Supporting Actress, along with supporting Actor can be a strange award. Often given to the foil of the A-lister, the starlet, sometimes given to someone who pops in and out of the film in a minor but memorable role, at other times given seemingly at random to one of a large ensemble cast. The award has been notable throughout the years for hilghighting an up and comer- someone who may be making their first appearance on film and will gain eligibility for Best Actress in subsequent years. Particularly in the early years you could expect to see the less glamorous actresses be nominated in this category and in the modern era it is more likely that younger actresses, less experienced actresses, and those with some sort of American Dream type background will be nominated and win. As I’ve mentioned before I am a big fan of horror movies, of action, sci-fi, and comedies. The problem with this award and these genres are that the supporting cast are usually cannon fodder (especially in the case of horror) and are simply there to show us their breasts and blood. With comedy it becomes more difficult as you occasionally get someone who proves to be a revalation in a small accompanying role.
So, now follows my picks for Best Supporting Actress throughout the years. More interestingly (for me) will be finding my own nominations for this category and seeing how many movies from my favourite genres are included.
Goldie Hawn gets an Oscar win pre-empting her daughters nod decades later for a bright, light, eye-catching performance. Hawn shows her comic ability here, something which would continue to flourish through more well-remembered movies over the next years. It’s one of those wins which feels both apt and unusual. Catherine Burns gives an equally memorable performances for opposing reasons in Last Summer – a performance which is made more poignant given the fact that Burns only made a few more movies before retiring from acting. Dyan Cannon, continuing the trend for new or almost new actors getting a nomination, but her role may be the lesser of the four in Bob & Carol, Ted & Alice. Sylvia Miles is also memorable in Midnight Cowboy but given that her role is essentially a cameo it seems like more of a political vote than anything else while Susannah York has again a fairly small role as part of an ensemble but still does enough to ensure her scenes stand out.
My Winner: Catherine Burns.
My Nominations: Goldie Hawn. Catherine Burns. Faye Dunaway.
Two from the officials, and I’ve added only one more performer in what appears to be not the best year for this category. Faye Dunaway it could be argued is a lead in The Arrangement but I wanted to squeeze her in somewhere so here we are – it’s not a great movie but she makes it watchable.
My Winner: Catherine Burns.
Let me know in the comments who your pick for the Best Supporting Actress of 1969 is!
*Note – as I was off the grid there for a few days, I’ll promise a bonanza of posts over the next few days and into next week
Official Nominations: Ruth Gordon. Sondra Locke. Lynn Carlin. Kay Medford. Estelle Parsons.
I think Ruth Gordon is a good choice for the official win this year – it’s so rare that horror even gets nominated in the main categories, so for an actual win to occur is important. Her win is not a mere platitude on the Academy’s behalf or mine as it is a genuinely good performance. She is the overly-familiar neighbour everyone dreads having but kind of likes having, but she steadily, subtly becomes more influential and oversteps the boundary between neighbour and stalker as the film progresses though all the while she never becomes some ranting maniacal loon. This is a character grounded in reality and some sort of monstrous humanity. As a writer herself, Gordon understood character perfectly, knowing when to hold back and when to finally pull of the mask. Lynn Carlin doesn’t particularly stand out in the well acted ensemble piece Faces, while Locke does a great job in her first role in The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. Kay Medford returns to a role she had perfected on stage in Funny Girl, while Parsons got a consecutive nomination for Rachel, Rachel.
My Winner: Ruth Gordon
My Nominations: Ruth Gordon. Kim Hunter. Inger Stevens.
A fairly lackluster year this time around, with only Ruth Gordon making it over to my nominations and a mere two additions. Kim Hunter is sympathetic as Dr Zira in Planet Of The Apes one of several cast members who manage to emote under heavy make-up while Inger Stevens is a torn, loving, broken wife in Madigan, one of several films she would make an impact in throughout 1968.
My Winner: Ruth Gordon.
Let us know in the comments who your pick for the Best Supporting Actress of 1968 is!
Official Nominations: Estelle Parsons. Carol Channing. Mildred Natwick. Beah Richards. Katherine Ross.
A decent line-up of actresses who most modern viewers would not recognise as big hitters, with Estelle Parsons picking up a deserved win for her performance as Blanche Barrow – the real life Blanche did not approve. Katherine Ross plays Elaine in The Graduate with the right amount of sadness and sympathy, and Beah Richards gets a nod for Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner after also appearing in In The Heat Of The Night. Natwick reprised her stage role in a strange choice for nomination for Barefoot In The Park, and Channing is a more obvious choice as the unusual elder in Thoroughly Modern Millie – both movies do not compare with the quality of the other three and point again towards the Acadamy’s need to shoehorn in a musical and/or theatre adaptation.
My Winner: Estelle Parsons
My Nominations: Estelle Parsons. Ursula Andress. Katherine Ross. Katharine Houghton.
Two originals, and two newbs for my picks – Ross and Parsons making it over from the main list. I add the obvious choice of Houghton who was snubbed for Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, and the unusual pick of Ursula Andress doing one better than she did in Dr No by playing Vesper (and a 007) in Casino Royale.
My Winner: Estelle Parsons.
Who is your pick for the Best Supporting Actress of 1967? Let us know in the comments!
Sandy Dennis earned her only Oscar nomination and win as the meek, eventually volatile Honey in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf. By 1966, Wendy Hiller already had 2 Oscar nominations and one win to her name and with A Man For All Seasons she narrowly missed out on a second win. Jocelyne LeGarde is the stand-out performer in Hawaii, but it was the only performance she would ever give – she was a native of Tahiti and had never acted in her life before she was asked to join the cast. Starring the likes of Richard Harris, Max Von Sydow, Julie Christie, and up and comers Bette Middler and Gene Hackman, LeGarde is the most memorbale actor in a strange movie – all the more strange as it was the highest grossing movie of they year and critically acclaimed at the time, yet no-one remembers it. Vivian Merchant would have a short but acclaimed career, the high point being her debut in Alfie where she earned her only Oscar nomination as Lily. Lastly, Geraldine Page picked up her yearly nomination, this time in You’re A Big Boy Now as Margery, but misses out again on the win.
My Winner: Sandy Denis.
My Nominations: Sandy Dennis. Sarah Miles. Angie Dickinson. Sussanah Yorke. Millie Perkins.
Only Denis makes it to my odd list of choices – Sarah Miles only has a small, but memorable part in Blow-up, while Dickinson has a bit part as Brando’s loyal wife in The Chase. Sussanah Yorke gets my pick over Hiller for both A Man For All Seasons and Kaleidoscope, while Perkins is ghastly as The Woman in cult Western The Shooting.
My Winner: Millie Perkins.
Who is your pick for the Best Supporting Actress of 1966? Let us know in the comments section!
Shelley Winters deservedly picked up her 2nd Oscar for A Patch Of Blue in which she plays the violent, prostitute mother to Elizabeth Hartmann’s blind daughter. It is another varied role for the actress which sees her stretch a few boundaries and emotions. Ruth Gordon would get typecast as an eccentric old lady as her career went on, but in that role for Inside Daisy Clover it’s not difficult to see why. She plays it beautifully in a film teaming with a revolutionary spirit, never becoming wacky or weird, but keeping things grounded and realistic. Maggie Smith gives a compelling performance as Desdemona in Othello although it’s not widely different from other performances I’ve seen, while Peggy Wood gives her final on-screen showing as the popular Mother Abess in The Sound Of Music. The final nomination went to Joyce Redman for her Emilia in Othello, her second nomination in 3 years.
My Winner: Shelley Winters
My Nominations: Shelley Winters. Vivien Leigh. Ruth Gordon
I honestly can’t think of any other great performances this year, but I’ve added Vivien Leigh’s final film Ship Of Fools where she plays a drunken fool trying to relive her glory days.
My Winner: Shelley Winters.
Who is your choice of the best Supporting Actress of 1965? Let us know in the comments!
A fairly terrible year this with a bunch of ye olde stage actresses of high renown, mostly known for playing the snooty, the haughty, the high brow. The list of names even read like the cast of characters from a 19th Century Play. So out of 5 similar enough roles and performances, I have picked my winner as the actress who turns her role off its centre in Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte – it’s just enough off centre to make it more of a re-examination than a straight portrayal.
My Winner: Agnes Moorehead.
My Nominations: Agnes Moorehead. Jitsuko Yoshimura. Deborah Kerr.
A fairly rotten year for supporting actress with only Jitsuko Yoshimora as The Daughter from Onibaba and Kerr from Night Of The Iguana setting the world alight, while Moorehead is the only crossover.
My Winner: Agnes Moorehead.
Do you agree with my brazen statement that this was a crappy year for Supporting Actresses? Let us know in the comments who your picks are!
Official Nominations: Lilia Skala. Margaret Rutherford. Diane Cilento. Edith Evans. Joyce Redman.
Like many of the acting awards this year, Supporting Actress is a difficult one to call because I don’t love any of the performances. We get three fairly equal efforts from Tom Jones, Rutherford plays an aging Duchess trying to save her home in The VIPS as part of a multi star studded cast and doesnt really get enough to do to warrant the win, so my choice goes to Lilia Skala as a nun breaking boundaries by asking for help from Sidney Poitier’s African American jack of all trades in Lillies Of The Field.
My Winner: Lilia Skala
My Nominations: Lotte Lenya. Claire Bloom. Patricia Neal. Geraldine Page.
Even though it is a very small role, Rosa Klebb goes down in history as one of the great Bond villians, and one of the stronger early female characters. She is miniscule but vicious, and is one of the few bad guys that Bond gets to kill himself. Due to the legacy generated by her role in From Russia With Love, Lenya gets my win. Patricia Neal appears here instead of the Best Actress section for Hud, although her performance is strong enough to warrant selection. Bloom brings the scares in The Haunting, while multi-nominated Page gives a multi-layered performance as a jealous, scheming sister in Toys In The Attic.
My Winner: Lotte Lenya.
Feel free to add your favourite Supporting Actress of 1963 in the comments, and have a go at the poll!