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« Foreign Film Oscar Watch: Denmark, Germany, Venezuela, Nepal | Main | A Year with Kate: Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967) »
Wednesday
Aug272014

Introducing... The Supporting Actress Nominees of 1989

It's just a few days until the Smackdown of 1989. Have you voted yet? You've met our panel, now let's meet the Supporting Actress nominees we'll be discussing as they're introduced in their movies. If you hadn't yet seen the movie would you be expecting an Oscar nomination from their first scene? What do the scenes telegraph to the audience?

1 minute in Meet "Mrs Brown" (Brenda Fricker in My Left Foot)
We see Christy Brown's mother before we see Christy Brown (Daniel Day Lewis)... unless you count his eponymous appendage. But it's merely during the credit sequence so we only glean that she's the mum and that they're going somewhere special since she checks herself in the mirror. It doesn't take long to understand her importance. At the end of the first full scene we see a painting Christy made of her with a slow zoom that dissolves into flashback in a maternity ward - a mighty clue that she's absolutely central to the movie. 

A pink-loving bride and three more real characters after the jump

Momma, momma, MOMMA! Momma, this nail polish is drying way too dark. Practically pink my foot!

3 minutes in Meet "Shelby" (Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias)
Though the first character we see is Annelle (Daryl Hannah), Shelby quickly follows running down the stairs inside the house Annelle is watching. Aside from her father yelling at the birds in the yard, Shelby has the first real line in this southern fried comedy and she's the first character called by name, too. She's obviously a bride to be given the wedding cake and decore all around the scene and if you'd never heard of Steel Magnolias before this moment you'd assume she was the lead. Thankfully, though the narrative centers on her this film is crowded with show-off actresses in her orbit none of whom will gladly give away a scene and so it plays like a true ensemble piece.

Hi Gary. You're up so early.

11 minutes in Meet "Helen Buckman" (Dianne Wiest in Parenthood)
Dianne's entry piggybacks on her son Gary's (Joaquin Phoenix, age 15, in his last credited role as Leaf Phoenix before switching to his birth name). We've already heard he's "a kid with problems" when we see him trying to sneak out without his mom noticing him. Helen surrounded by bills and paperwork still notices and tries to make conversation and maintain a huge smile with him and her daughter shortly thereafter. It doesn't go well and she ends up finishing the conversations herself "nice talking to you." We've instantly gleaned that she's a single sweet mother but stressed out by moody hormonal teenagers. Since it's the great Dianne Wiest, only a few years past her first Oscar win, we know there's funny drama and painful comedy to come.

 

[no dialogue]

11½ minutes in Meet "Masha" (Lena Olin in Enemies: A Love Story)
We've spent 10 minutes with Herman Broder (Ron Silver), which is long enough to know that he lies to his immigrant wife and his friends. So it isn't a surprise when he gives a false address in the The Bronx and who do we find there but his mistress. The camera starts with a closeup of her arm (instantly revealing, visually, that she's a concentration camp survivor) and pans up to a gorgeous sensual face, lost in romantic canoodling. They dance and kiss until ugly coughing interrupts the moment. Masha gives delicious annoyed side eye and a deadpan "my mother." Her mood shifts very quickly, from silent lover to rebellious child to morbid philosophizer. She seems like quite a character... even characters. Where will her mood go next? 

[No dialogue]

26 minutes in Meet "Tamara Broder" (Anjelica Huston in Enemies: A Love Story)
Herman is juggling a wife and lover. Then a mysterious newspaper personal ad summons him to the Lower East Side. An elderly couple lets him into the address given. Who is in inside but an Oscar winning actress slowly limping toward him, theme music delicatedly underscoring the otherwise silent stunned moment. Herman looks like he's seen a ghost. Now, this is an entrance.  But who is she?

The old man breaks the silence...

Your wife has returned!"

His first wife who died years ago? This movie just got way more complicated...

The Smackdown arrives this holiday weekend. You have until the end of the day tomorrow to vote. So send in those ballots

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Reader Comments (17)

Brenda Blethyn??? Someone's thinking of "Secrets and Lies."

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

good god, what a brain freeze error. Blethyn is the only Brenda I ever think about.

Thanks for quickly pointing it out. fixed.

August 27, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I know the awards are for individual achievement, but I wish there could be a composite nomination for The Women of Steel Magnolias. It's as if that film has one supporting character and it's played by six women.

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W

Don't worry, Nathaniel. Blethyn is the only Brenda I ever think about too, and only in the context of "Secrets & Lies."

Can't wait for the actual smackdown. It'll be the first time I have strong opinions about ALL five of the nominees.

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Except Chenowith, Nathaniel. ;-)

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I only need to see My Left Foot. Never saw it. Good reason to watch to see if she deserved taking a statuette away from Lena Olin. And not because Olin was the best in the bunch. More so because it would be nice if she had an Oscar too.

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Yay! I love reading these write-ups. They make me want to rewatch all the movies again. This year all the introductions are great.

Who would you dump to make room for San Giacomo (in case you love her as much as I do)?

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy sue......"it's not a buffet, Kit!" Lol she was gold in that movie

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

BVR - did you send in your ballot?

Peggy Sue - at the time i wasn't big into Laura's performance but i should probably watch that film again. I'm trying to remember who i was gaga about in '89 for supporting.

I remember being really into these performances

Bridget Fonda, Scandal
Dianne Wiest, Parenthood
Kelly Lynch, Drugstore Cowboy
Carrie Fisher, When Harry Met Saly

but i don't for the life of me remember who made my actual ballot or what I thought of Lena & Anjelica so i'm excited to watch it again tonight! I love Steel Magnolias as an ensemble but the only one i'd consider nominating all by themselves would be Sally Field who i think is basically genius in her big bipolar scene. whether or not the rest of hte performance stacks up with the other leading ladies of 1989, i'd have to revisit.

August 27, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I've never seen Steel Magnolias, but have seen the other films and thought the actresses were all really good.

My favorite is Anjelica Huston though. What a run of fabulous performances she had!

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

adri -- did you send in your ballot?

August 27, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

My Left Foot is great not just for Fricker and DDL, but Fiona Shaw is terrific as well.

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

I haven't seen Enemies but the other 3 actresses are all terrific. Wiest is brilliant in Parenthood and Roberts became a superstar after Magnolias.

Fricker hasn't done much since her Oscar win but her performance was powerful and deserving.

BTW - I agree that there should be an Oscar for cast like the SAGs do. Films like Steel, Parenthood, Birdcage etc would all have got an Oscar.

And while we are at it - why don't they introduce / reintroduce 2 more awards;-

1. Song score / adaption - for films that have many original songs or are based on musicals - Into The Woods, Get On Up and Jersey Boys might be eligible.

2. And in honour of the brilliant voice actor , Robin Williams, a Voice Acting/ Narrating award.

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

Yeah, Sally's meltdown is really well executed. I also love Shirley because I personally love actresses who don't take themselves too seriously.

I really think you should try to watch Shirley Valentine. I've seen the film and the play and it always gets me. Best actress is king of crowded! If Isabelle Huppert was eligible for Une affaire de femmes I'm in deep trouble because I have like 8 contenders!

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

They got this one right. As much as I want Angelica to have multiple Oscars.

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

As much as this kills me to miss a Smackdown, sadly I have to sit this one out. It's been years since I've seen Parenthood and Enemies, and it doesn't feel right to vote on them because my memories are so faded. I do remember loving all three ladies. I haven't seen Fricker's performance. I recently saw Steel Magnolias yet again, and I have to say, as good and charismatic as Roberts was, her accent is just BAD. Still, I would give her the nom, but she'd probably be the No. 5.

Still remember Wiest's immortal line after her heartbroken daughter says her boyfriend loved her.

"Oh dear, they always say that. Then they come."

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

All 5 were great.

Olin should have won, superb acting, very close to over-acting but never crossing the line.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo

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