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Entries in Supporting Actress (357)

Sunday
Nov132011

Naked Gold Man: Roles For Which Meryl Streep Was Not Nominated

For this week's gold man column, we're skipping the general overview and getting really specific. Who doesn't enjoy a good zoom in on Meryl Streep? The Iron Lady, her Margaret Thatcher biopic performances, begins screening very soon -- they moved the release date back but not the screenings. So we need to discuss this before it does and the focus shifts from groundless speculation to case evidence.

Every time I've floated the notion that Meryl Streep cannot be an Iron Lock for a Best Actress nomination since her film has not been seen, people object. "But Meryl is ALWAYS nominated," sayeth everyone. Not so, not so. While it's true that The World's Greatest Actress™ seems as much a can't miss prospect in Best Actress as she did in the 80s what with nominations for Prada, Doubt and Julia fresh in our minds, she has missed the shortlist. Yes, even THE MOST NOMINATED is not always nominated. Some of those roles even looked good on paper and in some of them she was marvelous onscreen. If there'd been Oscar blogs back in in the 80s and 90s, for example, pundits would've leaned on her whilst predicting each and every year with as much lazy force as voters do when balloting. There is no such thing as someone who is Oscar-nominated for everything they've ever done -- unless they only made one film or their name is Stephen Daldry (three-for-three thus far in Best Director). Even James Dean, who famously received two post-humous Oscar nominations, was only nominated for 66% of his three iconic film roles...

...yeah, yeah. true, true. okay, okay...

You can't be nominated in the same acting category twice in one year so theoretically Dean could have been nominated for Rebel Without a Cause if it hadn't been for East of Eden. This is an important point which we will discuss in the following "snub" list. 

25 Streep Roles That Weren't Oscar Nominated

Meryl's entrance into the cinema she would soon reign. Julia (1977)

1977 Julia
"Anne Marie" is really just a cameo (two scenes) but it's magically fitting that this then unknown actress's first screen role was opposite two acting legends: Jane Fonda & Vanessa Redgrave (a probable Best Supporting Actress this year as she is quite sensational in Coriolanus). For most people the only way is down from there but for Meryl she's all, like, 'hey shove over. I'm here!' If she felt intimidated it doesn't remotely show in her haughty, funny, scene-stealing bit. But only important actors get nominated for cameos, even cameos this juicy, and Meryl was not yet a star. [More on Meryl's debut]

1978 The Deer Hunter -1st nomination

1979 The Seduction of Joe Tynan and Manhattan
This was the year of Kramer vs Kramer (her first win, following her first nom for The Deer Hunter in '78) so Academy voters couldn't have nominated her politico's mistress "Karen Traynor" or her angry lesbian ex-wife "Jill" in Woody Allen's other 70s masterpiece. Though these roles undoubtedly helped her win (note that the critics awards she won that year include all three) they wouldn't have won her nominations in a theoretical Kramer absence given the Oscar reception of Tynan (zero noms) and her internal competition in Manhattan. [More on this her year of actressy ascendance]

1979 Kramer vs. Kramer -2nd nom/1st win
1981 The French Lieutenant's Woman - 3rd nom

1982 Still of the Night  
This noirish femme fatale role arrived two weeks before the Sophie's Choice juggernaut (her second Oscar win) so technically she couldn't have been nominated for it unless they demoted her to "supporting" which they didn't. (The actress who got the 'demotion so we can double dip' you was Jessica Lange for Tootsie, who went on to win supporting while losing lead to Meryl.)  Though this noir may have added to surface cries of "Meryl can do anything!" Meryl herself didn't think so; according to some reports she wasn't particularly thrilled with her own work in it.

1982 Sophie's Choice -4th nom/2nd win
1983 Silkwood -5th nom

1984 Falling in Love
Meryl's work as "Molly Gilmore" a married woman who falls for a fellow commuter (her Deer Hunter co-star DeNiro) is actually rather touching. But it arrived fast on the heels of five shape-shifting legend-making iconic roles. This normal contemporary woman probably felt underwhelming to voters. Something "Magic Meryl" could probably do in her sleep and why not take a wee break from the exhaustingly perfect new legend? Trivia Note: We can't prove it but we believe any American actress not playing a farm wife that year was disqualified in a special one-year-only AMPAS ruling.  That's the only feasible explanation for the psychotic snubbing of Katheen Turner in Romancing the Stone.

1985-2009 including the 3 most interesting case studies in When Meryl is Not Nominated AFTER THE JUMP.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct312011

Oscar Horrors: Nosy Neighbor Finale

Editor's Note: This is the final entry in our Oscar Horrors miniseries. We really hope you enjoyed all 17 entries -- full index at the bottom of this post. Should we do it again next year? (Yes, there are more nominations afforded to the creepy-crawly films. The Oscars have been around for 84 years after all...) -Nathaniel

HERE LIES... Ruth Gordon's Oscar-winning turn in Rosemary's Baby who drugged her competition and dragged them to hell in 1968.

Robert here, with a look back at one of Oscar's best Best Supporting Actress decisions. You probably already know that Ruth Gordon was a real Hollywood veteran when she won her Oscar for Rosemary's Baby, having been in the showbiz business ever since appearing as a picture baby in 1915 and taking a stage role as one of Peter Pan's lost boys. Even if you didn't know that, it's the sort of thing that seems right. Or you may have deduced it after seeing footage of Ruth winning her Oscar and declaring "I can't tell ya' how encouraging a thing like this is" followed by a big audience laugh. It's a good laugh line and a silly thing to say after over fifty years in the business. But the laugh was on the audience because Ruth was right. At the time of her win, Ruth's career was going fine. She'd already been a nominee for Inside Daisy Clover a few years earlier. So it would be wrong to say that the Oscar raised her career from the dead... but it sure created a monster.
 
In the first 53 years of Ruth Gordon's career, the pre-Oscar years, Miss Ruth assembled 13 screen credits to her name. Not an insane amount. Not the hundreds you probably assumed from such an enduring actress. But hey, showbusiness is showbusiness. You take what you can get to put food on the table. In the final 19 years of her career, the post-Oscar years, Madam Ruth showed up on screen 28 times. If you take out TV roles the number still almost doubles post-Oscar. so between the ages of 72 and her passing at 88, Ruth Gordon worked twice as much onscreen as in the first 70 years of her life. You'd think she'd made a deal with the devil.

How'd she do that? Well, Ruth Gordon knew what she was doing. Her performance in Rosemary's Baby is the most memorable in the film. But it's not written that way. Consider the descriptive names given to all the characters in the film: the plain but still very pretty Rosemary, the generically masculine Guy, the ancient and powerful Roman, and Ruth Gordon plays Minnie. She's a tiny little thing. Okay, she's got some sass, but she doesn't have any big emotional stand-out Oscar scenes, except of course that she makes every scene she's in stand out.
 
She's a villain. She's evil. Really evil. Frustratingly, annoyingly evil. She's your grandmother's pestering friend, but evil. And the Oscars don't like their supporting actresses to be that evil. Even when they're villainous, like Tilda Swinton or Mo'Nique, they're multi-layered evil. They have human moments. Oscar like's his supporting ladies complex but his supporting men sociopathic. Ruth's Minnie Castevet is dangerous and remorseless. She has more in common with the Hannibal Lecters, Anton Chigurhs and Jokers of the world then her fellow supporting actresses. Then she followed it all up with Harold & Maude. Chances are, if you don't know Ruth as Minnie, you know her as Maude. From the malevolent to the benevolent. It was the one-two punch of her career and it proved that she could do anything. And that, is truly scary.

OSCAR HORRORS
The Swarm - Best Costume Design
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane -Best Actress in a Leading Role
The Fly -Best Makeup
Death Becomes Her -Best Effects, Visual Effects
The Exorcist -Best Actress in a Supporting Role 
The Birds - Best Effects, Special Visual Effects

The Birds - Best Effects, Special Visual Effects
Rosemary's Baby - Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
Beetlejuice - Best Makeup
Carrie - Best Actress in a Leading Role
Bram Stoker's Dracula - Best Costume Design
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Best Actor in a Leading Role
King of the Zombies - Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture

Poltergeist - Best Effects, Visual Effects
Hellboy II: The Golden Army -Achievement in Makeup
The Silence of the Lambs -Best Director
The Tell-Tale Heart -Best Short Subject, Cartoons

Friday
Oct282011

Oscar Horrors: In (Mild) Defense of Linda Blair 

In Oscar Horrors, Team Film Experience explores Oscar nominated contributions to the horror genre. Here is new contributor Mayukh Sen.

HERE LIES...Linda Blair’s reasonably complex turn in The Exorcist, slain by the prodigious work of fellow pubescent Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon). 

Brian de Palma apparently hated The Exorcist, and it’s not difficult to see why.  I generally fall on the unimpressed side with the film, because none of the psychological trauma undergone by the characters finds aesthetic articulation.  Everything is so clearly, obviously constructed on a Hollywood set that it borders on the parodistic. What is superlative about a director like de Palma is that he understands the trappings of genre conventions and mocks the notion of film as a classically escapist, populist medium, managing to extract a modicum of truth out of such a framework.  Friedkin doesn’t understand this.  Interpreting what should be perfunctory entertainment as a parable of human suffering – that’s dreary city.         

I won’t waste a second pretending Linda Blair’s performance is any great shakes.  Her nomination was largely the product of inertia – The Exorcist (1973) was just a cultural phenomenon that the Academy couldn’t ignore, Dan.  Yet reading Glenn’s wonderful piece on Sissy Spacek’s performance in Carrie made me realize the extent to which Blair’s performance has become underrated.  Spacek’s performance is a masterpiece because of her fearless, but still graceful, physical expressivity.  She is a performer who understands body language.  The way she continually destructs, contorts, and fractures her body often acts as a reflection of the character’s emotional distress. 

Somewhere along the line, it became fashionable to oversimplify Blair’s performance as a lot of “sitting there” caked with makeup.  Those in defense of her performance often point to the luminosity of her earlier pre-possession scenes, rightly claiming that she is replete with youthful charm.  I agree.  She’s wonderful there, and she sets up a foundation for the supposed tragedy that occurs later in the film. 

Beyond Mercedes McCambridge’s voice, plastic turning heads, body double controversies and other stunts that may not have much to do with acting talent, though, Blair’s work is solid.  She demonstrates remarkable control over her facial expressions and body language, subtly communicating the “devil’s” continual torment, lack of patience, and frustration.

How does one externalize the psychological state of demonic possession?  I’m not quite sure, but we can say that Linda Blair succeeded, to a degree. Her work is highly gestural but still controlled, and this degree of expressivity works wonders. I’ve noticed a tendency of certain critics to dismiss horror film performances as merely “acting scared” and “being terrified”.  Though Blair’s performance is ultimately a cheap narrative trope, it shouldn’t be evaluated so lazily.  I’m not a fan of praising performances because of the sheer amount of work put into them (see Meryl Streep’s string of performances in the 80s), but, in this case, the physical work is brutally effective.  There is increasingly little appreciation for what actors communicate through physical gestures, and this might be part of why Linda Blair’s nomination is something of an afterthought these days.

Previously on Oscar Horrors

Friday
Sep302011

Persona Non Linka

Thank you to Glenn for drawing our attention to this Melancholia poster starring Lars von Trier (one of a series). When was the last time you saw a director on his own movie poster?


I mean apart from Hitchcock's Psycho -- the one where he warns you about not entering the theater late -- I can't think of one (unless the director is also the lead actor of course). It's impish fun to use von Trier this way in marketing since anyone buying a ticket to Melancholia is going to know who he is. But the "persona non grata" Cannes seal in the upper left corner is the real design coup here. Well done, whoever thought of it.

Links!
My New Plaid Pants chooses five fav Gwyneth Paltrow performances. Where the hell is Flesh and Bone? That'd make mine.
Thelma Adams recruits female pundits and critics to talk Best Supporting Actress
EW is eager to meet all of your Avengers needs 
Flickr More Drive art. See also this week's Curio column
i09 selects the ten best sci-fi death scenes. Number 2 should be number 1, duh!
Shakesville offers up Princess Bride Monopoly (click image to view larger). Well done.  

Source

Awards Daily new pics of Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe 
Form is Void Have you ever seen Jim Henson's Time Piece (1966)? It gave him his first and only Oscar nomination (Best Live Action Short Film). It's "surprisingly spicy."

Finally, it seems that Bennett Miller will follow up Moneyball with Foxcatcher which is the story of crazy rich person / killer John DuPont, the heir to the DuPont fortune who killed an Olympic wrestler on the massive DuPont estate. His defense claimed paranoid schizophrenia but he was still found guilty. Steve Carell will play the challenging role. And, given what Carell has been able to do in Little Miss Sunshine and even Crazy, Stupid, Love. is there any reason to believe this couldn't be an Oscar nominated  next career step? This project is so fresh it doesn't even have an IMDb page yet (though I suspect that will change today given that this news is all over the 'net)

I guess Bennett Miller is only going to do true stories that are essentially tiny- window biopics of famous or somehow notorious men: Capote, Moneyball, Foxcatcher? It's a niche but at least everyone agrees that he's good at it. As for tiny-window biopics -- they're the best kind! The only good kind.

Tuesday
Sep062011

Interview: Vera & Dagmara in "Higher Ground"

You may expect, when sitting down to discuss a serious and deeply felt indie with two award-winning actresses that the air would be heavy with purpose or self-reflection. The film in question is the provocative HIGHER GROUND, a drama about a born-again woman named Corrine (Vera Farmiga) struggling with her faith in a tight knit religious community. But the initial conversation proves more sartorial than spiritual.

Dagmara & Vera on the day of this interview

Vera Farmiga, who has walked her share of red carpets (especially two years back with that well deserved Oscar nomination for Up in the Air) has forgotten the shoes she intended to bring for the next stop on the publicity circuit. Dagmara Dominczyk, her friend and co-star, is immediately sympathetic. Dagmara, you see, has just been shopping. Since she's arrived to the interview first, her contagious sense of humor is already familiar.

"Between the dressing room and my house it changed from 'Awesome!' to 'what was I thinking?'," Dagmara confesses, laughing, about the dress she's just purchased. 

Higher Ground, Deepest Chemistry

The actresses have such an easy warm rapport -- they quite literally finish two of each other's sentences and speak in unison twice during our time together -- that their mesmerizing chemistry onscreen as two Jesus-loving housewives with a physically intimate and spiritually edifying friendship is suddenly right there all palpable in three dimensions. Not the kind you have to wear glasses to see.

Dagmara & Vera in HIGHER GROUND (2011) © Sony Pictures Classics

"Chemistry is a funny thing. It's either there or it's not. And if it's not it's a bitch ...but it is possible." Vera says with Dagmara instantly agreeing that it was just there for them; they can't even remember how they met. "I personally think it's incredibly difficult to not have chemistry with Dagmara." Vera adds with a smile, and explains the very obvious: the moment one meets Dagmara one feels close to her.

"My first girl crush!" Dagmara interjects about Vera. "I've never had a girl crush before. I'm just putting it out there!"

FULL INTERVIEW AFTER THE JUMP

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul052011

Halfway Honors. Best of 2011 Thus Far

This year seems to be off to a slow start but here's what I'd choose as the best of the year thus far. I've excluded films that are still waiting for their proper release like Andrew Haigh's finely tuned miniature gay drama Weekend (which has been collecting festival trophies and which I loved) and Paddy Considine's discomfiting abuse drama Tyrannosaur which I did not love but which boasts impressive acting.

TOP TEN PICTURES (alpha order)
The Arbor, Beginners, Bridesmaids, Certified Copy, Jane Eyre, Midnight in Paris, Poetry, Rango, The Tree of Life and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. You can see a complete list of what I've seen here.

[Notable films that I did plan to see but will have to catch on DVD include: Hanna, The Housemaid and Win Win]

DIRECTOR
Clio Barnard - THE ARBOR
Lee Chang-dong - POETRY
Abbas Kiarostami -CERTIFIED COPY
Terrence Malick -THE TREE OF LIFE
Mike Mills -BEGINNERS

notes: I gave Barnard the slight edge over Apichatpong Weerathesakul mostly because I far prefer "Joe's" earlier effort Tropical Malady to Boonmee. But not without some hesitation. I appreciated the bold experimentation of The Arbor, a documentary/narrative hybrid about the life and work of playwright and screenwriter Andrea Dunbar (Rita, Sue and Bob, Too). I just wish the film had been tighter and less relentless in its last 45 minutes. It had already done so much surgical socioeconomic surveillance damage by that point that rather than feeling devastating it started to feel exhausting. But it's definitely worth a look.

ACTRESS
Juliette Binoche - CERTIFIED COPY
Yun Jeong-Hie -POETRY
Mia Wasikowska - JANE EYRE
Kristen Wiig - BRIDESMAIDS
Michelle Williams -MEEKS CUTOFF

actors and the supporting crop and even a few technicals if you just...

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