Best Supporting Actress – 1978

Official Nominations: Maggie Smith. Dyan Cannon. Penelope Milford. Maureen Stapleton. Meryl Streep.

One thing that has been reinforced as I go through these Oscar posts is the fact that some of these performers and directors – even though they were nominated for, and in some cases won – the most prestigious award in all of entertainment, have all but disappeared from public consciousness. This happens almost every year, and you can tell in the Awards in recent years that there will be that nominated performer who most people will never hear from again. Then again, providing that person still works, all it takes is one more appearance in a hit movie or show, or one more appearance in something ‘important’ to put them back into the hearts and minds of the masses. I always used to assume that once you made it, you had made it for life. And while that is true to some extent – they can’t ever take away what you achieved – it doesn’t mean you’re going to be remembered. This is even more prevalent in music – look at some of the artists of the 1930s-1960s – people who sold millions of copies, toured the world, and had numerous number 1 albums and songs – almost no-one today knows they exist.

Which brings me back to this category – Meryl Streep everyone knows, and the same goes for Maggie Smith. Maybe without Downton Abbey she’d have fallen by the wayside. Aww balls, there’s a Downton Abbey movie coming out this year (time of writing, 4.07pm GMT 26th March 2019) so she’s bound to get a stupid Oscar Nomination for it, assuming she’s in it. Maureen Stapleton… most more dedicated film fans will know her but if you only watch recent stuff then obviously you will be less familiar. The other two nominees; you’d struggle to find anyone on the street who would know who they are. Case in point – Dyan Cannon was married to Carey Grant and was nominated for three Oscars, yet she’s not exactly a household name. She did have a prominent return in the late 90s with a recurring role in Ally McBeal – that show that made idiots want to be lawyers. She has a definite comic flair, hence her nomination this year in Heaven Can Wait. Penelope Milford is even less well known, due to appearances in lesser films, and on stage. Nevertheless, she netted Coming Home yet another acting nomination this year as the sister to one of the returning vets who has to deal with the fallout of their trauma.

Maggie Smith won her second Oscar this year for California Suite in which she ironically plays a down on her luck actress who has just received her first Oscar nomination. For me, not a huge fan of Neil Simon’s work, it’s an okay film and an okay performance in a weak year for actresses. Meryl Streep then, in one of her true breakout roles, even though she’d already been good before this. As much as I love The Deer Hunter, Streep doesn’t have all that much to do in the film and it’s a fairly bland role. She isn’t weak by any means, but this is a film about the male performances and if it was any smaller name here instead of Streep, you’d forget her. That leaves Maureen Stapleton for Interiors. Woody Allen movies aren’t usually my thing, and while Stapleton gets plenty of mileage out of the loud and uncouth woman trope, it’s again not something I would pick. A weak year then, so most people will go with their preference. Smith seems like the most obvious choice.

My Winner: Maggie Smith

My Nominations: Maggie Smith. Linda Manz. Brooke Shields. Dyan Cannon.

I go for a couple of child performances this year. Brooke Shields, as the young girl being brought up in a whorehouse, is particularly strong but it probably deserves to be in the Best Actress category. The year is weak though, so I’m adding it here. Linda Manz is the young sister of our anti-hero in Days Of Heaven and acts as the narrator so we see the film technically through her eyes – potentially making her a contender for lead too. I don’t know anymore – it’s a good performance in a bad year.

My Winner: Brooke Shields

Best Supporting Actress – 1977

Official Nominations: Vanessa Redgrave. Melinda Dillon. Leslie Browne. Quinn Cummings. Tuesday Weld.

It’s another unimpressive list on the surface, with Vanessa Redgrave finally walking away with her win as Julia. Part of me knows it’s a win due to her other performances over the years, but it remains a good showing for the actress. The unfortunately named Quinn Cummings only appeared in a couple of movies, in The Goodbye Girl she’s okay in the role of annoying smartass child while Leslie Browne is a real life dancer thrown into the deep end with a role in The Turning Point which required a better actress. Melinda Dillon is the petrified mother from Close Encounters who sees a UFO and goes on an obsessive romp around the country with Richard Dreyfuss – again decent, but not sure it’s award worthy, while Tuesday Weld plays Diane Keaton’s sister in Looking For Mr Goodbar and is good enough to hold her own.

My Winner: Vanessa Redgrave

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My Nominations: Joan Bennett. Barbara Bach. Sissy Spacek.

I’m not sure any of this year’s performances are genuinely good enough to warrant a nomination and I don’t personally love them enough to pick them myself, which is what these posts are all about. In that case it’s a new batch of nominees. You could just as easily take Alida Valli for Susperia, but I think Joan Bennett edges it for me – two old Hollywood matriarchs lending class to the otherwise creepy proceedings. It’s not often anyone mentions Bond girls for awards, but Barbara Bach was one of the first Bond girls who stood out from the pack, as a character and as a performer – her Agent XXX every bit the spy as Bond himself. Sissy Spacek gets a nod from me for her performance in 3 Women. Normally I wouldn’t say any of these performances are strong enough to win, but it’s slim pickings. When in doubt, go with your favourite.

My Winner: Barbara Bach

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Supporting Actress – 1976

Official Nominations: Beatrice Straight. Jane Alexander. Jodie Foster. Lee Grant. Piper Laurie.

This should be fairly straight-forwards. Beatrice Straight was your official winner this year, but she’s the first to get dropped from my list – nothing wrong with the performance, but it’s clearly a veteran nod and she’s only in the film for a handful of minutes. Lee Grant is next to go – Voyage Of The Damned a strange film in that it has a superb case but was pretty much ignored by critics and audiences and has never found a following. It feels like a timely film deserving of being retold in today’s climate of political inhumanity and immigration paranoia. Grant is good, but nothing out of the ordinary. I feel similar about Jane Alexander in All The President’s Men. That leaves the two best picks – Jodie Foster as the young, very young, prostitute in Taxi Driver – as brave a performance as you’re every likely to see, and obvious from the first moment that she would become a star. Finally, Piper Laurie as Carrie’s mother is a terrifying vision of closet religion or Christian zealotry, using her past sins and guilt to drive her daughter to murderous insanity. After a fifteen year break from the industry, it’s one of the finest return performances in movie history.

My Winner: Piper Laurie

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My Nominations: Piper Laurie. Jodie Foster. Billie Whitelaw.

If we’re nominating people for very small roles, then one of the most memorable supporting performances of 1976 is that of Billie Whitelaw as Damien’s Nanny in The Omen. Indeed, it’s the only addition I’m making this year – the creepy nanny trope has been around for decades, but Whitelaw’s performance is the pinnacle. To keep things fair, I’ll give Foster the win this time around.

My Winner: Jodie Foster

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Supporting Actress – 1975

Official Nominations: Lee Grant. Ronee Blakely. Lily Tomlin. Sylvia Miles. Brenda Vaccaro

Lee Grant picked up the official win this year for Shampoo, continuing her successful return from blacklisting – a good performance but a win that nevertheless feels like an apologetic gift. Ronee Blakely and Lily Tomlin both shine in Nashville as the up and coming sweetheart and the established Gospel singer respectively. Sylvia Miles gets her second bizarre nomination for a film she barely appears in – Farewell, My Lovely, while Brenda Vaccaro’s nomination is equally strange – an okay performance in an okay film no-one remembers.

My Winner: Ronee Blakely

My Nominations: Ronee Blakely. Lily Tomlin. Karen Black. Veronica Cartwright

Only the two Nashville stars make it over and are joined by… another Nashville star! Karen Black gets her second nomination of the year. Cartwright is certainly game in Inserts but this is a year where there aren’t many memorable performances in this category.

My Winner: Ronee Blakely

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Supporting Actress – 1974

Official Nominations: Ingrid Bergman. Valentina Cortese. Madeline Kahn. Diane Ladd. Talie Shire.

Few arguments this time with the nominations, the obvious choice to drop though being Valentina Cortese for the now little known Truffaut classic Day For Night. Diane Ladd follows Burstyn’s lead in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore – being essentially a road movie, there are any number of notable supporting performances, but they are all fairly small, yet each stands out in its own way, a testament to the quality of the cast and the director. Madeline Kahn featured in both of the Mel Brooks hits this year, but it’s Blazing Saddles where she got a deserving nomination, while Talia Shire further bolsters the foundations laid out previously as Connie Corleone tries to grow out of the shadow of her family. Finally, Ingrid Bergman picked up her third Oscar for Murder On The Orient Express, a performance which is almost entirely focused on a single scene, but it’s one which will stay in the viewer’s mind.

My Winner: Talia Shire

My Nominations: Ingrid Bergman. Madeline Kahn. Diane Ladd. Talie Shire. Valerie Curtin. Margot Kidder.

I only add two further nominations to the four carried over – Valerie Curtin as the shy counterpoint to Diane Ladd in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Margot Kidder for her… well, I don’t want to spoil Black Christmas now, do I?

My Winner: Talia Shire

Best Supporting Actress – 1973

Official Nominations: Tatum O’Neal. Linda Blair. Candy Clark. Madeline Kahn. Sylvia Sidney.

It’s the year of the kids, with Tatum O’Neal picking up a win, making her the youngest winner ever. Most would not argue against it – she is precocious and has a great rapport with her father and the rest of the cast, but I don’t think she’s necessarily better than any number of child performers through the years. Linda Blair is slightly older, but still in the child range, and gives a more varied and… energetic performance? It’s certainly the tougher role, and while a lot of it is spent lying down and behind make-up and aided by other voice actors, there is more than enough substance in her own work to warrant a win. She is put through some torturous scenes while balancing those with the early and final scenes where she is a normal girl. Candy Clark’s nomination is a strange one – you usually don’t see actors get nominated for these sort of extreme ensemble movies where there are so many performers sharing little screen time. I’ve always thought that one area where American Graffiti is lacking is in the portrayal of the female characters – you watch the movie and none of the women stick out. She did go on to play Buffy’s mum in the movie version, so that’s something. Madeline Kahn’s nomination and performance got her noticed enough that she went on to appear in a string of comedy hits, she’s good but I never felt the role to be of much consequence. Sylvia Sidney’s nomination is another veteran nod in a film most people forget about shortly after watching.

My Winner: Linda Blair

My Nominations: Tatum O’Neal. Linda Blair. Jennifer Salt. Britt Ekland

It’s another year where the roster is looking pretty thin. Jennifer Salt ably backs up Margot Kidder in De Palma’s Sisters – it’s another DePalma film and another performance deserving of reevaluation. Britt Ekland makes up the final nomination – her performance in The Wicker Man more than proving her acting chops, although her speaking and singing voices were dubbed by other people so does it really count? See, tough year.

My Winner: Linda Blair.

Let us know in the comments who you would pick as the Best Supporting Actress of 1973!

Best Supporting Actress – 1972

Official Nominations: Eileen Heckart. Jeannie Berlin. Geraldine Page. Susan Tyrrell. Shelly Winters.

What is it with this category? Why is it always crappy? Heckart won for a film most people don’t know and feels like one of those ‘well, she’s been around for decades so we’d better nominate her’. It’s fine, but nothing out of the ordinary. Jeannie Berlin gets a nomination as the slighted newlywed in The Heartbreak Kid – again, fine. Geraldine Page and another movie most people will never see – Pete ‘n’ Tillie (told ya). Guess what? Fine, nothing more, but she’s barely there. Susan Tyrrell and Fat City? Well, at least this one is interesting and probably the best performance of the bunch. Finally, Shelly Winters gets another nomination in what is the most memorable performance of the bunch. Really, any pick here as as good as another, but I do like the whole world-weary drunk thing so…

My Winner: Susan Tyrrell.

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My Nominations: Talia Shire. Diane Keaton. Ida Lupino. Natalya Bondarchuk. Anne Bancroft.

I’m going to have to go Godfather again in this category. Both Keaton and Shire don’t have a huge amount to do in Part 1, but both are strong contenders in the early days of their careers. While Keaton has more depth, Shire garners more sympathy and passion from the audience as a character. I’ll throw a good old veteran nomination out there – Lupino never got one, but she gets one from me, this year as the distressed and tired mother of Steve McQueen in Junior Bonner. Natalya Bondarchuk is ghostly and tormented in Solaris while Anne Bancroft is strong once again in Young Winston.

My Winner: Talia Shire.

 

Best Supporting Actress – 1971

Official Nominations: Cloris Leachman. Ellen Burstyn. Ann-Margret. Barbara Harris. Margaret Leighton.

Again the category is stacked with The Last Picture Show choices – Cloris Leachman picked up the win with Ellen Burstyn not far behind. Ann-Margret in the controversial Carnal Knowledge seems like a strange choice given how controversial that movie was – she won the Golden Globe though, so clearly there was a lot of love for the performance. Barbara Harris doesn’t need to be here for Plaza Suite and The Go-Between sees a good Margaret Leighton performance but not one we can pick over the others.

My Winner: Cloris Leachman

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My Nominations: Cloris Leachman. Ellen Burstyn. Ann-Margret. Julie Dawn Cole. Cybill Shepherd.

I always seem to have difficulty filling this category – mirroring the men’s catgeory I round out the nominatinos for The Last Picture Show and add Cybill Shepherd. Even though she’s annoying, you really can’t forget her – Veruca Salt, thanks to Julie Dawn Cole. 

My Winner: Cloris Leachman

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Supporting Actress – 1970

Official Nominations: Helen Hayes. Karen Black. Lee Grant. Sally Kellerman. Maureen Stapleton.

Unusually, Helen Hayes was the first person to win in both Lead and Supporting categories with her win for Airport this year. I would have assumed such an event occurred much earlier, but there ya go. Airport is a strange one – it’s not a film, or perhaps more accurately, it’s not a genre that you think of when you think of award winning performances. The Hayes win is a strange one, clearly The Academy handed the award to her for years of service, but then she already had one so…

At the other end of the road was Karen Black, just staring out on her career and having already cemented herself as something of a potential cult icon thanks to her appearance in Easy Rider. In Five Easy Pieces she gets to truly show her chops – no mean feat when she was doing it alongside Jack Nicholson. She is Nicholson’s bit on the side for the duration of the movie, using her sexually, reluctantly dragging her along wherever he goes, and while we see her through his eyes for most of the film Black’s performance stands out on its own in showing a woman with flaws and dreams as much as Bobby. Lee Grant also received a veteran nomination, though her career had been on the rise in recent years. The Landlord is another interesting one, a low budget discourse on racial tension and the desire of the young to be free of the expectations of the old, funny and sad together. Grant’s performance is okay, not a huge role, but fine. Sally Kellerman got a strange nomination for an ensemble piece where the men are the major focus, and Maureen Stapleton received her second nomination as the wife of Airport’s central antagonist. All fine performances, but there’s one clear winner here.

My Winner: Karen Black.

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My Nominations: Karen Black. Susan Anspach. Tuesday Weld. Susan Sarandon.

Only Karen Black makes it over to my list, and joining her is her Five Easy Pieces co-star Susan Anspach – a temptress and escape for Jack Nicholson’s character but one who refuses to be part of is roaming. Tuesday Weld is a different sort of temptress for a different sort of man in I Walk The Line, while Susan Sarandon makes a decent entrance as the runaway daughter of a man sick of counter-culture in Joe. Yeah, I couldn’t think of too many other performances this year I loved.

My Winner: Karen Black.

Let us know in the comments who you think should have won the Best Supporting Actress award for 1970!

Best Supporting Actress – 1969

What day is it? Yeah, I’ve been off the grid for a while opening all my Christmas toys and mourning the passing of more cultural legends. Double posts now to catch up!

Official Nominations: Goldie Hawn. Catherine Burns. Dyan Cannon. Sylvia Miles. Susannah York.

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.

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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.

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Let me know in the comments who your pick for the Best Supporting Actress of 1969 is!