Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Verdict -- Best Supporting Actress 1956

#5. Mercedes McCambridge in Giant: If a performance can leave me feeling more ambivalent than Mercedes McCambridge's did, I haven't seen it yet. Luz Benedict in just not an Oscar character--despite the fact that she shouts, is rough around the edges, and has such contempt for seemingly everyone around her. The blame has to be placed on McCambridge for giving her such a lack of presence or any charisma. An utterly pointless nomination, that I can't see very many people fully supporting.

#4. Mildred Dunnock in Baby Doll: An instantly loveable performance that gives Mildred Dunnock a chance to take this bizarre character and have fun with her. Aunt Rose Comfort flutters about the film catering to her family's every whim, so by the time Dunnock gets her heartbreaking dinner scene you feel a real emotional connection with the character that is surprising considering her screentime. Though she doesn't have much to do, there is no deny the quirky charm that exudes from the screen whenever Dunnock enters a room. This is a delightful performance that doesn't quite extend into the realm of truly phenomenal acting.

#3. Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed: As the unlikely sociopath Rhoda Penmark, Patty McCormack is an absolutely terrifying and iconic screen villain. She balances the immaturity and youth of the character with a startlingly haunting side that you wouldn't expect from such an adorable little girl. She works well with Nancy Kelly, and makes you question why this girl has gotten away with being such a spoiled brat for such a long time. It reaches the point where you can tell that she is so bad in the 'good girl' scenes that you realize she is just pretending to be a good girl, and you realize it along with her mother. A confident, technically adept performance that leaves a huge impression on you.

#2. Eileen Heckart in The Bad Seed: In just two brief scenes, Eileen Heckart gives a devastating performance that makes her entire film better. She tackles her role fearlessly and isn't afraid to dip into the realm of overacting and theatricality, and it pays off in spades. Both of her highly emotional scenes require her to be drunk out of her mind, but she doesn't blink twice. Her accusations against Rhoda really moves the film along, and she opens both Rhoda's mother and you're eyes exactly to just how devious this little girl is. Probably the most challenge performance to make convincingly, but under Heckart makes it fantastic.

#1. Dorothy Malone in Written on the Wind: The biggest shocker of this group was how much I loved Dorothy Malone's delicious performance as Marylee Hadley. It's one that shows how great melodrama can be, and expresses the complex emotional struggles of Marylee in a powerful way. She has sensuality of the performance down pat, but what is truly impressive is how well she navigates Marylee's complex emotional problems. Her deep sexual obsession with Mitch could have easily come off as simply creepy, but she makes you pity her and realize that her character has some very serious problems. One of the best surprises I've had on a rewatch.

The Year in Review: A very strong year, with all of the top four performances being absolute delights. I thought for sure that Eileen would be taking this one, but Dorothy Malone's victory just proves that I should not come into a ranking with any kind of preconceived notions, even on the performances I've already seen. All four films were very good too, which is a relief after 1983's lack of any really great films. My next year will start in a couple of days, but I'm hoping to get some other posts out before then, and it's only a couple of years away from this one. This time it only took me about a month, so I'm hoping to slow get a rhythm going on these so I'm not quite so slow.

All Supporting Actress Nominees Ranking:
  1. Patty Duke in "The Miracle Worker" (1962)
  2. Dorothy Malone in "Written on the Wind" (1956)
  3. Linda Hunt in "The Year of Living Dangerously" (1983)
  4. Anna Paquin in "The Piano" (1993)
  5. Cher in "Silkwood" (1983)
  6. Eileen Heckart in "The Bad Seed" (1956)
  7. Emma Thompson in "In the Name of the Father" (1993)
  8. Patty McCormack in "The Bad Seed"(1956)
  9. Claire Trevor in "Dead End" (1937)
  10. May Whitty in "Night Must Fall" (1937)
  11. Mildred Dunnock in "Baby Doll"(1956)
  12. Angela Lansbury in "The Manchurian Candidate"(1962)
  13. Alfre Woodard in "Cross Creek" (1983)
  14. Anne Shirley in "Stella Dallas" (1937)
  15. Amy Irving in "Yentl"(1983)
  16. Shirley Knight in "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962)
  17. Rosie Perez in "Fearless" (1993)
  18. Glenn Close in "The Big Chill"(1983)
  19. Alice Brady in "In Old Chicago" (1937)
  20. Mary Badham in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962)
  21. Holly Hunter in "The Firm" (1993)
  22. Thelma Ritter in "Birdman of Alcatraz" (1962)
  23. Winona Ryder in "The Age of Innocence" (1993)
  24. Mercedes McCambridge in "Giant"(1956)
  25. Andrea Leeds in  "Stage Door"(1937)


dinasztie said...

This is a real shocker!!! :)

Derek Bowman said...

I know, right! I was so shocked by this outcome myself!