication of what their marriage was like before The Incident. Part of that is the film's fault, and part of that is on Robbins, but Harden doesn't exactly spin straw into gold either. She's far more effective in her scenes with Penn, but there are one too many scenes of wide-eyed, telegraphed horror for her own good. ♥♥

Nathaniel: The women in Mystic River are pointedly mute, through death, narrative disinterest or, well, "other" (I can't with those phone calls) but she manages to find a character within the rigid confines of skittish meekness. It's as if each sentence is a reckless toe stuck in water that might scald her as her hands and arms reflexively cross her body in protection (her husband isn't the only one who's been manhandled). Harden is very smart about how dumb to play her, Celeste's eyes widening in full horror but half-comprehension.  ♥♥♥♥

Readers: "River is often too lurid and grandiose but Harden brings this high-headedness down to real, quaking life. She's a bit shaky when it comes to Celeste's almost impetuous stupidity, but she's tremendous at building an arc for her character... setting the seeds for that horrifying stagger through the parade." - Matthew Eng (reader avg: ♥♥♥

Tim: Harden’s best when she’s ferocious, and crumpling, confused Celeste is never really playing to her strengths. Even so, she strives to make the best of a non-ideal situation, finding a genuine arc in a role that might have been flat and functional. Points for holding it together opposite Robbins, and giving the coda what shivery charge it has; still, only just worth a nom. ♥♥♥

StinkyLulu: Harden’s wracked-with-worry Celeste reminds me so of Maureen Stapleton’s nominated turn in Airport (1970), as that other wife terrified that her husband might be responsible for something awful. Like Stapleton then, Harden here is a workhorse, driving the narrative tension — introducing, then escalating, the devastating suspicion that implicates her husband. Harden’s is a haunting, efficient performance — one that this tautly-managed mystery needs in order to work. ♥♥♥

Actress earns 21 ❤s

 

HOLLY HUNTER as "Melanie" in Thirteen
Synopsis: a recovering alcoholic realizes her daughter is descending into cutting and drug use
Stats: Then 45 yrs old. Fourth nomination after a win ten years earlier! 44 minutes of screen time (or 44% of running time). 

Nick: Incorporates Hunter’s real-life persona: spry but laidback; naturally but self-consciously sexy; unpretentious but whipsmart; centered but volatile. Then again, Hunter submerges her Southernness, flirts atypically with self-delusion, and conveys thirteen tortuous years of parenting despite having rarely played mothers. Her underplaying—of single lines, of the former addict’s desperation—tempers her film’s and castmates’ excesses. An epitome of supporting actressing, grounding the film and making it work without pulling focus. ♥♥♥♥

Guy: The film hasn’t aged well: what once seemed nervy and hell-for-leather now reads a bit tawdry and smug, and I was worried the same would go for Hunter’s performance. It doesn’t: she’s still a lightning bolt of authentically frayed energy in a designer-distressed environment. I love how she balances the beseeching desperation of any teen’s parent with flickers of almost envious recognition, one bad girl to another.  ♥♥♥♥

Joe: Hunter does such a great job conveying the inconsistent jumble that is Melanie's parenting strategy. She sways from meekly ingratiating "cool mom" to naggy suspicion without ever once stepping over the line into plot service. She and Evan Rachel Wood make for a natural/combustible duo, and it's in her raw helplessness that Thirteen finds its non-exploitive reason for being. ♥♥♥♥♥

Nathaniel: Hunter gifts her Bohemian mom with such vivid interior life that there isn’t one scene where she’s not multi-tasking as she tracks the strange new temperatures of her daughter in the room. Mel is so many people: “hot big sister,” chill friend, recovering addict, tactile mom, overextended friend. Her many selves braid together as tightly as she holds her daughter in the intervention climax. Hardwicke didn’t need a shaky-cam;  Holly makes the whole film vibrate with raw feeling. ♥♥♥♥♥

Readers: "Eloquently conveys the predicament of a mother torn between tightening her grip on her obstinate daughter and the fear that disciplining her will only push her further away. Hunter’s performance is remarkable ... she single-handedly elevates an otherwise mediocre film." - Cameron (reader avg: ♥♥♥♥

Tim: Jeremy Sisto is Sorry, distracted. While not always helped by the fickle editing, Hunter makes working motherhood multi-dimensional and practically defines generous, movie-elevating support here. Wood’s constantly better in their scenes than elsewhere, and Holly’s gifts with rapidly communicative close-ups of shock and hurt are aces up Hardwicke’s sleeve.  ♥♥♥♥

StinkyLulu: The film creaks as noisily as one those afterschool specials I grew up with, but Holly Hunter’s performance endures. Few can play paradox as plausibly and as palpably as Hunter. She’s utterly vulnerable yet steely strong. Steady yet equivocal. Terrified yet brave. In a film that delights in letting the girls run wild, Hunter’s incomparable grip holds the reins, helping me both to understand and to care. ♥♥♥♥♥

Actress earns 31 ❤s

 

RENEE ZELLWEGER as "Ruby" in Cold Mountain
Synopsis: a weird tactless hillbilly comes to the rescue of a dainty southern belle during the Civil War arming her with farming and survival skills.
Stats: Then 34 yrs old. Third consecutive nomination. 36½ minutes of screen time (or 24% of running time). 

Nick: To be fair, virtually everyone in Cold Mountain flails with Charles Frazier’s marble-mouthed dialogue, facing insuperable hurdles in passing off prolix conceits as human characters (though I love Law).  As Minghella mandated across the board, Zellweger slathers on a “Carolina” accent that fools nobody. But those uninflected line readings, graceless movements, jutting grimaces, opaque close-ups, and garish stabs at comedy? Zellweger’s alone to answer for. She squashes every conceivable nuance. 

Guy: Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! Zellweger strides into this slightly porridgey movie with a sense of purpose, as if she knows there’s livening-up to be done – and that’s the only correct call she makes here. For it’s the wrong kind of livening-up: all movement and exclamation and grimacing, and no inner life or logic from one scene to the next. Comic relief should never look like this much work.  

Joe: Oh, Renée. My impression of her performance in Cold Mountain is the same after this recent rewatch as it was the first time around: in a film with as many dead spots and lulls as this one, I was incredibly thankful whenever Ruby bushwhacked her way onto the screen. It's a complete cartoon turn in a film that needed to adapt to her wavelength way more or way less. Seen in a vacuum, it's every bit as terrible as people say it is. In the context of the movie, it's a more welcome -- if not trophy-worthy -- distraction. ♥♥

Nathaniel: Ruby has enough tics in the writing from truthy catchphrases to vocalized spelling / counting that the only reasonable approach is minimalist; let the character play itself. Instead Renee doubles down on mannerisms:  robotically jerky arms (akimbo or swinging), bird-like head-tilting, lip pursing, and so much more. My favorite note in the performance is the way her frantic face-pulling stops abruptly whenever music plays. Music soothes the savage beast. But which beast? Ruby is neither recognizably animal nor human. What remains is some kind of unholy hybrid species: Thespian Extremus.

Readers: "People just jumped on the bandwagon and exaggerated how awful her performance was. She is in fact the best part of the movie.  Based on her physicality, I believed she could survive in the Carolina wilderness.  Her best moments are the quiet ones with Kidman though..." - Tom G (reader avg: ♥¾

Tim: Is it even worth saying? Stomps in, stomps out of scenes with the same muddy-boots emphasis on every last line. Works the comedy in with a trowel. Somehow both inadequately defined and very specifically disastrous. A rare, cloth-eared failure when it comes to Minghella’s casting instincts. Makes NO sense, not even Renéesense. I’d rather she had an Oscar for Case 39

StinkyLulu: It’s one of the enduring mysteries of Supporting Actressness: whose idea was it to give Ruby Thewes that mouth? With that upperlip cramping ever upward, as if sprained by a lifetime of eating corn through a barbed-wire fence? And without even a bucky dental appliance to justify it? Though Zellwegger invests Ruby with a sensible and even sensitive emotional arc, those HeeHaw externals foul what might have been a worthy performance. ♥♥

Actress earns 9¾ ❤s

AND THE SMACKDOWN GOES TO... 

Oscar chose Renée, surely due to career momentum. (When it's time it's time, damn the actual performances!) But the Smackdown gives the prize wholeheartedly to... Holly Hunter in Thirteen

 

Thank you for attending! 
If you enjoyed it, share it on facebook or twitter or other social media sites. Surely you have a friend who you saw some of these movies with you ten years ago! If you're new to the Smackdown we've revisited 1968's sinister sapphics, September's 1980's warm hugs, and 1952's pie-throwing brawl plus the old archives @ StinkyLulu

you might also want to read the "introducing" piece that features each of these nominees first scenes in their movie

What's next for the Smackdown?
Despite the long looooong wait for this one, we'd like to continue if you'll forgive us. Let me think on a year we should revisit and get back to you. I'll try to choose something with less than five films represented to ease us back in less painfully

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Reader Comments (85)

Oh, poor Renée. I think she's easily, far and away the best of the nominees. I'd say it's Hunter, who despite having some really great moments, stomps in and out of her film. Zellweger completely grabs her film and role by the balls and injects it insane amounts of energy the movie lacked up until them. Only reason I'm able to stand with Kidman in what's possibly one of her dullest performances for another hour is Zellweger. Appropriately and gloriously over the top and loud.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

steve -- i agree that Kidman is dull in Cold Mountain. but that's as far as I can agree.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

I'm sure that if the Academy could retroactively award a winner in this category for this year, Zellweger would still be a three-time nominee. I'm not surprised that her work doesn't hold up well because it was never good to begin with. It's somewhat odd how the majority of these nominees represent films towards which I was either ambivalent ("Pieces of April") or flat out disliked (everything else besides "House of Sand and Fog"). The irony is that I do think most of them exemplify the best of their respective movies. My heart still belongs to Aghdashloo, though, as I love it when an unknown surprises everyone with a that kind of performance.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Nobody told Renée they were all whispering - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE4dyN4tPqo

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAgent69

Holly Hunter is not even the best supporting in that movie (if you consider Nikki Reed supporting... however, Deborah Kara Unger is definitely supporting but it's still more than what Hunter does) neither is Gay Harden (Laura Linney is). Natalie Portman gives one of the three performances I've only liked of her (the others are "Closer" and "Léon") and the best performance of "Cold Mountain". Anyway, for me it's a tie between Aghdashloo (I thought it was gonna be the default winner) and Clarkson (yes, I like that performance unlike people here).

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

Finally! You never did actually bore us with reasons though. You just said "I won't bore you with reasons". I want to be bored with reasons.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMia

Have only seen two, but thank you. These Smackdowns are timeless and priceless and amazing. (Nit pick - 3/4ths of a star?? Just round 'em upppp)

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

Yay- I so happy to see this! I knew Renee would not get a lot of love (I was rooting for Marcia) but I am surprised that Holly Hunter won by so much- almost 10 points.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom

Great to see the Smackdown is back! 2003 is a surprisingly blah year. Hunter is a good choice for the win, though I enjoyed Harden in her film. I've seen all the nominees except the winner and it doesn't really sound like I'm missing much haha

My suggestions for the next smackdown -- 1963, 1994, or 2001 :D

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick T.

I'm a bit surprised at the outcome, I expected Shohreh Aghdashloo to take it by a considerable margin. I thought Hunter's performance was the best part of the awful film it was in but still not the best. She'd be my second choice though but no one was more memorable than Shohreh.

I knew Zellweger would come in dead last because she was horrendous but I'm surprised she wasn't anointed the new Stinkress. Her performance was without question far worse than Ingrid Bergman's mousy turn as Greta in Murder on the Orient Express. You can watch that film and performance and question it winning an Oscar, which even Ingrid didn't think she deserved, without cringing, the same is impossible with Zellweger's clownish interpretation of her part.

Look forward to seeing what year you pick next.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

So happy to see this too! Welcome back and come back soon!

At the time, I would have given it to Aghdashloo for the film and her work on TV in Season 2 on "24". Since then, I would give it to Clarkson (how did they miss her for "Far From Heaven"?) since she is consistently working and working well in films.

But I really didn't think much of any of these films. Christina Ricci, ScarJo, Emma Thompson. What were they doing that year?

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I'm one of the few that actually loves Clarkson in Pieces of April.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I knew Renee wouldn't win this but I think she is amazing in Cold Mountain. She gave the film a new life the moment she appeared. Nicole was starting to become a ghost and Renee's Ruby Thewes made her human again. I guess my second vote would be for Shoreh and I love HOSAF. Im a sucker for films with big performances. Third will be Marcia then Holly and lastly Patricia. I didn't like her in Pieces of April but I loved Katie Holmes in it. Cue the boos...

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergomski

I'm glad Holly Hunter was your winner as she's mine too. Her decision to do one particular scene topless for the sake of realness during one scene was something I hadn't seen before. I think it's her best performance, although I know many would disagree.

I also like Patricia Clarkson and I'm surprised she didn't get much love from you all. She had a great year in 2003 because she also made the criminally snubbed The Station Agent. Her nomination for Pieces of April is a true supporting turn and she's certainly more memorable than Marcia Gay Harden in Mystic River.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean Troutman

This is a GREAT collection of smackdowners.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Has the Smackdown ever scored the Oscar winner lowest before?

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

I'd give it to Clarkson. She's a character actress so she's being awarded in her proper category. And the whole actors should win for their best work crap does not matter when you're talking about a performer as special and under recognized as Clarkson. Think Tilda Swinton winning an Oscar for a boring performance (this is avant-garde weirdo Swinton) in a boring movie wearing regular clothes with Jodie Foster hair. Now that she has yet to receive followup nominations the win was completely justified so that she was awarded once they had her on the ballot.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

YAAAASSSSSSS

I so enjoy these, from start to finish. Even if I haven't seen the films in question! I'm still so glad you and StinkyLulu revived this series.

I'd love to see either 1960, 1973, 1997, or 2001 covered in upcoming editions of the series :)

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

Happy Holly won, she's my winner too.

Just a reminder of how disappointing 2003 was. No Evan Rachel Wood, Scarlet Johansson, or Uma Thurman for Best Actress?

I don't even know how to fix this category, I forgot my ideas of better nominees, but I mean, it wouldn't be very hard to improve I'm sure...

Do 1999 next (so many good nominees)! Or 2002. Or 2005. Idk. :p

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Please review 1984, 2013, 1999, and especially 1978

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

I am slightly horrified that Marcia Gay Harden got such high marks.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

Sigh, I'm the only one in the world who loves Renée in this...

But still, a great read and happy to see the Smackdown back!

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFritz

An interesting year mainly because the five performances are really supporting and four of them are exemplary of what good supporting actressing means.

Marcia Gay Harden's work in Mystic River has aged particularly well. She is exquisite, bringing to life a character whose moral frame and innocence is completely opposed to the roughness and treachery of the people around her. I like everything this actor does with her character in order to give Celeste dimensions, weight and realism in ways that a less capable thespian wouldn't have done. Her work is even more impressive when one thinks that no matter how uninterested or unfocused Mystic River is in her character, she is still able to create a compassionate portrayal of a deeply confused woman trying to do the right thing, outshining most of the cast members of the ensemble... she has stolen the movie in a so quiet and delicate way, that nobody is even aware of it.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLuigi De Angelis

I'm so so pleased! Thanks Nathaniel.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

really gr8 to see this,renee is awful and i always feel the win kille her career momentum,1988 please double loser Weaver.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

Can we have a 1930s or 1940s smackdown next? :-)

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBenji

Thanks, Nathaniel!

SanFranCinema - when the Smackdown was over at StinkyLulu, we did place the winner last at least once (Ingrid Bergman/1974), and might have done it more. But Ingrid was the first to clear that particular distinction so she's the one I remember right off: http://stinkylulu.blogspot.com/2006/11/supporting-actress-smackdown-1974.html

Joe/PhilipH/Mark - We did 1999, 1978 and 1988 over at StinkyLulu. do you think they warrant a revisit?
http://stinkylulu.blogspot.com/2008/05/supporting-actress-smackdown-1999.html
http://stinkylulu.blogspot.com/2007/07/supporting-actress-smackdown-1988.html
http://stinkylulu.blogspot.com/2007/06/supporting-actress-smackdown-1978.html

1984, 1960, 1973 & 1997 are as yet undone.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStinkyLulu

Benji -- i do want to do an early one but not all of the films are available so we'll see.

April 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

A huge thank you to all the paricipants! Just awesome work.

I'd vote for 2001.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Luigi -- that's just it. Honestly Marcia Gay Harden was much better than I remembered her and Aghdashloo is really betrayed by her film (god, that's a terrible film!) and i remembered her role as so much larger -- though it has impact thanks to her.

April 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

For me, it's a toss up between Shoreh Aghdashloo and Holly Hunter. Excellent performances. I have a soft spot in my heart for Patricia Clarkson's performance, but it's just not a very good film. The soft spot comes from "at least she was nominated."

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

it is finally here!

I think I agree with the winner, hunter is excelent in "thirteen".

I didn't follow the oscar chat back then, so a question: was renée's performance particularly reviled at the time, and more of an 'industry' choice?

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

I'm definitely in the Marcia Gay Harden camp for this year, even though Clarkson is one of my favorite actresses. And I think "betrayed by her film" nails my half-hearted view of Aghdashloo (who is quite good in parts).

If we are suggesting years to do, and you want to do one with 2 nominees from the same film, I'm with James T and 2001. Other years that'd especially interest me that I don't remember Stinky already doing include 2002, 1951, 2005, and especially 1986.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

i'd love to do 1960 but i can't find "dark at the top of the stairs" anywhere. there are a number of years with really difficult to find titles that haven't bene done yet like 1951... Streetcar Named Desire is the only one of the nominees that's easy to find.

April 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

marcelo -- people actually liked Renee at the time but it was definitely more of an "it's time" thing than people loving the performance (which was then not hated en masse but more of a love/hate divisive star turn). There was some controversy about Aghdashloo's campaign which used a "will win / should win" mention and was considered a 'diss' of Renee's polarizing performance.

April 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

and for those who are curious here are the year's that have not already been done

1937 • 1938 •

1941 • 1943 • 1944 • 1946 • 1947 • 1948 •

1951 • 1954 • 1957 •

1960 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 •

1970 • 1972 • 1973 • 1977 • 1979 •

1981 • 1984 • 1986 • 1987 • 1989 •

1991 • 1994 • 1995 • 1997 • 1998 •

2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2004 • 2005 •

2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 •

April 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

If I recall correctly, at the time EVERYONE (or at least, everyone that I knew) was talking about Zellweger's performance in Cold Mountain, probably because she's such a burst of energy in an otherwise moribund film. So I always thought it won because it was the performance of the moment, one of those instances where the release date really worked in her favor. I personally think it's rather a brave performance for being SO over-the-top and almost willfully awful.

But I'd still give the win to Holly Hunter.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Nathaniel, you mentioned you were trying to find a year with some shared nominations within films to ease the way back in and looking at the early years that haven't been done there are several that have that instance.

1943-Two for Song of Bernadette
1948-Two for I Remember Mama
1954-Two for The High and the Mighty
1963-Three for Tom Jones

All the nominated performances from those years are in films that are easily accessible too.

I vote for 1943.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

My suggestion for the next Smackdown is 1994. Five different styles, interesting performances and two actresses nominated for the same film.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLuigi De Angelis

The 80s, please. Always the 80s.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Agent69 thank you for that. Haha that made me spit out my coffee it was so funny.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTy

Renee Zellweger's performance in Cold Mountain is definitely the weakest of the nominees. Who do you think should have been nominated instead?

I'd like to suggest 1972 for the next Smackdown. Thanks.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEddie

It slays me that this is Clarkson's only nomination. The Station Agent, Far From Heaven, High Art, Elegy, All the Real Girls, Dogville, and THIS is her single nomination?

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Alex, that happens quite frequently. I remember when Paul Giamatti was regularly turning out critically lauded performances in the early 2000s, but when the Academy finally recognized him it was for [...wait for it...] "Cinderella Man."

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

I do recall hating Marcia Gay Harden in this film, but haven't seen Mystic since its release.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

Full disclosure: haven't seen Holly or Patty's performances. But of the other three, there's no contest: it's Shoreh Aghdashloo. Harden's peformance is OK, but the illogicality of the character (what wife would ever tell her husband's friend he killed her daughter without proof! stupid) killed it. And Zee--that's been covered here already quite eloquently. She is so much more undeserving than Ingrid Bergman, who I think is pretty damn good in Orient Express. There's something to be said that she did that long scene in one take with no cuts. I would have given it to non-nominee Jennifer Jones for The Towering Inferno--strong supporting role that carried the basic emotional component of the movie.

I'm with joel--1943 would be cool to survey, especially with two very different performances in The Song of Bernadette--the quite, steady one by Anne Revere, and the icy, brittle turn by Gladys Cooper. Good stuff, no lie.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

one of those years where the academy and i didn't come close to agreeing. my nominees -

emma bolger - in america
joan cusack - school of rock
*catherine o'hara - a mighty wind*
sarah paulson – down with love
emma thompson - love actually

my vote for the next smack down - 1979

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

So glad to see that Hunter won this! She was (and remains) the belle of the 2003 supporting actress ball for me. There are so many moments in Thirteen (which...I agree with Guy has not aged well at all) where it's clear that Hunter has a take on her character that's not necessarily on the page or being fed to her through the direction. The little details of her picking the cigarette butts up off in her first scene, or the way she alters her voice when she says "Check out these sexy colors!" My impulse is to think that it's Hunter doing this because the direction rarely captures this kind of spontaneity or inspired characterization from any of the other actors, even Wood (who I still think would have been preferable to at least two of the 2003 Best Actress nominees we ended up with).

Catherine O'Hara is wonderful in A Mighty Wind...even better in For Your Consideration. Sigh.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I'm a fan of Shohreh Aghdashloo and Marcia Gay Harden. Hunter is great too, although she is really more of a Lead than a supporting performance - so sort of unfair to compare hers to the others.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

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