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.


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.


  1. Kingsley
  2. Broadbent
  3. Hawke
  4. McKellen
  5. Voight (should have been Ed Harris in Beautiful Mind)


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.


  1. Connelly
  2. Tomei
  3. Smith
  4. Mirren
  5. Winslet (And I love Kate. That shows you how small I felt her part was.)

4 responses

  1. Michael

    I couldn’t agree more with your Supporting Actor decision. The best part was seeing you mention Ed Harris as a superior potential nominee than was Voight. I love Ed Harris and loved his performance and was immensely surprised when I found out that he had not been nominated for this performance, which is, in my opinion, far superior to his nominated performance in Apollo 13. I have enjoyed your blog thus far as I am an aspiring film buff (though not so entirely devoted so as to go into screenwriting, directing, or acting, though I think I have decent Adapted Screenplay ideas) and have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog thus far. Keep up the good work!

    September 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm

  2. Michael

    By the way, I have made some IMDb lists with my winners of Picture, Director, and the 4 Acting categories. If you want, could you look at them and tell me what you think of them? I’ve included films/performances that weren’t nominated for their respective categories.

    September 7, 2011 at 8:02 pm

  3. Michael

    Thanks for all the feedback. Honestly, at 17, and only 8-10 months into my own quest for decent film literacy, I haven’t seen enough to have a 100% opinion on at least half of what I rated, but my goal is that over the course of my life I will get to the point that I do have 100% opinions and credibility. You spoke of how you chose only to address who should have won instead of who was the best because you figured it would drive you crazy because you would want to spread the wealth. I experienced this when I was making the lists.

    Case and point, Best Actress 1960. I have seen Terms of Endearment and loved Shirley MacLaine in it. I didn’t think the movie was spectacular and liked The Right Stuff, and Broadcast News for that matter, quite a bit more. I did find myself, however, eventually straying from who I “thought” was best and began trying to spread the wealth. As a result, I gave Elizabeth Taylor the Oscar over MacLaine in 1960 because I gave Deborah Kerr to Oscar in 1958 over Taylor.

    Another instance is Denzel Washington. I, unfortunately, have yet to see Scent of a Woman and Malcolm X and therefore gave the Oscar to Pacino who I like more as an actor (and because I had already given Washington his well-deserved statuette for Glory).

    As for the Paul Newman deal with Hud, I loved the film and that is actually the movie that really got me going on Paul Newman.

    In the end, however noble my intentions in the beginning, I ended up falling into the same trap you had feared: I started choosing based upon prestige rather than on best performance. I loved Russell Crowe in both Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind, and thought that Hanks was better in Cast Away than Crowe in Gladiator, so I put Crowe in for A Beautiful Mind for a performance which I thought was spectacular.

    As for Bette Davis, I think she’s great, and I thought that her best performance ever was in All About Eve. I haven’t seen Sunset Boulevard in at least 4-5 years (when I watched it in passing on TCM not knowing at all what it was), and so my opinion might change going forward on Picture and Actress that year, though I stick with Baxter as Supporting Actress, somewhat because I legitimately think she was supporting and partly because she was great and deserved an award for it but I thought Davis was far better. (Sanders, by the way, is one of my top five best supporting actor performances ever).

    With regards to 1959, I haven’t seen any of the other films, just Some Like It Hot, in which I thought Monroe was great, and, by default, drop-dead gorgeous.

    Albert Brooks won because I loved Broadcast News tremendously and because I thought that his performance really was the glue that held the entire movie together. Without him there was no conflict. Most screenwriters writes “love triangle scripts” as melodramas or at least dramas, but Brooks wrote it as probably the most intelligent comedy I have ever seen, along with The Awful Truth. Brooks, I felt, was great. I’ll have to rewatch the movie, however, as I just recently watched The Untouchables and Broadcast News was somewhat fuzzy, coming about 7-8 months ago. I do agree that Connery is great.

    As for Best Actress 2002, I haven’t seen either film yet, unfortunately, (I’m getting there), so I don’t really know. I have considered trading places and having Moore for Actress for Far from Heaven and Kidman for Supporting for The Hours, but I still haven’t decided. Like your rankings, mine are pretty fluid.

    As for Woody Allen, I’ve only seen a few of his works and they were, in my opinion, pretty good. Annie Hall is still on the list (Star Wars is the only nominated movie I’ve seen from that year I think), so I haven’t finalized that decision yet.

    The Best Actress 1970 decision, I admit, was a bit of a crapshoot. I loved Jane Alexander in Kramer vs. Kramer and thought her better than Streep. However, prestige took me over and I folded, giving the much-deserved nod to Streep and demoting Alexander to second. The 1970 race provided me with an opportunity to remedy this by picking her over a less esteemed Ali MacGraw (in comparison to Streep). I admit that I have seen neither The Great White Hope nor Love Story yet and plan to soon so that I can make a better final decision.

    I chose Samuel L. Jackson for Jungle Fever in 1991 and not for Pulp Fiction in 1994 because I thought he was spectacular and because I was again swayed by who deserves to win for Martin Landau.

    A Texan, films like The Last Picture Show hit home. I drive max 2.5 hours northwest from my house and I’m looking at dying towns like that in The Last Picture Show. I thought the acting was spectacular, and as Cloris Leachman doesn’t hold as much clout with me as with you, I chose Ellen Burstyn who I thought was superior in nearly every regard. Ben Johnson won because of his presence. After his death, you could still feel him moving and working in every scene. Yes the still-living characters kept talking about him, but I really believed that he was still there working and helping to make decisions in their lives because of how strong his performance was. Jeff Bridges was an extremely close second. I have yet to see The French Connection (only so much time and school and college apps take up most of it) and this could sway my decision on Picture.

    I love John Wayne and do feel like he should’ve won one. His performance in The Searchers was better than as Cogburn, allowing Hoffman to make up for his 1979 loss to Scheider in 1969. I also liked Rock Hudson a lot in Giant and didn’t realize that I hadn’t put him down as an Honorable Mention.

    As for our Picture disagreements, most of them stem from our difference in taste. I love British period pieces. Howards End and The Remains of the Day are two of my absolute favorite movies. Having seen Unforgiven and A Few Good Men, I can honestly say that I think that Howards End is better.

    Please disregard any discrepancies between the two lists. I am probably going to delete the Top 50 one because I would want to keep it up to date as I see more and I wouldn’t want to. I named Traffic as the deserving winner before I ever saw Gladiator, which I liked better, but forgot to change to list. The same can be said of The Sixth Sense and Juno, both of which I saw before I saw the ultimately superior American Beauty and No Country for Old Men (and There Will Be Blood for that matter).

    Comments on a Few Agreements: I had always picked Al Pacino until I saw James Caan on your blog. I thought about it and agreed; here is why. First of all, Pacino was definitely the winner in 1974 at least in my book. Secondly, Pacino, while great, had an easier part to portray. He played the Tom Cruise of the mafia. He was a young hotshot college guy who then had a sudden realization. However, unlike A Few Good Men for example, Pacino still had another 1-1.5 hours and so he then became the hotshot mafia boss. Relative to Caan’s more difficult, far more nuanced character, Pacino is left in the dust. Career-wise Caan gets far less credit than he is due in the acting world. While Joel Grey had some of the best facial expressions I have ever seen in film (Diane Keaton’s lack of them is the main reason I don’t like her very much), he wasn’t Caan caliber in screen time or in overall portrayal.
    Also, once I see The Great Ziegfeld I’ll be able to decide between Luise Rainer and Alice Brady once and for all. I watched My Man Godfrey yesterday and thought she was awesome. I can therefore understand why the Academy gave Brady the award in 1937 over Leeds.

    In conclusion, I’m guilty of as much career decision making as the next guy, despite my initial intentions. I love Ingrid Bergman, therefore she beats Olivia de Havilland (who on an unrelated note really was spectacular in Gone with the Wind and only just barely lost to Hattie McDaniel) and Celia Johnson.

    September 8, 2011 at 6:20 pm

  4. E.Cm.

    Jennifer Connelly as a supporting actress is totally tolerable.
    R.Crowe is in every single scene of “A beautiful mind”, Connelly appears after almost 40 minutes (If I don’t err)…and, even after her entrance in scene, there are some parts of the movie where she is completely absent. The story is entirely about Crowe’s character, J.Connelly has a typical supporting role with a cospicuous screen time, but it is absolutely smaller than the time in scene of the protagonist (Crowe). She isn’t the female protagonist, imo.
    But if she was inserted in the leading category, it would have been passable (considering her screen time)……..but her nomination in the supporting category was more suitable and compelling. The same thing happened with J.Lange, G.Davis and M.Sorvino some years before.
    I think that J.Broadbent as supporting actor was, probably, the true category fraud of Oscars ceremony in 2002. He was perfect in his performance, I agree…..but, for me, he had a leading role in “Iris”. Judy Dench and J.Broadbent were the protagonists, woman and man, of the film. (Like Paltrow and Fiennes in “Shakespeare in love”, for example)… Broadbent deserved to win best supporting actor for “Moulin Rouge” the same year, because that was a true performance of a character actor.

    March 23, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.