Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Verdict -- Best Supporting Actress 1975

#5. Sylvia Miles in Farewell, My Lovely: Nothing about Miles' performance as Jessie Florian ever managed to really stand out to me in any truly positive or negative ways. You can visibly see Miles attempting to add some flair to this plot device of a character, but she doesn't succeed in any way that leads to anything close to Academy Award level acting. I simply just don't get this nomination, at all.

#4. Brenda Vaccaro in Jacqueline Susann's Once is Not Enough: The reason Vaccaro got an Oscar nomination amounts to nearly the exact opposite of that for Miles--she elevates an otherwise agonizingly dreary film whenever she appears onscreen. She's very funny in a somewhat cliched "desperate, sassy best friend" sidekick type of role, and gets us through some ridiculous scenes based on pure charisma. But as much as she works as something of a  soothing salve in this movie, she doesn't really dig deep enough or bring enough back story to this part. She's fun but inconsequential, which in this movie is more than enough. 

#3. Lee Grant in Shampoo: Grant is such a studied, busy actress that she can't help but bring so many diverse qualities to the character of Felicia Karpf, at the expense of fully finding the character. She's sexy, funny, bitter, pathetic, sympathetic, bitchy, and needy at various points over the course of Shampoo but these qualities never completely gel and are often at odds with one another. Still, she has so much fun with this character and does manage enough fleeting moments of passion and moving emotion to make her performance a fun ride nonetheless. I enjoyed her wildness.

#2. Lily Tomlin in Nashville: Any other year and Lily Tomlin would be an exemplary winner pick for her unique, guarded performance as Linnea. It's such an atypical choice for both the actress and the Academy, as everything great about Tomlin's performance is so subtle and unshowy. With beautiful simplicity and excellent instinctive acting she finds the emotional center of her character, a housewife yearning for something a little more in her life. Her greatest strength is her reserve, and what results is a supple and powerful performance that doesn't need histrionics or mannerisms to convey everything that this woman feels. It all feels all the more real and moving because of it.

#1. Ronee Blakley in Nashville: Over the course of what amounts of only a few brief scenes and five gorgeous musical numbers, Ronee Blakley gives an epic performance of a woman broken down by the music industry, so much so that just about all that is left is a blank, earnest sincerity. The raw amateurishness of her acting style imbues this ethereal, fleeting shell of a woman with directness and an open vulnerability. Her contributions as a songwriter cannot be overlooked--as without those gorgeous songs her character would merely be a tragic cipher, as they add so much rich context and history to her performance that comes with personal experience and passion. This is an utterly unique performance, mixing over the top breakdowns, glassy blankness, and deeply felt pathos with a musicality that somehow ends up working to beautiful effect.

The Year in Review: Despite a few lackluster nominees, the strength of the top two performances makes this an above average year for me, and the richness of Nashville as a whole places this year among my favorites I've covered. To me, the only explanation for the nominations for Miles and Vaccaro is a serious case of Nashville vote splitting, because in a just world the likes of Gwen Welles (maybe my pick), Geraldine Chaplin, and Barbara Harris at least would be among this field. Lee Grant's nomination is a little more understandable, as she is an Oscar favorite in a flashy, fun role. Her win has been decried as a makeup for her mistreatment during the anti-Communist era of Hollywood, but this performance has enough meat to it that I don't think it was that huge of a factor, especially considering a number of other things working in her favor. Now that I've officially graduated college and work are both slowing down a little, I'm hoping to get at least one or two years done in June but those are famous last words for me...

 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. Ronee Blakley in "Nashville" (1975)
  5. Catherine Zeta-Jones in "Chicago" (2002)
  6. Linda Hunt in "The Year of Living Dangerously" (1983)
  7. Anna Paquin in "The Piano" (1993)
  8. Meryl Streep in "Adaptation." (2002)
  9. Lily Tomlin in "Nashville" (1975)
  10. Cher in "Silkwood" (1983)
  11. Eileen Heckart in "The Bad Seed" (1956)
  12. Emma Thompson in "In the Name of the Father" (1993)
  13. Julianne Moore in "Boogie Nights" (1997) 
  14. Ellen Burstyn in "The Last Picture Show" (1971)
  15. Oprah Winfrey in "The Color Purple" (1985)
  16. May Whitty in "Mrs. Miniver" (1942)
  17. Patty McCormack in "The Bad Seed" (1956)
  18. Claire Trevor in "Dead End" (1937)
  19. Sandy Dennis in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966)
  20. Agnes Moorehead in "The Magnificent Ambersons" (1942)
  21. May Whitty in "Night Must Fall" (1937)
  22. Margaret Avery in "The Color Purple" (1985)
  23. Mildred Dunnock in "Baby Doll" (1956)
  24. Julianne Moore in "The Hours" (2002)
  25. Kathy Bates in "About Schmidt" (2002)
  26. Wendy Hiller in "A Man for All Seasons" (1966)
  27. Angela Lansbury in "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962)
  28. Ethel Waters in "Pinky" (1949)
  29. Amy Madigan in "Twice in a Lifetime" (1985)
  30. Meg Tilly in "Agnes of God" (1985)
  31. Teresa Wright in "Mrs. Miniver" (1942)
  32. Gloria Stuart in "Titanic" (1997)
  33. Alfre Woodard in "Cross Creek" (1983)
  34. Barbara Harris in "Who is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?" (1971)
  35. Geraldine Page in "Hondo" (1953)
  36. Lee Grant in "Shampoo" (1975)
  37. Anne Shirley in "Stella Dallas" (1937)
  38. Amy Irving in "Yentl" (1983)
  39. Kim Basinger in "L.A. Confidential" (1997)
  40. Shirley Knight in "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962)
  41. Cloris Leachman in "The Last Picture Show" (1971)
  42. Margaret Leighton in "The Go-Between" (1971)
  43. Rosie Perez in "Fearless" (1993)
  44. Mercedes McCambridge in "All the King's Men" (1949)
  45. Joan Cusack in "In & Out" (1997)
  46. Anjelica Huston in "Prizzi's Honor" (1985)
  47. Ann-Margret in "Carnal Knowledge" (1971)
  48. Gladys Cooper in "Now, Voyager" (1942)
  49. Donna Reed in "From Here to Eternity" (1953)
  50. Glenn Close in "The Big Chill" (1983)
  51. Susan Peters in "Random Harvest" (1942)
  52. Brenda Vaccaro in "Jacqueline Susann's Once is Not Enough" (1975)
  53. Vivien Merchant in "Alfie" (1966)
  54. Alice Brady in "In Old Chicago" (1937)
  55. Mary Badham in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962) 
  56. Holly Hunter in "The Firm" (1993)
  57. Queen Latifah in "Chicago" (2002)
  58. Celeste Holm in "Come to the Stable" (1949)
  59. Jocelyne LaGarde in "Hawaii" (1966)
  60. Ethel Barrymore in "Pinky" (1949)
  61. Sylvia Miles in "Farewell, My Lovely" (1975)
  62. Minnie Driver in "Good Will Hunting" (1997)
  63. Thelma Ritter in "Birdman of Alcatraz" (1962) 
  64. Winona Ryder in "The Age of Innocence" (1993)
  65. Grace Kelly in "Mogambo" (1953)
  66. Mercedes McCambridge in "Giant" (1956)
  67. Marjorie Rambeau in "Torch Song" (1953) 
  68. Elsa Lanchester in "Come to the Stable" (1949)
  69. Andrea Leeds in  "Stage Door" (1937)
  70. Geraldine Page in "You're a Big Boy Now" (1966)


Alex in Movieland said...

I wouldn't be able to keep such a ranking of all nominated performances, as I'd probably feel like changing them around all the time.
But still hard to believe Geraldine is last. :) I know it's a subjective game.

Derek Bowman said...

I've always been something of a compulsive list maker, and weirdly enough I feel pretty solid about this ranking. After spending so much time writing & thinking about each perf, most of my opinions have solidified. So barring a rewatch, I feel good about the ordering of my list and the winners. Maybe 1-2 I'd think about switching but that's it.

Alex in Movieland said...

Well, I congratulate you for the strength of your opinions. :) I go all the time like: "I actually think I like Nicole in Rabbit Hole more than I realize, and she should've been my #1"... etc etc :D

Allen said...

Great job as always! Looking forward to the next year, hopefully it's a year where I've seen at least one performance :x

Anonymous said...

This is a really great blog! I'm glad that you picked Ronee Blakley for the win, she's amazing. Tomlin is great too, the other three aren't bad but I'm not really enthusiastic about any of them and I dislike Grant as a winner (I don't even think that she was the best in Shampoo). By the way, I really like this blog and I'm really looking forward for what's next!

Anonymous said...

Hey, when will you start blogging again? I'd really like to see you reviewing another bunch of ladies :)