The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor & Best Supporting Actress – 2001
2001 — the year where nothing happened. This is the year whose only distinction is that it was the one where everyone’s like, “Vote for more black people!” Other than that this was forgettable in almost every way, down to the Best Picture winner which was one of those, “I guess…” decisions.
2001 was a bad year for movies. Something about 1s and 0s must make the movies not good. But at least the Supporting Actor and Lead Actor categories had some interest to them. Along with the once again bad decision-making that plagues most Oscar years.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 2001
And the nominees were…
Jim Broadbent, Iris
Ethan Hawke, Training Day
Ben Kingsley, Sexy Beast
Ian McKellen, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Jon Voight, Ali
Jim Broadbent. I actually liked this performance. It’s a small movie, very short too, only 90 minutes, about Iris Murdoch (played by Judi Dench), who was, in her youth, Kate Winslet. Essentially. She was Kate Winslet and she had lots of joie de vivre. Running around like, “Come do something stupid with me!” and, “Let’s take all our clothes off and go in the water, because I get naked in every movie!” Now, she’s Judi, and she’s got dementia. Alzheimer’s. The worst. And Jim is her husband. He’s got to take care of her as she forgets everything and wanders outside because she doesn’t know where she is. He’s very good in this role, except he’s still Jim Broadbent. That timid, almost nervous stuttering, and the whole, nice guy, doting husband sort of thing. How Jim Broadbent plays every role, almost. It’s fine. Except, there’s another performance on here that was perhaps more deserving of it this year. Another year (Ha. Get it?) Jim Broadbent would be my vote hands down. This year, he’s a close second. Why? Because I favor flashy over solid, every time. Broadbent is the rock the movie leans on. I prefer dynamite.
Ethan Hawke. Another very solid performance. Here’s one that I say ranks third this year for male supporting performances. In most years he’d probably be second. Here, third. This is a performance that I really enjoyed. The best of his career, by far. However, given the year in which he gave it, I say the nomination is perfect reward for it. In most years, he’d probably be overlooked. If you haven’t seen the movie (which, why haven’t you?), Denzel is a corrupt cop and Ethan is a new guy to his unit. He goes out with Denzel as sort of an orientation deal. He learns much more about corruption than he thought he would. It’s a very solid performance, like I said, because it’s both a lead role (very much so), and the rock of the movie. He’s the eyes and ears of the audience. This role is akin to Leo’s in The Departed. He’s very much our guy we follow, the rock of the movie (less flashy then Leo, but similar), and the studio pushed him supporting. Or maybe it was Damon they pushed supporting. Either way, it’s an anchor role that they pushed supporting for whatever reason (this reason being Denzel). Really well done, just don’t think he should have won, part because of category fraud, part because of Jim Broadbent and this next chap.
Ben Kingsley. If you’ve seen Sexy Beast you know exactly why Ben Kingsley should have a second Oscar on his mantle. There’s really no denying how electric Ben is in this role. He’s so captivating, commands so much presence without doing anything except lacing strings of profanities together that are so fantastic all you can do is cheer when he’s finished, that you almost forget the motherfucker isn’t even the main character. Here’s the skinny: Ray Winstone (always Ray Winstone) is a former criminal. Living in Spain, out on his pool every day, goes out to dinner with his wife and their married couple friend all the time and does little else. He seems to be enjoying it. Ben, is a criminal in London, and wants Ray to return. He comes to ask him to return. In fact, he’s pretty indignant about it. No matter how many times Ray says no, Ben says yes. You know that annoying person that won’t go away until you agree to do what they want? Watch this:
Yeah. I don’t want to give away too much of the performance, except this one little bit more:
The clip isn’t the one I was looking for, but that’s okay. You get to be amazed when you see it in the movie. This clip up there is appropriate enough to understand the performance without giving anything of the good stuff away.
Seriously, watch this movie. And after you watch it, tell me this man doesn’t deserve an Oscar for it.
Ian McKellen. It’s Gandalf. What can you do? We all want to give him an Oscar. But based on the performance, I can’t. What did he really do in this movie that warranted an Oscar? I can’t even give it to him for being awesome, because clearly Ben Kingsley wins that one too. This is another one of those, “Yeah, we can’t give it to him, but I’m really happy he got nominated” deals. I really am happy they nominated him. This will be ranked fourth on my rankings list, but don’t listen to that. Fourth on this list would be higher on other years. Plus, are you really watching Gandalf for the performance? Come on, man. You know he’s awesome.
Jon Voight. Honestly, I don’t really know how he got on here. (I do.) They probably couldn’t fine enough performances to round out the list. (False, because just looking at the films nominated for Oscars I can find some that are worth a place on this list). This is what’s known as the “fifth nomination.” Every year someone slides into the fifth spot that isn’t deserving. But because they can’t find a fifth guy, he just gets in and no one really takes him seriously. Alan Alda had it in 2004. Hal Holbrook had it in 2007. It’s a stature nomination. The veterans voted in their buddy. Jon Voight is a well-respected actor. But here, as Howard Cosell, I didn’t see him do enough on screen to warrant a nomination. Same goes for Alda in 2004. Didn’t see enough for him to get in, but he’s in such a strong category that I really don’t care all that much. Whatever. Good for him.
My thoughts: Ben Kingsley wins this, hands down. Broadbent probably won based on the veterans. Same reason Arkin won in 2006. I’m not outraged to where I’m going to flip some tables, but I’m minorly upset. Kingsley was better in my opinion.
- Voight (should have been Ed Harris in Beautiful Mind)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 2001
And the nominees were…
Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind
Helen Mirren, Gosford Park
Maggie Smith, Gosford Park
Marisa Tomei, In the Bedroom
Kate Winslet, Iris
Jennifer Connelly. Lead role. Lead role, lead role, lead role. Category fraud to the fullest. She was nominated lead by SAG for christ’s sake, and that’s the ACTOR’s guild! But, whatever. They want nominations over integrity, so, we deal. Good thing, too, because the performance that gets my vote isn’t nominated, and the one I would have voted for without Jennifer being on here might not be strong enough to deserve it. (I think it is. But there are other circumstances too.) So, this makes my decision easy. She’s the wife of batshit Russell Crowe. She suffers and shit. That’s what the role is. She’s great in it. It’s just a lead. That’s why this makes this so tough.
Helen Mirren. I didn’t like the movie. I generally don’t like Atlman movies. There are like three I really like, and then like two or three I respect and enjoyed, and the rest I can’t deal with. (Note: Really like A Prairie Home Companion, McCabe and Mrs. Miller and MASH. I respected and/or enjoyed The Long Goodbye, Popeye and The Player. I did not like Nashville, Short Cuts and this. I have not seen most of the older ones. I will eventually, maybe I’ll like them.) This is one I can’t deal with. So much inane shit happening at once. Helen Mirren is the head of the servant staff at a wealthy estate. Everyone comes to visit for the weekend, and the man of the house winds up dead. And everyone has to deal with it. Eventually it’s revealed that Helen Mirren did it. That’s about it. This is a “Helen Mirren” nomination. You may also recognize this as the “Meryl Streep” or “Judi Dench” nomination. We respectfully observe it and move on.
Maggie Smith. Veteran nomination. Of all the people in this movie, she was probably most deserving. She plays the gossipy bitch. She’s played this role numerous times. Here, she’s oldest and thus most deserving of a nomination. I’m cool with it. Won’t vote for her, but cool with her being here. Nice seeing you, Maggie. I’m going to pretend this is for playing Professor McGonagall and they just didn’t have the balls to nominate your for that.
Marisa Tomei. This is the performance I’d be voting for if I weren’t okay with category fraud in certain cases. I thought the performance was extremely affecting and was really the standout performance of the film. Sissy Spacek did nothing and Tom Wilkinson was a bit too actorly for me to nominate him to win. Marisa was really the heart and soul of the movie. It’s about her, a single mother, dating a teenage boy. Not too young, he’s like 18, 19, and the parents are mostly cool with it. I mean, they have some reservations, but ultimately they figure it’s his life and they accept her into their home and are very nice to her. The problem is, her ex-husband keeps coming around and is upset the kid is with “his woman.” This leads to an altercation where the kid is accidentally shot and killed in her living room. Marisa has to display a lot of emotions in this role, and she nails them. There’s one scene where, after the son dies, she encounters his father for the first time in a convenience store. And she comes in, eyes completely red from crying, and you know that she’s both upset that he died and in fucking anguish because it’s her fault these people lost their son. It’s fucking heartbreaking. She probably did deserve the Oscar, as this was the best “supporting” performance that was nominated, but Jennifer Connelly was so good in her role (even thought it was lead), that I have to vote for her. Sorry, Marisa. But they do say you shouldn’t have gotten it the first time (I don’t buy it, but, that also worked against you when they actually voted. They suck, I know.)
Kate Winslet. No. Sorry Kate, almost every time I would be voting for you, but this one I just cannot. You’re barely on screen and it seems you only got this nomination because you’re Kate Winslet. Even though this was really before you became Kate Winslet. Love that you’re nominated, but you really didn’t do much except act all lively and get naked. I’d be upset at the nomination because you took it away from someone else more deserving, but I can blame Helen Mirren or the people who put Jennifer Connelly here for that. So, whatever. Take the nomination and wait another seven years before they give you the statue.
My Thoughts: Why Dakota Fanning wasn’t nominated in this category for I am Sam is beyond me. I mean, she was 7, and that’s why. But SAG nominated her, and that’s why SAG is clearly the best at picking out the good performances (seriously, check them out. They are spot on when it comes to nominating the good performances), but Oscar thought she was too young. (I will come back to this same argument when we get to 2007.) Even though her performance is brilliant in that movie. Seriously, watch that movie and try not to feel for her.
Connelly was lead, but went supporting, but was so good I have to vote for her. Marisa Tomei is an almost identical second in this race. She’s also really fucking good. Both roles are definitely worth checking out. The other three — whatever.
- Winslet (And I love Kate. That shows you how small I felt her part was.)