Best Supporting Actress: A Look Back

Today begins a new blog series where I’m looking back at five of the major Oscar categories from 1990 to the present: the four acting races and Best Picture. This is essentially the time period where I’ve closely watched and analyzed. My charge? Picking the three largest upsets in each said category and the three least surprising winners… a film or performer where it truly would have been a shock if they didn’t emerge victorious.

We begin with Best Supporting Actress and this is one in which there have been some genuine upsets over the past quarter century plus. Unlike some other races we’ll get to later, it was not a challenge to pick three unexpected winners.

The other agenda item here is I’m picking my personal selections for strongest and weakest overall field among the five nominees in the acting derby’s and five-ten for Best Picture.

For starters, here’s the list of women that won gold statues in the supporting race from 1990 to now:

1990 – Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost

1991 – Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King

1992 – Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

1993 – Anna Paquin, The Piano

1994 – Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

1995 – Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite

1996 – Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

1997 – Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential

1998 – Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love

1999 – Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted

2000 – Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

2001 – Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind

2002 – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

2003 – Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain

2004 – Cate Blanchett, The Aviator

2005 – Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardner

2006 – Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

2007 – Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

2008 – Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona

2009 – Mo’Nique, Precious

2010 – Melissa Leo, The Fighter

2011 – Octavia Spencer, The Help

2012 – Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

2013 – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

2014 – Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

2015 – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

2016 – Viola Davis, Fences

2017 – Allison Janney, I, Tonya

I’ll begin with the least surprising winners. Truthfully, there are plenty of selections (and will be in each race) to pick from here. It’s normal procedure for the front runner to actually win. Here’s three that did just that:

3. Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

Of the 28 recipients to choose from, note that 3 of them were under the direction of Woody Allen. None were surprise winners. That’s most evident with Wiest’s showcase work as an aging diva here. Her win here came just eight years following her Oscar winning role in another Allen pic, Hannah and Her Sisters.

2. Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Fans of the Broadway play this is based upon knew Ms. Hudson could have a legitimate breakthrough part here. She nailed it and her win was never in much doubt.

1. Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

Similar to Hudson’s victory, Hathaway’s casting as Fantine and her “I Dreamed a Dream” dramatic solo made her the odds-on favorite from the moment the project was announced. That never changed.

Now we get to the upsets and there were four to choose from. I could easily include Anna Paquin in The Piano, who became the second youngest winner when she beat out favorite Winona Ryder for The Age of Innocence. Here’s 3 I rank as even more surprising:

3. Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

Harden had won no significant precursors and Kate Hudson was expected to have her name called for Almost Famous. She wasn’t even nominated for a Golden Globe or SAG.

2. Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

While the film itself was the anticipated winner for Picture (which it did), the Oscars were expected to select the legendary Lauren Bacall for her work in Barbra Streisand’s The Mirror Has Two Faces. Yet it was Binoche’s performance that was unexpectedly honored.

1. Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

For starters, comedic roles are rarely nominated and wins are even more unheard of. Tomei was a newcomer in a picture that wasn’t a factor in any other category. Her competition was a list of venerable actresses: Judy Davis (Husbands and Wives), Joan Plowright (Enchanted April), Vanessa Redgrave (Howards End), and Miranda Richardson (Damages). The victory here was so shocking that conspiracy theories emerged that presenter Jack Palance had accidentally read the wrong name. That’s been debunked, but Tomei’s trip to the stage remains one of Oscar’s largest jaw droppers.

As for the fields, I’m going with 1991 for the weakest link in the chain. I probably would have given the award to Juliette Lewis in Cape Fear. However, the group was not particularly strong:

Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King (Winner)

Diane Ladd, Rambling Rose

Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear

Kate Nelligan, The Prince of Tides

Jessica Tandy, Fried Green Tomatoes

For the strongest field overall, I went with 2004 when Cate Blanchett won for her portrayal of Katherine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. The other nominees:

Laura Linney, Kinsey

Virginia Madsen, Sideways

Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda

Natalie Portman, Closer

And there you have it! I’ll have Supporting Actor up soon…

Joy Movie Review

“Joy and pain. Like sunshine and rain.” – Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock

David O. Russell’s latest tells a fable grounded in reality of Joy Mangano, who invented a new way to clean floors in the early 90s with the Miracle Mop. It continues his habit during this decade of taking ordinary people and telling their extraordinary situations.

Our title character is portrayed by Russell’s muse Jennifer Lawrence. As a little girl, we see that she loves making inventions with her hands. This leads to the aforementioned mop, though selling it is no easy feat. Her quirky family includes her father Rudy (Robert De Niro, thankfully doing his best work nowadays with this director), who is restless in his love life and in a burgeoning relationship with a wealthy widow (Isabella Rossellini). That widow provides a pipeline to funding the Miracle operation, though not without serious reservations and Joy mortgaging her home twice. Joy’s mother (Virginia Madsen) is essentially an anti-social shut in who exists vicariously through the soap opera characters she watches all day. This allows for some interesting cameos. There’s Joy’s aspiring singer ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez), who still lives with her and serves as a trusted advisor. And Diane Ladd is her constantly supportive grandmother, who narrates these proceedings.

Joy is about the many pains that she must face to convince her family and the consuming public that she’s onto something. The journey eventually leads her to the upstart QVC, headed by a sturdy executive (Bradley Cooper) who conducts the network’s infomercials like an orchestra (her first segment is directed with the energy and enthusiasm we expect from this filmmaker). This allows for the fascinating of seeing Melissa Rivers play her late mother Joan. She soon learns the gloomy side of business, even when success comes. The picture is divided into two halves. The first is mostly about the pain of getting her venture started. The second has more joy and a little more sunshine, but pain is always around the corner. Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock couldn’t have known these lyrics would apply here, but they do.

More than anything, Joy gives Lawrence another platform to shine and she takes advantage. The film never does reach the emotional, comedic, or dramatic heights of previous efforts like The Fighter and, in particular, Silver Linings Playbook. By the movie’s end, we are dealing with a central character who’s gone from sketching her designs in crayon to a multi-million dollar empire. Yet her saga never feels as fraught with nervous excitement as that regional Pennsylvania dance contest in Playbook. Still, Joy’s strange odyssey is one worth taking due to Russell’s exuberance and Lawrence’s talent.

*** (out of four)

 

Joy Box Office Prediction

For the third time, director David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence team up for comedy/drama Joy and it hopes to replicate the success from their two previous outings, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. 

The pic tells the true-ish story of Miracle Mop founder Joy Mangano (Lawrence) and features Russell regulars Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper, as well as Edgar Ramirez, Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen, and Diane Ladd.

This will need to clear some considerable hurdles in order to match previous successes. For starters, Joy is opening on Christmas in an ultra competitive frame where competition for adult moviegoers includes Concussion and The Big Short (and the second weekend of Star Wars). Secondly, unlike Playbook and Hustle, the awards buzz for this is muted at best. While Lawrence is likely to receive a Best Actress nod for her well regarded work, critics have been mixed and it stands at 62% on Rotten Tomatoes (well under Russell and Lawrence’s first two outings). The so-so buzz means it probably won’t be a player in any other Academy categories other than for its lead actress.

With those factors in mind, I anticipate Joy not reaching the $19.1 million accomplished by American Hustle over the holidays in 2013. A debut in the low to mid teens seems more probable.

Joy opening weekend prediction: $14.9 million

For my Concussion prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/12/15/concussion-box-office-prediction/

For my Daddy’s Home prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/12/15/daddys-home-box-office-prediction/

For my Point Break prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/12/15/point-break-box-office-prediction/

For my The Big Short prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/12/16/the-big-short-box-office-prediction/

Joy’s Oscar Bubble Bursts

Just one week ago, I wrote a blog post detailing the Oscar prospects for David O. Russell’s latest Joy, which comes out on Christmas. Seven days ago, I believed its prospects for a nomination in Best Picture were still fairly decent. Some of this was due to Mr. Russell’s track record over the decade. His last three pictures – The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle – all were nominated, as was Russell. Those three movies represent an astounding 11 acting nominations with three wins. And the advance word of mouth on Joy was cautiously optimistic enough that I still felt it stood a good shot at Academy attention.

What a difference a week makes. The official embargo on Joy reviews was lifted this morning and a clearer picture has emerged. Bottom line: Joy will not be nominated for Best Picture. David O. Russell will not be nominated for Director. None of the supporting players that includes Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Virginia Madsen, Diane Ladd, and Isabella Rossellini will hear their names called. Reviews have been extremely mixed. While some critics have heaped praised, other prominent reviewers have called it his worst movie. While the number is bound to fluctuate, it currently stands at just 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Fighter? 90%. Silver Linings Playbook? 92%. American Hustle? 93%. You get the idea.

The only bright spot is that Jennifer Lawrence’s inclusion in Best Actress still appears be solid. Writers have singled out her work and the superstar looks to land her third recognition in a row for a Russell directed effort.

The Joy bubble bursting will surely give rise to another film that many prognosticators had under their bubbles for Picture predictions, including my own. This could represent good news for pictures ranging from Mad Max: Fury Road to Creed to Son of Saul to Anomalisa to The Big Short.

One thing is nearly certain: Russell’s joyful Oscar streak looks to be finished.

Oscar Watch: Joy

When it comes to Oscar nominations over the first half of this decade, no director matches the incredible track record of David O. Russell. Let’s do some math, shall we? His last three pictures – 2010’s The Fighter, 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, 2013’s American Hustle – have scored a combined 25 Academy Award nods. All three were nominated for Best Picture. Russell was in the Directing race for each film. The trio of pics nabbed a total of 11 acting nominations resulting in three victories: Christian Bale (Supporting Actor for The Fighter), Melissa Leo (Supporting Actress for The Fighter), and Jennifer Lawrence (Actress for Silver Linings Playbook).

Therefore, it’s obvious that December’s Joy has been high on the list for potential Oscar attention. Over the weekend, it screened for critics and journalists for the first time. While reviews are officially embargoed until mid December, the word is that Russell likely has his fourth contender in a row. Early buzz makes one thing clear: Lawrence is in line to receive her fourth nomination as the title character in Best Actress. At this point, it’d be a shock if she’s not included. This would mark her third recognition in a row from the Academy working with Russell (winning for Playbook, nominated for Hustle). As for other acting races, it’s murkier. Bradley Cooper would also be going for his third nomination in a row with Russell, but his part is said to be small and he probably won’t be included. Robert De Niro, on the other hand, has potential with his supporting turn. His last nomination was in the same category for Playbook. Diane Ladd is rumored to be the Supporting Actress most in contention over costars Virginia Madsen and Isabella Rossellini.

It would also seem that Joy remains a strong contender for Best Picture recognition and that could extend to Russell’s fourth time in the Director category. As stated, Russell’s films have been an Oscar juggernaut and it’s unlikely to let up here (especially with J Law). A caveat: some of the initial reaction for this isn’t quite as over the moon as the director’s last efforts, so I would write Joy‘s Best Picture nomination and Russell’s down in pencil, not pen until officials reviews are released. Feel free to use a Bic with Lawrence.

2015 Early Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

It’s hard to believe but we are two thirds of the way through the calendar year and that means my first round of incredibly early Oscar predictions are making their way to the blog! Some caveats: it’s early. Real early. Truth be told, most of the main contenders in all the major categories will be rolling out in the fall. Many will be screening at the upcoming film fests like Toronto and New York, among others. As always, those festivals will help the picture become clearer over the next couple of months. Usually by Thanksgiving or early December, we’ve got a pretty good idea on how things are looking.

That said, I started my predictions for 2014 at the same time last year. In the Supporting Actress race, which I’m covering today, my impossibly early predictions yielded two of the five eventual nominees, Laura Dern for Wild and winner Patricia Arquette in Boyhood. It’s also worth noting that I predicted Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything, who was nominated in the Lead Actress category. Let’s talk about how things look right now:

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Already we seem to have one performer who appears to be a shoo in for a nod: Rooney Mara for Todd Haynes’s 1950s set lesbian romance Carol, which premiered to raves at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this summer. It would be very shocking not to see Mara included, unless she’s campaigned for in the Actress race. That seems unlikely because the studio should be putting her costar Cate Blanchett in that race.

After that – much uncertainty. The Irish immigration drama Brooklyn hit the festival circuit to a rapturous response and that could bode well for Julie Walters. Director Quentin Tarantino knows how to get his actors nominated which could mean a nom for The Hateful Eight’s Jennifer Jason Leigh. Director David O. Russell is exceptional at seeing his performers gets nods and his December release Joy could see kudos for either Virginia Madsen or Diane Ladd (I’m leaving both off, for now).

Elizabeth Olsen has had some critically applauded roles and her performance as Hank Williams’ wife in the biopic I Saw the Light could garner attention. So could Kate Winslet in the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic.

The rest of the large field is filled with familiar names and some not. Remember the name Emayatzy Corinealdi for her work in the Don Cheadle/Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead. And we have previous winners like Blanchett, Jane Fonda, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Rachel Weisz in the mix.

TODD’S FIRST PREDICTIONS – BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Elizabeth Olsen, I Saw the Light

Julie Walters, Brooklyn

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

 

Other Possibilities:

Elizabeth Banks, Love and Mercy

Cate Blanchett, Truth

Helena Bonham Carter,  Suffragette

Jessica Chastain, The Martian

Emayatzy Corinealdi, Miles Ahead

Marion Cotillard, Macbeth

Ann Dowd, Our Brand is Crisis

Jane Fonda, Youth

Nicole Kidman, Genius

Diane Ladd, Joy

Melanie Laurent, By the Sea

Laura Linney, Genius

Virginia Madsen, Joy

Helen Mirren, Trumbo

Ellen Page, Freeheld

Julia Roberts, The Secret in their Eyes

Amy Ryan, Bridge of Spies

Meryl Streep, Suffragette

Rachel Weisz, Youth

And there’s part one of my early Oscar picks. Supporting Actor coming your way tomorrow…