10.29.2006

Supporting Actress Smackdown - 1982


The Year is 1982...

And the Supporting Actress Smackdowners for October are NICK of Nick's Pick Flicks; NATHANIEL of The Film Experience, and KEN of Canadian Ken On.... But first, after a brief respite in which his contributions were much much missed, do pause to admire the wonderment of the NatReel for...


click image to be routed to The Film Experience for video

And 1982's Supporting Actresses are...
(Each Smackdowner's comments are listed in ascending levels of love. A summary comment from each Smackdowner arrives at the end. Click on the nominee's name/film to see StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sunday review.)
Glenn Close in The World According to Garp
Ken Sez...
She constantly sounds like a library lady reading to a gathering of intimidated six year olds. Enunciation just so, Close carefully assigns each sentence its own theatrical rise and fall. Demonstrating, along the way, very little faith in the audience's ability to grasp things.
Nick Sez...
As compared to the acuity of later Close performances, her Jenny Fields seems a little hazy around the edges to me. However, the actress' mercurial shifts among serenity, intensity, irony, farce, and ethereality add valuable depth to a dubious plotline.
Nathaniel Sez...
Given that Jenny is a humourless woman, the humor of this performance: all quickchange moods and matter of fact line readings is especially welcome. But even with a lesser actress, the eccentric role itself would've snagged a nomination.
Stinkylulu Sez...
Close's Nurse Jenny -- single mother and patrician New England prig-cum-radical -- hovers as a formidable and enveloping presence, the singular point of constancy for the narrative's picaresque swirl. Close's is a theatrically huge performance that, especially in moments of pungent intimacy, becomes palpably human.

Teri Garr in Tootsie
Stinkylulu Sez...
Garr's deft mix of utter cluelessness and wounded pride girds the comedy of the performance with a memorable poignancy. A prickly wisp of a performance.
Nick Sez...
I absolutely love Teri Garr in this movie for investing Sandy with such a rattle-bag of anxiety, gusto, inadequacy, and appeal, without ever being coarse or condescending. In no time at all, she's winning and warm, and a complete mess.
Nathaniel Sez...
She never topped the comedic heights she hit here but no other role ever fit her so well, did it? Isn't this manic, ditsy, self-esteem challenged actor Garr's screen persona distilled? Memorable, funny, and certainly nomination worthy.
Ken Sez...
Perpetually and hilariously lodged on the top floor of a house of cards, gales approaching from every direction, Garr is literally breathtaking as she plays non-stop ping-pong with her insecurities. One of the great comic performances - and touching too.

Jessica Lange in Tootsie
Stinkylulu Sez...
Lange's performance registers Julie's many halting steps in her transformation from a woman trapped by her pretty life to a woman willing to chart her own happiness. It's a complex character performance that never betrays the simplicity of the character -- no mean feat.
Nick Sez...
Her bruised emotional transparency, funny and gently self-mocking but palpably rueful all the same, is indispensable to the movie, never more than in the finale, when her underplayed ambivalence keeps the movie from tying too big of a bow around itself..
Ken Sez...
Her initial moments seem light as an air bubble, but that bubble soon reveals a rainbow of reflected colors. There's a lovely intimacy to her acting. And a delicate touch. Furthermore, Lange supplies "Tootsie" with something it vitally needs - fresh air.
Nathaniel Sez...
Confession: Lange is one of those acclaimed stars that I don't really get, usually finding her too mannered by half. Still, there is something about the minor demands of this role, that bring out a fine tuned perfectly realized character arc. She's luminous.

Kim Stanley in Frances
Nick Sez...
Stanley's approach is deeply, uncomfortably unusual, wielding her vocal and facial mannerisms like bludgeons, sometimes indiscriminately. And yet, her eccentricity makes Lillian a specific, desperate, and disappointed person, rather than a boring archetype..
Nathaniel Sez...
It's disturbing to watch her swat away her own awareness like its a minor annoyance. The ferocity with which she clings to simple fantasies at her daughters expense is compellingly performed. Unfortunately that's all that the role requires.
Stinkylulu Sez...
As Lillian Farmer -- the centrifugal force impelling Frances' emotionally apocalyptic downward spiral -- Kim Stanley acquits this tricksy role with savvy restraint, calibrating the bathos and the pathos of this inhuman monster mom with humane grace.
Ken Sez...
It takes her awhile to unpack just the right combination of effects. But when she does, watch out! Stanley cuts right to the complicated, thorny heart of a spotlight-hungry woman, bedeviled by the knowledge that the prize egg in her nest is a ticking time bomb.

Lesley Anne Warren in Victor/Victoria
Ken Sez...
I love this lady. So it's always bugged me that the one Warren performance I dislike is the one that got her Oscar-nominated. She exercises her inner Lina Lamont with a vengeance. But it's just a party trick - and not a good one.
Nick Sez...
Like her character, Warren's always hurling things at her co-stars and her audience: that voice, those eyes, that laugh, that bit of crockery. I appreciate and enjoy her committed lunges into wild comedy, but the routine still feels a bit limited.
Stinkylulu Sez...
Unfettered, untrammeled, utterly trashy genius abounds in Warren's performance as Norma. She never bores, often surprises (those line readings!) and -- like the best drag personas -- stays in on the joke while also completely oblivious to it. A genuine treat.
Nathaniel Sez...
With absolute commitment to a stock role (dumb blonde gangsters moll) and zealous showmanship, she raises the game of an already funny comedy. So genius that she's even hilarious from offscreen, her disembodied voice earning big laughs.

Oscar awarded Jessica Lange...


But the SMACKDOWN makes it a mathematical tie:

Teri Garr AND Jessica Lange!

Teri & Jessica end up with 3.75 hearts each.
Glenn & Lesley got 3.25 hearts each, with Kim getting an even 3.
Looks like it's time for a TIE-BREAKER (see below).

And now some "Final Thoughts" from our intrepid SMACKDOWNERS:

Stinkylulu Sez: This roster remains just startlingly accomplished. Each of these actresses work wonders in their variously limiting roles. So much so, in fact, that it's hard to think of any one of these films without remembering its nominated Supporting Actress/es right off the bat. Add to that the fact that the characters are among the more clich├ęd roles available for women -- smothering mothers, abandoned girlfriends, a breathtaking beauty of unappreciated depth -- and then imagine these roles in almost anyone else's hands... Well. The Supporting Actresses of 1982 done real good. Which is why it's so odd that Lulu can't really pick a favorite. One performance falls out of the mix purty quick (sorry Teri) but the others, just keep jockeying... Maybe that's why StinkyLulu loves 1982 so much -- it's easy to just keep thinking about these performances, over and over and over and over again which (at least for actressexuals like StinkyLulu) is the stuff of orgiastic delight. Thanks, Ladies...
Nick Sez: Nice to have a field without any stinkers, but perplexing, too, to discover that nobody stakes a definitive claim on the award. I love what Lange's performance style enables for Tootsie, leavening the calculated zaniness with credible feeling, and almost embarrassing Hoffman with her openness and honesty, so that his own performance as Dorothy, as well as Michael Dorsey's, has to work to keep pace—to deserve her, really. At the same time, I'm going to buck conventional wisdom and cast my vote for Garr. Her Sandy is just as humane and sincere a creation as Lange's Julie, but with a much wider range of tone and personality to survey in much less time, and with much less audience investment. She also, for me, scores the heartiest laugh in the movie, when she implores Michael to be honest with her, and then explodes into hysterical denials when he finally is. Garr is much more willing and able to embody a joke than Lange is, and yet, I'm not sure Michael deserves her, either. Good show..
Ken Sez: Glenn Close undoubtedly has the steel backbone to project Jenny's formidability. But steel's not the best building material for whimsy. Clearly not an incompetent performance - but an unnecessarily chilly one ... In a better adaptation of the source material Lesley Ann Warren might have shone playing Victoria. More, certainly, than Julie Andrews who, as usual, doesn't so much deliver her lines as dispense them, ever the patient and practical school nurse ... Lange and Stanley acquit themselves beautifully. But it's definitely Garr at the head of the class. She emerges from the bathroom, plunger aloft, does a quick virtuoso run up and down the comic scale - then miraculously maintains that dizzy level of accomplishment. When she makes her final exit, you want to follow her and watch THAT movie..
Nathaniel Sez: This crop of nominees are all respectable and enjoyable choices for a shortlist and one is, for me, an unqualified triumph (Warren). That the category skewed so heavily comedic in this year (only Stanley's performance is free of jokes) is yet another reminder that Oscar voters are willing to laugh, so long as the chuckles are coming from the sidelines. On another note, again and again with these smackdowns I'm reminded of how much of the acclaim that greets any actors performance is such a tangle of influences: casting, the character as written, their previous films, their chemistry with co-stars. These "contests" are truly complex. How much of it is ever the performance itself? If you shuffled the women here to each others roles, how different would the results be?.

So, lovely reader, tell the Smackdowners what YOU think!
Join the dialogue in comments. And be sure to
VOTE on who you think was

"Best Supporting Actress - 1982"!

(results here)

(And don't forget to take a gander at what's NEXT for the Supporting Actress Smackdown!)

11 comments:

NATHANIEL R said...

as usual, i love reading everyone's writeups (for readers: we have no idea until this is published what the other commentators are gonna say or how much lovin' they're giving heart-wise) and often they help me to appreciate the performances even more --although y'all have really downplayed how potent Warren is for Victor/Victoria comic classic rep.

i'm glad Ken touched on wishing people had played different roles --I know he didn't mean it in quite the same way I did but it's a fun party game to think on (well, at least for actressexuals): who could've done what?

For example: Lesley Ann Warren woulda been fine in the Teri Garr role --maybe even the Jessica roles but who else here would find it easy swimming in other roles? What would Stanley's Nurse Jenny have been like?

adam k. said...

This is really hard to choose. I suspect it was similarly hard for oscar voters to choose between these performances, so they just chose the one that made the most sense given other factors (awardage of the films, Lange's other performance, likeability of character). I probably would've done the same thing and voted Lange, who I love in Tootsie.

But if I were really voting for performance alone, I'd probably vote for Warren. But again, were I an oscar voter, I probably would've have voted just for performance alone (sorry!). Also with apologies to Garr, who would've been a fine winner if not for the embarrassment of riches to choose from.

adam k. said...

That was supposed to be "WOULDN'T have voted for performance alone"... whoops. Had to stretch out my embarrassing admission even more there.

But anyway, I vote Lange. Sorry, Leslie.

newland said...

My vote goes for Teri all the way.

Nick Davis said...

Wow – here I thought I'd be all lonely in the Garr camp. Love the love! (And it's very rare indeed that I'd be voting against Lange anywhere.)

I didn't come up with any also-rans for 1982, partly because the copy of One from the Heart I tried to rent never arrived, and partly because I couldn't bear to watch my pan&scan copy of Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Among other 1982 movies that I've already seen, none of them compare favorably to the existing field.

As for Nathaniel's interesting comment about parsing all the factors that go into an Oscar nod, I agree that a lot of these roles look really "Oscarable" on paper, though Garr's seems a little smallish. Then again, none of these performers except for Lange was at all "due" (even Stanley, who never cozied up to the movie folks), and given what we're all saying about the "stock" qualities of all of these roles, I can imagine any of them being played more blandly or more broadly and not crossing Oscar's radar at all. I do think quality of performance was a major factor in this vintage.

par3182 said...

i voted for glenn - loved her in '82, love her now. nurse jenny is indeed chilly yet close's no nonsense take on the role serves it well, and when she exits the movie it struggles without her formidable presence.

i still recommend dana hill in shoot the moon as the most deserving also-ran (and can someone tell me how diane keaton missed a best actress nom for that film?)

Nick Davis said...

Oh my god, Dana Hill! I forgot how great she was. I only remembered Karen Allen (who was well-cast and more than adequate) when I was poring over my 1982 list earlier in the day. Shoot the Moon should have scored acting, writing, and directing nods across the board, if you ask me, with Keaton and Finney at the head of the pack.

Raybee said...

My take:

1. Lange
2. Stanley
3. Close
4. Garr
5. Warren

Pretty good lineup. One of the best you've looked at so far.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Confession. I've never seen Tootsie. I think it's because Dustin in drag FREAKS ME OUT!!!

But out of the clips, I liked Teri Garr more (plus, she gets One From the Heart bonus points from me. A movie I sometimes feel that only I love immensely).

Out of the five, Warren was my fave. Love her. I like her Clue perf better, but this one was pretty damn good as well.

Cluster Funk said...

Garr all the way in my opinion. I like Jessica Lange's work in 'Tootsie,' but absolutely love Teri Garr's performance and think she's an underrated talent overall. Too bad she didn't ever get a role on par with this one, but kudos to her are definitely in order.

Marco

Vertigo's Psycho said...

Regarding Warren's one star (come on, now, she rates more than that for the myriad of vocal inflections she throws out during "Chicago, Illinois" alone). Hell is still waiting to defrost, so come on Ken, give Lesley the 5 stars you know she deserves for taking a one-note, standard dumb blonde part and turning it into something funny, memorable, and beguiling (and I'd say someone like Florence Henderson showing up as "Grandma" at the end of The Brady Bunch movie is closer to the "party trick" you refer to, while Warren in Victor gets a MVP award, as her work is on a par with Jean Hagen's Lina, and therfore constitutes one of the cinema's most colorful portrayals of a tarty blonde).