Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Verdict -- Best Supporting Actress 2002

#5. Queen Latifah in Chicago: It's hard to dislike Queen Latifah's saucy performance as Matron Mama Morton because of the amount of pure charisma Queen wields in this (and all of) her roles. At the same time, it's hard to acknowledge this as an Oscar-caliber performance because of the lack of depth (of any kind) in this performance. She's a great singer and tons of fun, but Latifah clearly road the Academy's love of Chicago to a nomination that she didn't really need. In fact, an Oscar nomination only highlights the limitations of this performance more.

#4. Kathy Bates in About Schmidt: On a first viewing, I found Kathy Bates' performance as Robert Hertzel to be simply a case of the actress doing what she does best-- creating high quirk characters with a rough edge that are absolutely hilarious but somewhat light and unnecessary to the overall storyline. Many of those facts are true, but after a second viewing of her scenes I found the contribution she makes to the film invaluable. For starters, she's absolutely the most (and sort of only) hilarious person in the film nailing her line readings and comedic timing. But she also plays her scenes with just a hint of forceful desperation that is potent and invaluable to getting to know her family. A truly great comedic supporting performance.

#3. Julianne Moore in The Hours: In her film, Julianne Moore is nothing short of ethereal in her expression of her character's deep dissatisfaction with her seemingly-idyllic life. She does well in keeping with the melancholy tone of her film, and approaches her character in a unique fashion. By expressing the numbness in Laura Brown's life with an unsettling stillness, Moore makes her character the most memorable and striking in the film. The performance is fairly one-note due to the limitations the script places around Moore's character, but damn if Julianne Moore doesn't nail that note and work it for all it's worth.

#2. Meryl Streep in Adaptation.: It's the sign of a strong year in this category when a performance this strong comes in merely at #2. Meryl Streep pulls you into the sad descent of Susan Orlean, slowly unveiling the inner sadness that exists under Orlean's carefully controlled exterior. Her deliberate and carefully modulated performance reveals the hidden displeasure and lack of passion existing in this woman's life inch by inch, until she makes the terrible mistake to drown out this melancholy with drugs and the wrong guy. It's a devastating transformation, and a true testament to Streep's talent.

#1. Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago: This Oscar win has become a very divisive one, but I'm completely on the love side when it comes to Catherine Zeta-Jones' performance as Velma Kelly. Zeta-Jones delivers a performance that mixes a healthy amount of theatricality  and pure musical talent with a subtext of rage and hidden vulnerability. Her three big numbers are among the best movie musical songs not only because of her wonderful voice but also because of the amount of pure emotion she pours into each and every note. Rarely do we see performances as fun yet moving as this one.

The Year in Review: 2002 was a banner year for this category, with four of the five performers giving truly fantastic yet vastly different performances. Ultimately the pure enjoyability of Zeta-Jones' performance beat out the sad and emotional performances from Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore to become my pick for the year. Kathy Bates (and to a much much lesser extent Queen Latifah) is whole lotta fun as well, single-handedly injecting her film with a whole lot of comedy. My next year will be an oldie, but I probably won't get started on it until at least after this year's Oscars are finished because I have a little bit of catching up to do in the Doc and Foreign categories. Here's a fun clue for my next year: it features 4 winners of this category and 1 single-time nominee.

Every Supporting Actress Nominee Ranked:
  1. Patty Duke in "The Miracle Worker" (1962)
  2. Dorothy Malone in "Written on the Wind" (1956)
  3. Thelma Ritter in "Pickup on South Street" (1953)
  4. Catherine Zeta-Jones in "Chicago" (2002)
  5. Linda Hunt in "The Year of Living Dangerously" (1983)
  6. Anna Paquin in "The Piano" (1993)
  7. Meryl Streep in "Adaptation." (2002)
  8. Cher in "Silkwood" (1983)
  9. Eileen Heckart in "The Bad Seed" (1956)
  10. Emma Thompson in "In the Name of the Father" (1993)
  11. Julianne Moore in "Boogie Nights" (1997) 
  12. Ellen Burstyn in "The Last Picture Show" (1971)
  13. Oprah Winfrey in "The Color Purple" (1985)
  14. Patty McCormack in "The Bad Seed" (1956)
  15. Claire Trevor in "Dead End" (1937)
  16. May Whitty in "Night Must Fall" (1937)
  17. Margaret Avery in "The Color Purple" (1985)
  18. Mildred Dunnock in "Baby Doll" (1956)
  19. Julianne Moore in "The Hours" (2002)
  20. Kathy Bates in "About Schmidt" (2002)
  21. Angela Lansbury in "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962)
  22. Ethel Waters in "Pinky" (1949)
  23. Amy Madigan in "Twice in a Lifetime" (1985)
  24. Meg Tilly in "Agnes of God" (1985)
  25. Gloria Stuart in "Titanic" (1997)
  26. Alfre Woodard in "Cross Creek" (1983)
  27. Barbara Harris in "Who is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?" (1971)
  28. Geraldine Page in "Hondo" (1953)
  29. Anne Shirley in "Stella Dallas" (1937)
  30. Amy Irving in "Yentl" (1983)
  31. Kim Basinger in "L.A. Confidential" (1997)
  32. Shirley Knight in "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962)
  33. Cloris Leachman in "The Last Picture Show" (1971)
  34. Margaret Leighton in "The Go-Between" (1971)
  35. Rosie Perez in "Fearless" (1993)
  36. Mercedes McCambridge in "All the King's Men" (1949)
  37. Joan Cusack in "In & Out" (1997)
  38. Anjelica Huston in "Prizzi's Honor" (1985)
  39. Ann-Margret in "Carnal Knowledge" (1971)
  40. Donna Reed in "From Here to Eternity" (1953)
  41. Glenn Close in "The Big Chill" (1983)
  42. Alice Brady in "In Old Chicago" (1937)
  43. Mary Badham in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962) 
  44. Holly Hunter in "The Firm" (1993)
  45. Queen Latifah in "Chicago" (2002)
  46. Celeste Holm in "Come to the Stable" (1949)
  47. Ethel Barrymore in "Pinky" (1949)
  48. Minnie Driver in "Good Will Hunting" (1997)
  49. Thelma Ritter in "Birdman of Alcatraz" (1962) 
  50. Winona Ryder in "The Age of Innocence" (1993)
  51. Grace Kelly in "Mogambo" (1953)
  52. Mercedes McCambridge in "Giant" (1956)
  53. Marjorie Rambeau in "Torch Song" (1953) 
  54. Elsa Lanchester in "Come to the Stable" (1949)
  55. Andrea Leeds in  "Stage Door" (1937)

1 comment:

dinasztie said...

Bates/Streep > Moore > CZJ > Latifah for me. I never really got CZJ, I actually found her surprisingly pale and weak. I adore Meryl and Kathy the same here. I might go with Kathy for the hell of it. :))) Meryl has my vote 3 times (Julia, The Iron Lady and The Deer Hunter).

Great reviews!