Introducing "The Class of 2009" - The 4th Annual Supporting Actress Blogathon - January 17, 2010

StinkyLulu's pleased to invite all aficionados of actressing at the edges to the 4th Annual Supporting Actress Blogathon, this time celebrating the "Class of 2009."
The Class of 2009
Supporting Actress Blogathon
Sunday, January 17, 2010
(the Sunday before the Oscar nomination ballots are due)

All bloggers -- no matter the usual focus of their blog -- are invited to contribute to this collaborative compendium documenting 2009's hardworking crew of Supporting Actresses. All you have to do is develop a post detailing your thoughts on any single Supporting Actress performance from 2009. Please limit yourself to one performance, performer, &/or film per blogathon post. (BUT do feel free to spread your love & develop multiple entries.) There's no need to "sign up" or "claim" a given performer/performance for the blogathon. (We'll just see how things stack up.). Finally, in addition to obvious "contender" performances, commentaries on obscure, ineligible, no-chance-in-hell &/or idiosyncratic performances are especially welcome. Like the blogathons for The Class of 2006, The Class of 2007, and The Class of 2008 this year's blogathon aims to accomplish a complex, diverse and fully-rounded portrait of the Supporting Actress Class of 2009.

Just email StinkyLulu with your plans to participate as soon as possible. Promote the blogathon on your own blog if you wish, linking to this post and using these graphics (poster, button, panel). Then, no later than the crack of dawn on the morning of January 17th, send along the link to your blog entry/ies. StinkyLulu will post links to all participating blogs throughout the day.


Supporting Actress Smackdown - 1956

The Year is...

And the Smackdowners for the 29th Annual Academy Awards are...
of Alex in Movieland/My Latest Oscar Film
BRAD of Criticlasm
MATT F of Matt vs. The Academy
VERTIGO'S PSYCHO of And Your Little Blog, Too
yours truly, STINKYLULU.

Thanks once again to Smackdowner ALEX,
we can whet our actressexual appetites with this extended clipreel:

click image to be routed to video

1956'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.)

Mildred Dunnock in Baby Doll
ALEXHow do you rate such a performance? Was it meant to be funny? There are things in the dinner scene I liked, especially her self-consciousness and need for approval, but whiny is not that hard to play. Maybe she went too far.
MATT LAlthough Dunnock has a firm grasp on this batty-old-aunt character, she’s not given enough material, and the moviemakers don’t showcase her well; she’s lit so badly that she blends into the walls, and has hardly any close-ups. A potentially scene-stealing comic creation wasted.
MATT FThe innocent, vacant eyes of a doddering old lady make for an amusing performance, but Dunnock relies too heavily on stereotype. When she is given the chance to step outside the cliché, she doesn't quite cut it, overshadowed by the film's other fearless performances.
BRADI feel like this must have been a career acknowledging nomination. Dunnock's great – funny, sad, complex in the role that wouldn't require it, and her one big scene is heartbreaking. But nomination worthy? Not for me.
STINKYLULUA searing, vivid performance. Aunt Rose is among the most gothic of Williams’s “thrown-away” women, yet Dunnock melds the comedy and tragedy of the character with a clarifying humanity. It’s a strange role in a stranger film, but Dunnock’s excellent.
VERTIGO’S PSYCHOFluttering and flitting about, Dunnock’s Aunt Rose Comfort is an addled-brained, amusing presence. However, when this nervous, frail spinster finally stands up to the bullying Archie Lee with admirable resolve, the actress memorably conveys strength of character heretofore undetected.
TOTAL: 13s

Eileen Heckart in The Bad Seed
MATT LHeckart’s performance must have been galvanizing on Broadway, but director Mervyn LeRoy hasn’t excised the staginess of her acting here. The intensity of her gestures, such as the finger-pointing, seems theatrically overscaled, and the movie exposes the role’s obviousness and repetitiveness.
ALEXA performance to either worship or accuse. First I worshiped, then I doubted: everytime she crashes the film I am bullied by her presence. Slap, slap and her angry alcoholic speeches abuse me and throw the movie off-course. Great energy, but redundant.
VERTIGO’S PSYCHOThe literal finger-pointing is a bit stagy, but otherwise this spellbinding Heckart turn is perfectly pitched. When she stares down Nancy Kelly and wails, “You know something, Christine!” you’re viewing one of the screen’s most tragic, electrifying supporting actress exits.
MATT FFrom the moment she drunkenly staggers into her first scene, Heckart is a force demanding attention. Her powerhouse performance, though brief, captures perfectly the sadness and desperation of a parent dealing with the loss of a child. But what was with all the pointing?
BRADA performance borne of the stage. Being drunk the whole time, it feels like a bigger challenge than the rest of the field, and she does superb work. When she hugs Kelly and says "you know something, Christine" – it’s the most powerful and surprising moment in the film for me. Haunting stuff.
STINKYLULUHeckart blows in like the trashy, drunken tornado that she is and, with astonishing vocal dexterity, crafts an indelible portrait of who Hortense Daigle was and is. Each startling jagged arm flail and emotional quick change electrifies my embarrassment as I watch this woman holler the truth as she falls apart. I love it.
TOTAL: 24s

Dorothy Malone in Written on the Wind
ALEXHer orgasmic remembering by the lake is unwillingly funny, but her acting instinct works fine for the rest of it. We are warned that she’s trouble and she doesn’t disappoint, yet never losing the emotional side of the character.
MATT FDespite her horribly fake driving, Malone finds the perfect combination of sensuality and insecurity. The meaty range of the misunderstood slut is Oscar bait, no doubt, and Malone pulls it off with a relaxed yet intense sexual energy, only slipping into showiness very occasionally.
BRADI love this performance. She almost undoes melodrama. The perf is over the top, but so much so it almost defines its genre. The mambo scene is one of my favorite film sequences, and she steals the film from the three big names.
STINKYLULUMalone is so far beyond bad that she’s brilliant. Wearing the incongruously huge (if shallow) emotions with the same flair as she wears her ridiculous outfits, Malone maneuvers this melodrama’s trickiest redemption with clarifying verve. Shouldn’t work, but it does – unforgettably.
VERTIGO’S PSYCHOMalone’s emotional flamboyancy impeccably meshes with the overtly sexual, intense Marylee Hadley in Sirk’s most hyper-kinetic screen achievement. Undulating to the strains of “Temptation” as Marylee’s daddy expires up- no, make that down- stairs, a mesmerizing Malone represents the apex of torrid 1950’s melodrama.
MATT LAs the nympho with a heart of oil, Dorothy Malone enlivens this turgid Texas soap opera with her energy, smartly timed bits of business, bitchy line readings, and sensational sexiness. The performance is a succulent piece of trashy camp yet somehow prestigiously Oscar-worthy. My winner.
TOTAL: 25s

Mercedes McCambridge in Giant
STINKYLULUAn alert, intense performance that mistakes tautness for toughness. (If it weren’t 1956, I’d probably blame it on botox.) McCambridge’s straitjacketed Texas lockjaw suggests a basic misunderstanding of the character, while also doing little to illuminate the ways Luz loves her two main men.
BRADI like McCambridge, and she acquits herself well here, but glowering isn't enough for me to merit a nomination. She milks what she can from what she has, but it's a sickly cow to start off with.
MATT FComparatively speaking, McCambridge is hardly in this lengthy film, and when she is, she mutters one-liners to herself as she watches others leave. Considering the limited range she has on offer, she inhabits the role well, even if she never moves her arms.
ALEXWas half of it left on the editing floor? Undoubtedly a mature performance and just by looking at her I felt the loneliness of this spinster. Intelligent acting and great accent: but not enough scenes to make it more than a solid cameo.
VERTIGO’S PSYCHOMcCambridge is in and out of this lengthy epic in lickety-split fashion, but with her legendary voice and imposing swagger, the force is (as usual) still with her. Hard to believe Bick could be a male chauvinist with the dominant Luz as his sister.
MATT LConveys a panoply of complex, sometimes fascinatingly contradictory character traits and does it simply, often with merely functional dialogue, and in quick reaction shots. In contrast to the movie’s lumbering bovinity (running time: 97 hours), this is a lean, taut, muscular performance, all too brief.
TOTAL: 13s

Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed
MATT FChild actors are prone to pantomime, especially in the 1950s, but McCormack's character is supposed to be phony, so was her plastic performance an insightful portrayal of an emotionless girl or just a child playing pretend? Either way, it was effective…sometimes.
BRADGreat child performance, and supremely skilled when taken in account of her age. Doesn't quite get past staginess until that last walk along the fence, but she's a fantastic monster. Almost a lead, too.
STINKYLULUThough the outcome was never quite as gruesome, I played "Claude" to many a "Rhoda" in my youth, so I tend to read McCormack’s studied artifice in the role as something approaching realism. Yes, it’s a stunt, but it’s an effective one.
VERTIGO’S PSYCHOOccasionally studied theatrical affects creep in- nevertheless, leering and sneering with a mature, impressive panache, McCormick menaces her way to screen immortality as the ultimate in precocious pigtailed predators. She’s especially riveting in her big confession scene.
ALEXWhat Patty manages to bring to the screen is beyond age limits. She controls the character and never hesitates. It takes lots of ambition to carry such role and look at the confrontation scene: no second guessing, only mature calculated acting.
MATT LIt’s a testament to Patty McCormack’s superb performance that the phrase “bad seed” has entered the American cultural lexicon. A camp icon, yet with a remarkably naturalistic acting style, she’s entirely believable, fascinating, and enjoyable. An impeccable, killer portrait of an impeccable killer.
TOTAL: 23s

Oscar chose...
Dorothy Malone
in Written on the Wind
is compelled
to agree...
Best Supporting Actress of 1956!

but -- sssssshh -- don't tell Patty...
It might make her mad.
Especially IF she learns that technical gremlins
prevented MovieMania's zingers from arriving in time
to be factored into the Smackdown's results...

BUT, lovely reader, do tell US.
What do YOU think?

Please share your thoughts in comments.