Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Victim's Gold Stars: Smiling From The Sidelines

Finally! Here are the Gold Stars for Best Supporting Actress- which was, incidentally, easily the most hotly contested category of them all. It was painful to cut some of the women that didn't make it; the top runners up are mentioned at the end.

I didn't like Anthony Minghella's rather silly Breaking and Entering, but the one thing I found to truly like about it was the relationship that young actor Rafi Gavron and the experienced Juliette Binoche forged between their mother and son characters. Binoche affects a convincing Eastern European accent that somehow doesn't hinder her performance at all; she's a warm, tender mother, tough and steely to those contributing to her son's downward curve; and in the scenes with Jude Law's selfish architect, she's almost heartbreakingly vulnerable.

It's so rare that comic performances are appreciated, but Miss Blunt has seemed to be an exception to the rule: everyone except the Oscars, it seems, has jumped on this bandwagon, and I'll not be one to argue. As Miranda Priestly's devoted assitant, Emily Blunt mines this ultimately sidelined part for all its worth, snapping hilariously at Anne Hathaway's naive new recruit and delivering her lines- "I'm on this new diet. Well, I don't eat anything and when I feel like I'm about to faint I eat a cube of cheese. I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight"- with a superb combination of desperation and sarcastic disbelief. She's certainly one to be watched.

Pell James' arc from virgin to slut is not as crass as it might be, if The King weren't so cleverly written, and if Miss James weren't so note perfect at fleshing out the intracies of her character. As she lies beneath Elvis' rutting body for the first time, face pressing a hard, stony rock, James gives her eyes a disturbing glaciality; this is a girl being smashed to pieces, so she can be reassembled. As The King progresses, James nails her character's progression into a strange sort of nervous control- she knows what she wants, but she also knows where the line is, and she still doesn't really understand the man she's with. Director James Marsh is said to have been glad not to have known James' true age while filming; her years certainly don't show.

Mia Kirschner's face haunts the entireity of the rather disastrous Black Dahlia, which, although I would have been happier with a better film, is rather befitting the story; Elizabeth Short haunts the men investigating her death, who descend into a total mess of drink, violence and obsession. In black-and-white film clips, Mia Kirschner makes you understand far better than any of the rest of the film why these men become so obsessed; her eyes are big pools of ghostliness, her voice cracks and wavers, her body shivers and freezes. Elizabeth Short was a good actress; Mia Kirschner, perhaps, is a great one.

It's strange how many of my choices in this category have been from films I haven't really cared for; in the case of Venus, Jodie Whittaker pierces the heart of its crass and jokey heart, a brash teenager who swoops into the lives of an aging man and turns his world upside down. The man holds her up as a goddess, as Venus; but, as Whittaker so cannily portrays, she is just a girl, full of weaknesses and imperfections, wishing to overcome them and get her head round the strange relationship she develops with this older man. Whittaker does not try hard to gain your sympathy- she plays her character with unlikeable harshness at times, but the moments when her mask slips are so unconsciously beautiful, it almost seems like she's forgotten to act and is simply being herself.

Apologies to: Cate Blanchett, Babel; Vera Farmiga, The Departed; Eva Green, Casino Royale; Keeley Hawes, Tristram Shandy; Naomie Harris, Tristram Shandy; Danny Perea, Duck Season; Annabella Sciorra, 12 and Holding; Kerry Washington, The Last King of Scotland; Emily Watson, Wah-Wah


J.D. Judge said...

Cate wasn't very good in Babel (a thing I blame on Inarritu) and I thought she was leagues better in NoaS. If I thought she was, that's all that matters!!!! :P

J.D. Judge said...

And also, I agree on Kirshner and (of course) Blunt, but with Kirshner, there's no way to have her nominated. I count her as Limited, and even that's a tough category for her not to make in, and if I were to abolish them, I can only see one of the nominee in either (male or female) have any sort of likelihood (sort of), and that's Natasha Wightman for V for Vendetta, and I don't know if that's even frickin' possible! I suck, lol.

Dave said...

I'm not gonna argue with you- it's pointless. ;) But having heard that she apparently wasn't very good in Babel, I was surprised just how strong she was. She certainly did a better job at projecting weakness than she did in Notes- she just couldn't get Sheba's wispiness. But that's just my opinion.

Kirschner was so good that I couldn't not have her here. She and James had been the only two permanents for months.

Scott said...

Wow, these are all such great picks. (Although I haven't seen Venus yet.) I'll be counting Breaking & Entering as a 2007 release, because I loved it, and I don't really want to go back and change all my awards. Juliette Binoche in particular was absolutely TO DIE FOR.

Anonymous said...

Good for juliette Binoche, but I think Cate Blanchett deserves a nomination for "Notes on a Scandal"