Supporting Actress Smackdown - 1983

Due to a major editing error on my part, the Smackdown has been revised, reorganized and re-tallied to more accurately reflect the contributions of all the Smackdowners who submitted. My apologies for any/all confusion. 12:08pm. 6/28/08

The Year is...

And the Smackdowners for the 56th Annual Academy Awards are...
of Tea To Pour
BROOKE of The Performance Review
ENCORE of Encore Entertainment
of Low Resolution
of RacsO Ledger
of The Supporting Actress
of The Silver Screening Room
yours truly, STINKYLULU.

And for your viewing pleasure, consider this capture of the actual ceremony...

click image to be routed to video

1983's Supporting Actresses are...
(Each Smackdowner's comments are arranged according to ascending levels of love. Click on the nominee's name/film to see StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Sunday review.)

ENCOREAt first glance you're impressed because she plays subdued well, but you look again and it doesn't really add up. A noble effort, but she playing it ends up being a character and not a person.
The part's sketchy, and the film doesn't always know what to do with her, but Cher gives her role some appealingly playful rowdiness in her early scenes and shows a relaxed interplay with Streep and Russell. Pretty good work.
Cher’s deglammed portrayal of the grubby Dolly dismantles the performer’s glittering celebrity persona and proclaims the arrival of a serious acting talent. A simple, sensitive and significant performance.
The only thing we really know about Dolly Pelliker is that she is in love with Karen Silkwood, but Cher manages to still make Dolly enigmatic and intriguing. Whose side is she on? That Cher doesn’t make this clear complicates this picture considerably.
Without ever being the centre of attention, Cher crafts a character through many minor notes and beats and navigates a late-game and slow burning twist with remarkable nuance.
Cher proved herself as a talented actress in this raw and heartbreaking performance. Dolly is depressed and lonely for love, and Cher fully delievers the goods.
WALTER“I don’t mean I love you, too.” Subtle and wonderful. Holy crap do I love Cher.
Not to be a cliché, but she's wonderful. Enigmatic enough that even the camera holds her at a distance, but Cher makes Dolly familiar and her struggles -- while firmly on the margins of the story -- feel real.
Underplayed but striking. It’s as if she was not acting at all because her performance came out so naturally. She does not have those obvious Oscar-grabbing moments, but her whole performance gives the full experience.
TOTAL: 34s

Glenn Close in The Big Chill
JOETo her credit, she's absolutely the brightest thing about a movie I (somewhat unexpectedly) viscerally disliked. She makes sure her character has more going on internally than the clichés the script handed out. Still, there's only so far she can go.
DOUGLAS RACSOI think she got nominated because she got the emotional parts, crying during dinner and all that mush. But other than playing her part well I just do not get this nomination. She was good and all but I think that she did not shine, nor stood out, much more, give an Oscar calibre performance.
MATTGlenn Close contributes a needed calm, centered persona, providing a fairly effective contrast to the rest of The Big Chill's rambunctious bunch. She's watchable, but her mature, serene presence is also the least interesting of the movie's marvelous ensemble.
REGGIEGlenn as Sarah is pretty good...she really adds a lot to the movie. Her big scene with Mary Kay Place was excellent, I thought. So, good performance.
BROOKE CLOUDBUSTERClose plays her role in this adeptly, but without any of her now-characteristic edge or intensity. The nature of the role doesn’t help her, sketchily written and within narrow boundaries, but this is like getting Rembrandt to colour-by-numbers.
WALTERThe talk on the porch. So full of wisdom gained, dreams deferred, lingering regret, that overall air of “where did it go”. Beautifully done, and the sobbing in the shower scene serves as just icing on the cake.
ENCOREShe doesn't overplay the role and go for loudness. It's almost as if we can feel what she's thinking. From the first shot I was hooked and haven't looked back since.
STINKYLULUStill waters run very, very deep in Glenn Close’s Sarah. With meticulous generosity, Close crafts a haunting portrait of unarticulated grief. And that Close makes the idiotic “here, make a baby with my husband!” bit feel almost real? Now there’s some exceptional actressing.
AARONThis role could have been boring and suffering, but instead it is nuanced and beautiful. Close allows us to understand Sarah, emerging slowly from her immediate grief into a more powerful sadness and calm. A great performance.
TOTAL: 30s

STINKYLULUHunt's accomplishment in the role of Billy Kwan – both in terms of craftsmanship and emotional intensity – is utterly unique and, often, simply marvelous. I adore the fact of Linda Hunt, yet Weir’s cynical construction of the role sours me on the performance.
AARONI assume the gender switch is supposed to add to Billy’s mysteriousness. Instead it reads as gimmicky and works to distance us from his journey. Hunt’s physical work is often excellent, but the whole is rather disconnected.
ENCOREThis performance left me feeling a little cold. She's not a bad man, but that doesn't mean it's a great performance. It's not a bad performance, but I was just I didn't care for it.
JOEThe reasons she won are certainly cynical (not just the novelty of the performance but also the nature of the role), but Hunt really does deliver a spirited performance. In a weak field, she probably deserves to place.
WALTERAbsolutely incredible. Though Gibson and Weaver are fine, the film only truly comes alive when Hunt is on screen. That last sequence leading up to the hotel – breathtaking.
DOUGLAS RACSOShe was the heart and conscience of this movie and she stole every scene she was in. She totally deserves the nomination, and the win, is something you would have to wait for if I think she deserves it.
BROOKE CLOUDBUSTERHunt plays all the sides and facets of Billy Kwan with equal amounts of depth and clarity, but her key success is never mistaking a moral compass for beatification. Brilliance distilled.
REGGIENo matter what sex, whoever played this character, man or woman, would have won the Oscar. Billy Kwan is happy, mysterious, and longing for some companionship....not to mention the fact, Hunt totally slips into her character and had me convinced to this day.
MATTA gender-bending feat that never feels false or gimmicky; Hunt convinces us with her magically engrossing voice and authority. Our ambassador to Weir's shadow-puppet world, her Billy Kwan is both puppet and master – one who manipulates events, yet is tragically controlled by his idealism.
TOTAL: 34s

Amy Irving in Yentl
JOEUmm ... oy? I'm not sure how else to sum up this performance. Even if the stilted awkwardness is intentional (I'm sure it is), it's so one-dimensional that it's hard to give her credit. Might have deserved that Razzie nod, though.
WALTERSmall wonder that this is the only Academy Award nominee to also be nominated for a Razzie. What is this role? Lifeless, dead-eyed, dull – not that there’s much to work with. Disappointing.
DOUGLAS RACSOIrving’s performance was nearly wallpaper for the movie, or an accessory, or a part of the set. Yes, she was there but I hardly felt her presence, and it baffles me that she got an Oscar nomination for this (though she deserved that Razzie nomination).
ENCOREThe highest compliment I could find was that she's good looking. Positively steamrolled by Babs in any which way and she doesn't even look like she's trying!
BROOKE CLOUDBUSTERAmy Irving has an incredible ability to play the different angles of fragility and serenity, but this role relies on further stretching than this and the actress often mistakes silence for subtlety.
REGGIEWhat can I possibly say? Irving does what she's supposed to do with this performance, but her, and the movie, are just simply not good. Irving's best scenes are with Streisand, but it simply isn't good enough.
AARONIn a mostly silent performance, Irving demonstrates her emotional shifts through her physicality. Still, Hadass is never that interesting of a character, and early on when Avigdor asked “what could she be thinking?” I felt sure the answer was “nothing.”
STINKYLULUIn a solid (and unfairly maligned) performance, Irving embodies the idealized, deferential Hadass with ethereal warmth and formidable feeling; the actress aptly conveys the character’s shifting (and largely concealed) conflicts as she is transformed by her encounter with Streisand’s Anshel.
MATTBeautiful, sensuous, and languorous, Amy Irving embodies Singer's storybook maiden to perfection. At turns touchingly innocent and amusingly, lustily sly, she displays pitch-perfect rapport with her fellow actors and inhabits Streisand's burnished-golden universe with delicacy.
TOTAL: 18s

MATTTries to inject energy into this survival-amid-the-marshlands tale. Unfortunately, nobody voted her scene partner (an abysmal Mary Steenburgen) off the swamp. And without a better-developed script and less narcoleptic direction, Woodard can't redeem this boggy biopic.
JOEThe clichéd nature of the role was kind of exhausting, but Woodard brought to it her characteristic warmth and a youthful exuberance that didn't always read "simple." Kind of sucks this remains her only nomination.
WALTEREven if the screenplay doesn’t, Woodard manages to subtly, simply convey the friendship and affection between Geechee and Marjorie. I wish the movie did more than keeping her in the background, though even there she is interesting to watch.
DOUGLAS RACSOWoodard made the most out of the material given to her and it really paid off. She was the hidden gem of this movie – touching and memorable – to but I kinda wish that she was given more.
BROOKE CLOUDBUSTERThis actress imbues a stereotype with her own characteristic intelligence and uncommon brand of charm. She stops short of running away with the movie outright, but this is certainly a worthwhile performance, and nomination.
AARONWoodard is energetic and lovable in the role, but, though the actress fleshes her out considerably, director Ritt isn’t really interested in Geechee (not even enough for a real name).
REGGIEWoodard's Geechee is possibly her best performance. She knows why the character does what she does, like a real actress should. Geechee is comic relief, but we still feel her pain and struggle. Great performance.
STINKYLULUWoodard invests nuance, texture and humanity in what was scripted to be a one-note role. Yet through the combined force of her charisma, empathy and intelligence, Woodard's performance permits us to feel that single note with uncommon depth and resonance.
ENCOREShe takes a clichéd role and makes it great. She's beautiful to watch and steals the show in what could have become such a stock character.
TOTAL: 27s

Oscar chose...
Linda Hunt
in The Year of Living Dangerously
But, in something of a nailbiter,
the SMACKDOWN sees things
somewhat differently,
choosing BOTH

Best Supporting Actress of 1983!

A true tie. A first.
SO, lovely reader, what do YOU think?
Please share your thoughts in comments.


Douglas Racso said...

Ohhh I can not believe that Cher won here. I love her in that movie

Alex in Movieland said...

My. My. I thought Linda was easily winning this! Brian, those 2 stars of yours put the nail in her coffin :D So gay men do prefer Cher instead of a woman playing (an ugly) man. :D kidding.

very interesting smackdown, as always. I need to see Yentl! fast!
Walter, Amy's performance is not the only one ever nominated for both best & worst! James Coco also (undeservedly) shares the distinction for Only When I Laugh :)

Stinkylulu, I don't seem to remember. Had Linda won, would this have been the 1st time your 5th choice would've won the smackdown? :) the 1st time since Agnes Moorehead for Magnificent Ambersons, I mean :P or didn't you feel the same about Lange in Tootsie?

Scott said...

If Cher had in fact won this prize I wonder if she would've still won Best Actress in 1987.

MamaDeluxe1 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
StinkyLulu said...

You'll note that the total has been revised, once a major editing error was forcefully brought to my attention.

Alex in Movieland said...

:D I know what a pain in the ass blogger can be sometimes, especially when you have lots of photos.

And you do know you're my hero because I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to put together such a complicated post. (especially with those infinite 2 hearts, 3 hearts, etc. photos). I for one feel the need to thank you again for the work you put in this blog! :) Oscar talk is fun here.

a tie! that's nice.
as a suggestion, I think you should have a hall of fame with all the winners of the previous smackdowns. a recap. And no "almost ties" like 62 :D

Joe Shetina said...

Glad to know some people love Cher's performance as much as I do.

Douglas Racso said...

i loved cher in the movie. She is my pick for best actres

Encore Entertainment said...

Hot damn, Glenn was steamrolled. Well not quite, still. Those 2 and 3 stars stung. Hmmm Linda and Cher. I guess I'd choose Cher if a gun was to my head.

Matt said...

I LOVE this series.

83 was not a great year for this category at all.

I think Cher is so incredibly overrated as Dolly. The gimmick of seeing Cher, no make-up, as a lesbian is so classic de-glam.

Irving and Woodard are terrible, both playing stereotypical, cardboard characters.

Not much can trump Hunt, though, for my money.

My nominees:

Jamie Lee Curtis … Trading Places ^
Beverly D'Angelo … National Lampoon's Vacation
Ewa Froling … Fanny and Alexander
Linda Hunt ... The Year of Living Dangerously *
Michelle Pfeiffer ... Scarface

Matt said...

I saw that I've got a doppelganger here, so I'll be Matt #2.

I remember 1983 as the first in year in which I got interested in movies and the Oscars, so it's special year for me. But as I worked on this Smackdown, it seemed to me that the line-up for this category is a little drab. Except for the extraordinary work by Linda Hunt and the wonderful performance of Amy Irving (very underrated--there's a lot more going on it, I think, than we, collectively, gave it credit for), the actresses here had to make do with limited roles.

If I had my way, I'd probably replace Close and Woodard with Kelly McGillis in "Reuben, Reuben" and Veronica Cartwright in "The Right Stuff." It's hard to come up with other worthy performances for this category for 1983, though many actresses gave brilliant, powerhouse performances in leading roles that same year.

Sean said...

If I had my way with the nominees this year, I'd nominate:

Cher, Silkwood
Glenn Close, The Big Chill
Stina Ekblad, Fanny And Alexander
Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously
Gunn Wallgren, Fanny And Alexander

....With Gunn Wallgren taking the win. Wow, two women playing men in the same year (Ekblad and Hunt)!

I saw someone else put Ewa Froling. Good Choice.

Stacia said...

For what it's worth, I also absolutely viscerally hated "The Big Chill". When Peter on "Family Guy" says this stupid line about how a movie "insists upon itself", it always makes me think of "The Big Chill". I don't know what it means, but the film insists upon itself.

CanadianKen said...

You guys were way too tough on Amy Irving. As Matt#2 suggested, there's a lot going on there - all of it good. She'd have been one of MY nominees. Along with Betty Buckley and Tess Harper in TENDER MERCIES. Hunt would've been on my list too. Though not for the win. That would've gone hands down to Dianne Wiest for her amazing amazing work in INDEPENDENCE DAY as an abused wife whose options are disappearing around her. She nails every nuance. Kathleen Quinlan and David Keith are the nominal stars but Wiest owns the picture And should have started her Oscar collection right then and there.

Matt Mazur said...

I have always wanted to see that Wiest performance, good call!

Walter L. Hollmann said...

So, I came back here to show my grandparents what this is, and it seems I didn't comment? Odd.

Anywho, I am tres tres excited for the way this turned out! I thought Cher and Linda Hunt were equals (I can't choose a favorite between the two)...so I'm glad for the tie. I didn't want to hate Amy Irving (anyone in Carrie deserves epic high fives), but GOD! I can't believe there is love for her!

And Alex, my bad and thank you. I didn't even know James Coco was an Oscar nominee, so it would appear my Awards trivia is more rusty than I thought.

dchowe8 said...

Matt, I'm in total agreement about Pfeiffer. That performance made me take notice of her genius. Wow.

Woulda loved to see Cher win it. Touch chicks are my weakness.