Entries in Supporting Actress (208)
Presenting the Supporting Actresses of '79. Three divorcées trying to find themselves or build new lives (a white hot character type / movie theme in the late 70s) battled for the statue with a simple suburban mom and a precocious student at the 52nd Annual Academy Awards.
Candice Bergen and Mariel Hemingway were first-time Oscar players in 1979, but they shared the interesting distinction of being previous Globe nominees in the long since cancelled category of "Promising Newcomer/Acting Debut" in 1966 (The Sand Pebbles) and 1976 (Lipstick) respectively. Barbara Barrie , the eldest nominee, was no stranger to good reviews having previously won Cannes Best Actress (for the little seen interracial romance One Potato Two Potato in 1964) but was largely considered a TV actress. She returned to the small screen immediately after her most beloved film role -- in a TV series based on that film no less making her the rare performer (the only one?) to have received both an Emmy nomination and Oscar nomination for the same exact role! But the Kramer vs Kramer ladies were the marquee draws in 1979 and not just because the public response to their divorce drama was so seismic: Jane Alexander and Meryl Streep had been nominated before and would be again. Especially La Streep. No one could have then predicted that she'd continually obliterate Oscar records over the next thirty plus years but everyone knew she was the Next Big Thing. 1979 was the year of her true ascendance, a third consecutive year co-starring in a Best Picture contender (Julia, The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs Kramer) and the small matter of two other much-raved about performances in the same year (Manhattan and The Seduction of Joe Tynan).
Here to talk about these five turns are author KM Soehnlein ("The World of Normal Boys") and film bloggers Kristen Sales (Sales on Film), Bill Chambers (Film Freak Central), Brian Herrera (StinkyLulu), and your host Nathaniel R (The Film Experience). There's also a must-listen Podcast companion conversation to the Smackdown where we flesh out some of these thoughts and expound on the movies themselves.
Without further ado, the Smackdown...
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN
An in-depth discussion after the jump...
Sister Harriett. Hellcat Maggie. Pat Archer. Linda Houston. Mrs. Contie. Amelia Kavan. Marjorie Mellor. And 'Christie'...
One of the screen's best character actresses is taking over The Film Experience on June 9th. You've seen her in Gangs of New York, Hotel Rwanda, Dancer in the Dark, Birth, Adaptation, An Education, and American Psycho, among others.
She wowed again as the unconventional nun "Sister Harriet" in Steven Soderbergh's Emmy hopeful "The Knick" (which just finished shooting Season 2). Now meet the actress behind the indelible characters.
Have any question for this fine talent?
The latest buzz from Cannes is that the Best Actress race is heating up. Or at least speculation is. Marion Cotillard's Lady MacBeth has yet to screen but those that have seen it early are typically wowed. But we know at this point not to expect Cannes juries to point and go "Her! Her!". If there is a Blanchett-Vanquisher out there it may well be Zhao Tao who stars in the "giddily ambitious" Mountains May Depart.
That's the latest from the reknowned Jia Zhangke, a regular at the fest for whom Zhao Tao is a recurring player (Still Life, Platform, A Touch of Sin). Mountains is Zhangke's fourth try at the Palme and though he usually comes away empty-handed, his last attempt A Touch of Sin (2013) took Best Screenplay. Despite the jury completely changing each year Cannes somehow has an Oscar-like sense of momentum wherein you generally move up the ranks as to which prizes you take; longevity wins the Palme. (It's not as simple as that of course but there can be a weird cumulative coronation effect.)
So that makes the Palme race: Hungary's Son of Saul vs. USA's Carol vs China's Mountains May Depart? (Or am I forgetting something that's been similarly ecstatically received?) Typing them out that way it makes Cannes sound like the Olympics of the movies, only annual instead of bi-annual. And maybe it is?
In other Canne actressy news, our friend Kyle Buchanan says that Jane Fonda walks away with Paolo Sorrentino's Youth which stars Michael Caine as a retired film composer. I'm hearing that Fonda's role is very showy (an old combative muse to Harvey Keitel's director character), but quite small. Nevertheless I couldn't help but immediately picture both Grace (Jane) and Frankie (Lily) as Oscar nominees this year in Supporting (for Youth) and Lead (for Grandma) and how much media fun would that be? Sorrentino had a major Cannes sensation and eventual Oscar winner with his last film The Great Beauty. This one is in English which naturally will give it a leg up with Oscar voters if it opens this year but it's already more divisive which can be a problem. Still love/hate divides are tough to predict with awards. All you sometimes need is the right people on the love side to turn the critical tide around. And anyway when this mixed review called it 'elegant fun' I just thought... doesn't that describe a lot of well received prestige films?
But just to remind us that she's already one of the immortals (with 2 Oscars, multiple classic films, and celebrity outside of acting as well, the legend is assured) here is Jane Fonda looking amazing on the cover of W -- their oldest cover girl ever.
Here's an interesting bit on self-awareness from the W interview:
One day on the set of On Golden Pond, a film that she coproduced so that she could costar with her father, the legendary actor Henry Fonda, she was fixing her hair when Katharine Hepburn (who played her mother in the film) pinched her cheek and demanded, “What do you want this to mean?” “It was 1981, and I didn’t know what she was talking about,” Fonda recalled. “Back then, I didn’t give my looks a fare-thee-well, and that bothered Katharine. She said to me, ‘This is what you present to the world. What do you want it to say about you?’ Her question has been lodged in my psyche ever since. I now think what Katharine meant was awareness of a persona. She wanted me to consider how I wanted to be seen. Now I pay attention to how I present myself to the world. I realize that it matters.”
Happy Mother's Day, readers! Here's new contributor Angelica Jade Bastién returning to talk Bette Davis, tell all bios, and a 1940s classic. - Editor
When I introduce friends to Bette Davis for the first time I tend to show them Now, Voyager. Yes, the film gives us one of Davis' best performances but my love for it is deeply personal. Whenever I watch Now, Voyager I see my emotional landscape on the screen. As a teenager struggling with mental illness and a caring yet controlling mother who didn’t quite know how to handle it the film was a revelation. It gave me hope that I could become the woman I always dreamed of. Ultimately, my obsession with the film centers upon the multiple ways it explores motherhood.
Now, Voyager is essentially about the transformation of Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) from spinster aunt figure to badass, emotionally realized womanhood. The film begins with Charlotte teetering at the edge of a nervous breakdown brought upon by the multitude of ways her mother, Mrs. Vale, controls her...