Friday, May 02, 2008

Addicts 2007: Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Cate Blanchett
I'm Not There

Blanchett's gender-swapping role is indeed heavily gimmicky in nature, but I found her performance much more ingrained and valuable than a theatrical delve into masculinity. Dylan’s showy physical shtick (his ticks and false bravado) are part of his iconography, and it’s Blanchett’s job to be this impenetrable figure. Of the entire ensemble she is the name BOB DYLAN; the media play-thing, the token rebel, the asshole, and so her role can’t really be pigeon-holed as anything, and neither can she. The success of I’m Not There, and Blanchett herself, is solidified in that her creation doesn't come across as gender-specific, and I’m sure that the Bob Dylan of old wouldn’t acknowledge Blanchett’s version as either male or female (if indeed acknowledge it at all). That’s entirely the point of her performance, and she hammers it home admirably.

Juliet Ellis
It's A Free World...

The reluctant sidekick to Wareing's opportunisitic businesswoman, Rose acts as Angie's moral conscience. Although the two women are essentially a team Ellis knows when to allow Wareing the floor and how much of it to allow. Conservative by nature but a politically passive exponent of Loach's liberal politics, she tackles the flames of Wareing's fiery leading woman, yet shies away from being the superior disapproving friend too often. Ellis gives Rose the self-assurance and social awareness that marks her as a less volatile and desperate creature to her friend, and as a contrast, it helps to make It's a Free World... seem a more careful and ruminative piece than it otherwise might have become.

Jennifer Garner

We've already judged Garner two minutes into her performance. A suburban housewife who sees a baby as the must-have accessory for any bourgeois middle-class couple. But that's because it's what we want to see, and on a repeat viewing it's clear that she doesn't see the role of Vanessa in this way at all, really understanding her purpose in Juno's life. Perhaps guilty of being an obsessive, cautious pessimist Garner's Vanessa is uptight and nowhere close to being likeable. She has all of the environmental factors of a materialist but little of the character, and none of the nature. Backward in coming forward she quickly becomes one of the few non-judgemental characters in the film, and grows into someone worth your sympathy and attention. A performance that stays with you when all is said and done.

Eva Mendes
We Own The Night

Most films are keen to integrate their 'wronged woman' in a way of getting at their precious leading man, and his moral arc. Mendes has more than one opportunity to play her character this way, and, though she can vent her wrath with the best of them, never shies away from her own fragmented mess. In some ways she is blessed, because the film seems keen to give her some individuality, but amidst an airstrike of family politics and exhilarating detective chase she still embeds herself in your mind as the true dilemna of the film. The outsider looking into a world she knows little about.

Tilda Swinton
Michael Clayton

It's to her incredible credit that Tilda Swinton's Karen Crowther veers so far from villainry 101, even in Michael Clayton's more routine moments. Villains are scarcely afforded a breakdown scene in a bathroom. After all, moments of inhibited weakness and vulnerability (excluding hangups about physical appearance) do not fit the 'cold bitch' stereotype. But Swinton re-fashions a hard-faced, ruthless businesswoman into someone bound by a system, acting on their capable but decidedly worn and unsteady feet. It's fascinating character work, and a rich injection into Michael Clayton's smart, slick, but cruisingly familiar setup. If only because she isn't the false, catty corporate representative that one has come to expect. It's a wonder then that her performance won her an Oscar -- the best performance in at least a decade to do so.

Winner: Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton
Runner Up: Jennifer Garner - Juno

Sad to Exclude: Natalie Portman, who shines as a gambling addict in Wong Kar Wai's My Blueberry Nights. Saoirse Ronan's oscar-nominated turn in Atonement is mature, measured and hella effective. Vanessa Ferlito is the best of the Death Proof girls, and well worth the price of admission alone.

1 comment:

J.D. said...

I love both the Garner mention and your paragraph for her, Cal. :)