Thursday, April 01, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks: Best Supporting Actor & Actress Winners (Oscars Edition)


For the 13th week of 2021 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We return to the Oscars in the subject of Best Supporting Actor/Actresses winners as it’s the role where it’s the supporting players that get the spotlight as some tend to be better than the leads themselves. Yet, there’s also those that tend to win mainly out of category fraud or in just bad taste. Here are my three picks of these wrong choices:

Best Supporting Actor

1. John Mills-Ryan's Daughter
John Mills without question is a great actor and certainly one of the finest to come out of Britain yet his performance as the mentally-challenged village idiot in David Lean’s romantic epic isn’t just a bad performance but serves no purpose to the film’s narrative about an Irish woman who marries an older man and then has an affair with a PTSD British officer that becomes scandal. All he does it witness and do some sort of pantomime as it’s kind of the definition of someone going full-retard. Chief Dan George’s performance in Little Big Man is way more interesting as he should’ve won as Mills’ win felt more like a win for his career achievement than his performance.

2. Melvyn Douglas-Being There
I have no issue with Melvyn Douglas’ performance as an ailing millionaire who is charmed by a simpleton gardener whom he believes is a man of great wisdom and such. It's a performance that has Douglas not really doing much at all but spend half of the film lying in bed and talking. The fact that he beat Robert Duvall for his performance in Apocalypse Now and Frederic Forrest for The Rose just feels wrong.

3. Cuba Gooding Jr.-Jerry Maguire
A performance that hasn’t aged well largely due to the fact that the character is nothing more than an underappreciated loudmouth who believes in his own hype and makes his agent lose all of his other clients to an asshole. Gooding is good in the film but he kind of overdoes it as he just spends much of the film acting like an entitled asshole. His win also doesn’t age well considering that he would later appear in some of the worst films ever made. Plus, the fact that his performance beat such better performances such as William H. Macy for Fargo and Edward Norton for Primal Fear is proof of how wrong the Oscars can be.

Best Supporting Actress

1. Jennifer Connelly-A Beautiful Mind
Jennifer Connelly is an amazing actress yet her win really feels more like an apology from the Oscars for not considering her work in a much better film in Requiem for a Dream. Plus, it’s a performance that is clichéd as the supporting wife of a mentally-ill mathematician as it really does nothing to break out of its conventions. Adding insult to the win is the fact that Connelly went up against better performances from both Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith from Gosford Park, Kate Winslet in Iris, and Marisa Tomei in In the Bedroom while other actresses that could’ve been nominated are Laura Elena Harring for Mulholland Dr. and Scarlett Johansson for either Ghost World or The Man Who Wasn’t There.

2. Renee Zellweger-Cold Mountain
A performance that is a definition of Oscar-bait though it really feels more like the Academy giving Zellweger her Oscar since she didn’t win the year before for Chicago. It’s not a bad performance as a country bumpkin who helps out Nicole Kidman but it tends to go into the realm of over-acting. Zellweger beat the likes of Shoreh Aghdashloo for House of Sand and Fog, Patricia Clarkson for Pieces of April, and Holly Hunter for Thirteen which weren’t just better performances but an example of women who just act and don’t try to be showy or vain in their performance.

3. Melissa Leo-The Fighter
A performance that is overblown, over-acted, and really loud to the point that when my dad watched the film, he hated it and said “she won the Oscar? She’s awful!” Adding to the stain of that win was an Oscar campaign that should never gotten a lot of attention as Leo didn’t just beat her fellow co-star and fellow nominee Amy Adams in the same film. The Oscar really should’ve gone to Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit, Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech, or the real pick in Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom. Weaver’s performance is far more interesting as the mother of a crime family instead of a loudmouth mother who was a bad influence to her two sons and did nothing but hold them back.

© thevoid99 2021


joel65913 said...

I agree with you that every one of your choices should have gone to someone else.

The most painful of these is John Mills, a performer who gave many award level performances just not the one he won for. The award that year belonged to Gene Hackman for I Never Sang for My Father which by the way is where Melvyn Douglas should have won his second award after his richly deserved first for Hud.

It seems incredible now that Cuba beat Edward Norton in Primal Fear but it was a popular pick at the time.

I could say the same for Jennifer Connelly and Helen Mirren though at least Helen did eventually win.

I can't believe the terrible Zellweger has any Oscars let alone two and the fact that she beat out Shoreh Aghdashloo's glorious work is galling. Just as much as Leo beating Jackie Weaver.

I chose three of each as well but for ones where I think the Academy chose wisely.

The Razor’s Edge (1946)-Anne Baxter-Larry Darrell (Tyrone Power) disillusioned by WWI drifts through Europe looking for life’s meaning. In Paris he becomes reacquainted with childhood friend Sophie MacDonald (Baxter) who he remembers as a happy wife and mother. Having lost her family when a drunk smashed into their car Larry finds her a broken, drug addicted prostitute and tries to help her but her sorrows run too deep.

The Last Picture Show (1971)-Cloris Leachman-In the slowly dying North Texas town of Anarene high school senior Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) drifts into an affair with the coach’s wife Ruth Popper (the recently departed Cloris Leachman). Though it commences more out of ennui than true feeling their involvement soon causes profound changes to both.

The Year of Living Dangerously-Linda Hunt-Well connected photographer Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt) takes inexperienced correspondent Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson) under his wing upon Guy’s arrival in Jakarta. As political tension roils and then escalates to the boiling point both their lives as well as that of diplomat Jill Bryant (Sigourney Weaver) hang by a thread.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)-Harold Russell-At the end of WWII three servicemen return to their hometown to find their way of life radically changed. One of the men Homer Parrish has lost his hands in an explosion, while he has adjusted to living with the hooks that replaced them, he finds the world is a vastly different place for him. Russell, who had suffered the same sort of injury, wasn’t a professional actor but his performance is naturalistic and immensely impactful.

All About Eve (1950)-George Sanders-In the Broadway world of stage star Margo Channing (Bette Davis) urbane, venomously acerbic and powerful theatre critic Addison DeWitt (Sanders) is tolerated but not liked. Still when Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) insinuates herself into Margo’s good graces it’s Addison who sees through her sweetness to the vicious climber underneath. My favorite Supporting Actor winner, a perfect meeting of actor and role.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)-Gig Young-In the soul crushing world of Depression era marathon dances resides opportunistic promoter and emcee Rocky Gravo (Young) a man devoid of scruple or compassion. He sees the contestants-including hard bitten Gloria (Actress nominee Jane Fonda), glamour girl wannabe Alice (Supporting Actress nominee Susannah York), broken down Sailor (Red Buttons) and audience surrogate Robert (Michael Sarrazin)-as so much fodder to be made money off until they lose their usefulness and are thrown away. The deeply troubled Young (he ultimately killed himself and his fifth wife in a murder/suicide) was a preeminent comic actor for years before this revelatory performance.

Dell said...

Some great choices, here. Love that you included Melissa Leo. I feel like she gets forgotten, a lot.

Cinematic Delights said...

Interesting picks. I have only seen Jerry Maguire and Cold Mountain, and in both cases I agree with your views - I only remember Cruise and Zellweger from Jerry Maguire and I barely remember anything about Cold Mountain except that Nicole Kidman is in it...

Brittani Burnham said...

Your first two picks I haven't seen but I've seen the rest and I like those performances too. Glad to see some love for Melissa Leo. I really enjoyed The Fighter.

Sonia Cerca said...

I haven't seen the others, but I don't remember Connelly and Zellweger's performances at all, which could only mean they were not that memorable. It makes me quite angry to think that Cuba won instead of Norton as he was terrific in Primal Fear.

SJHoneywell said...

Marisa Tomei not winning for In the Bedroom is so damn frustrating. She's so good in that--she often seems overlooked because of her win for My Cousin Vinny that so many people seemed to object to. She regularly turns in such good and nuanced work (The Wrestler, for instance) that it just kills me when she gets beaten by a lesser performance.

You're right about Mills winning as a career Oscar. I hate that so much.

Birgit said...

I love your theme within a theme. I didn't mind Zellweger in Cold Mountain but she is an actress I just don't care for. I felt there was some injustice done to poor John Mills playing the village idiot and he didn't deserve the Oscar. That Oscar belonged to Chief Dan George who was great in anything he did. I thought the Fighter was a good film but I don't remember at all which says something. Cuba should never have won for this film as I found his role in this over done and annoying. I would have gone for Macy in Fargo. I like your theme.

Ruth said...

I love that you went with those who did not deserve to win. We talked about Melissa Leo on my blog already, I actually think Cuba Gooding Jr. was memorable in Jerry Maguire but you're right, probably hasn't aged well. Boy I barely remember Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind!

Katy said...

Solid picks! I quite liked Cuba and Melissa in The Fighter, but anyone else could've won in those categories and it would've been all right. As much as I like Renee, I agree that her win for Cold Mountain was a cover-up for losing for Chicago. The Academy's done that a lot, and it's even similar to veterans winning one for a lesser role than earlier better performances they've given.

thevoid99 said...

@joel65913-Cloris Leachman was great in The Last Picture Show as I'm going to miss her because she was always fun to watch.

@Wendell-It should be forgotten since it was just a loud and grating performance as the only people should remember is why Oscar campaigns should be forbidden.

@Cinematic Delights-Cold Mountain hasn't aged well as it's become one of those Oscar-bait films that seemed remarkable at the time but now you realize that it's got a lot of flaws.

@Brittani-I don't have love for Melissa Leo as I hate that performance.

@Sonia-Yes, Norton should've won instead as Cuba just became a fucking joke after he won.

@SJHoneywell-Glad to know someone agrees with me on John Mills. I love the guy but man, he was horrendous in that film.

@Birgit-Glad to see some love for Chief Dan George.

@Ruth-I never understood what was so great about A Beautiful Mind as I found it to be boring.

@Katy-I'm glad someone else thinks the way I think here about Renee's win.