Ranking the Best Supporting Actresses

As you can see by the amount of times I’ve done it so far on the blog, I like ranking things. Ranking things is fun.

Lists, of course, create controversy, because there’s always some schmuck that thinks something shouldn’t be ranked higher than something else. So before I create any list, I specify – this is not a be-all-end-all order. I’m just listing my favorites. The real purpose of this is – because I talk about so many films and put my opinions on so many films out there, people who read the blog really get a sense of my film tastes and how they correspond to their own. Therefore, when I provide these lists, people will be able to, based on prior knowledge of how my film tastes relate to theirs, crosscheck the films they have seen with the films they haven’t, and possibly discover some great films they haven’t seen yet.

The main goal here is for people to be like, “I like that movie, and he ranked this other one above it. So since I generally like a lot of the stuff he recommends, I’ll check it out.” Or the opposite; “He always like those damn movies. Well, at least I’ll know to skip it, since he always puts them that high.” This is why I like lists. Not to make definitive statements, but to show you more movies.

So I thought it would be fun to rank all the Oscar categories (that is, Quest categories. Big six). I decided to unveil them backwards, in order to build up to the one most people would obviously give a shit about — Best Picture. So today we start with the Supporting categories. First Best Supporting Actress, and then Best Supporting Actor in a little bit.

The problem starting with these two categories is that they’re typically the worst of the bunch. The Supporting categories, more so than any other, are almost a dumping ground for Oscar winners. Typically they reward either up-and-coming actors or veterans who’ve been around for a while and haven’t really been recognized yet. It’s a lot tougher to rank a category by performance when the winners aren’t necessarily based on performance. So the way I’m doing it (along with Best Supporting Actor) is ranking based on a combination of how memorable their performance was (be it iconic, just plain amazing, or both), and how much I liked the performance.

The goal here really is just to get people to see these movies. Don’t get so hung up on where things are ranked. It’s based on personal preference. (I’m perfectly willing to explain the rankings, though asking me to do so defeats the purpose of the list as I’ve defined it. And if you want to criticize anything, I require a minimum of 50 performances that you have to have seen before I take you even remotely seriously.)

Also, keep in mind, there are only 75 of these. The category only started in 1936.

Here are my rankings of the Best Supporting Actresses:

TIER 1: The Best of the Best:

1. Mo’Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

2. Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker

3. Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer

4. Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot

5. Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon

6. Estelle Parsons, Bonnie and Clyde

7. Hattie McDaniel, Gone With the Wind

8. Maggie Smith, California Suite

9. Anne Revere, National Velvet

10. Kim Hunter, A Streetcar Named Desire

TIER 2: Really Solid Performances:

11. Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

12. Dorothy Malone, Written on the Wind

13. Sandy Dennis, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

14. Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite

15. Eva Marie Saint, On the Waterfront

16. Rita Moreno, West Side Story

17. Melissa Leo, The Fighter

18. Shelly Winters, A Patch of Blue

19. Cate Blanchett, The Aviator

20. Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

21. Josephine Hull, Harvey

22. Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men

23. Goldie Hawn, Cactus Flower

24. Teresa Wright, Mrs. Miniver

25. Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind

26. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

27. Ruth Gordon, Rosemary’s Baby

28. Jane Darwell, The Grapes of Wrath

29. Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously

30. Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love

TIER 3: More Solid Performances/Sentimental Favorites:

31. Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge

32. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

33. Helen Hayes, Airport

34. Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King

35. Gloria Grahame, The Bad and the Beautiful

36. Beatrice Straight, Network

37. Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted

38. Lee Grant, Shampoo

39. Donna Reed, From Here to Eternity

40. Anjelica Huston, Prizzi’s Honor

TIER 4: Solid Performances All Around (But Not My Favorites):

41. Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost

42. Jessica Lange, Tootsie

43. Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

44. Shirley Jones, Elmer Gantry

45. Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

46. Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener

47. Octavia Spencer, The Help

48. Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

49. Celeste Holm, Gentleman’s Agreement

50. Cloris Leachman, The Last Picture Show

51. Wendy Hiller, Separate Tables

52. Jo Van Fleet, East of Eden

53. Margaret Rutherford, The V.I.P.s

TIER 5: Performances That are Good/Enjoyable, But….Mehh:

54. Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential

55. Diane Wiest, Bullets over Broadway

56. Claire Trevor, Key Largo

57. Eileen Heckart, Butterflies are Free

58. Mary Steenburgen, Melvin and Howard

59. Shirley Winters, The Diary of Anne Frank

60. Vanessa Redgrave, Julia

61. Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist

62. Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

63. Diane Wiest, Hannah and Her Sisters

64. Alice Brady, In Old Chicago

65. Olympia Dukakis, Moonstruck

66. Lila Kedrova, Zorba the Greek

67. Katina Paxinou, For Whom the Bell Tolls

68. Gale Sondergaard, Anthony Adverse

TIER 6: The Worst of the Worst:

69. Fay Bainter, Jezebel

70. Anna Paquin, The Piano

71. Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

72. Mary Astor, The Great Lie

73. Maureen Stapleton, Reds

74. Ingrid Bergman, Murder on the Orient Express

75. Peggy Ashcroft, A Passage to India

76. Renée Zellweger, Cold Mountain

77. Ethel Barrymore, None But the Lonely Heart

78. Miyoshi Umeki, Sayonara

Also check out:

Ranking the Best Pictures

Ranking the Best Actors

Ranking the Best Actresses

Ranking the Best Supporting Actors

Ranking the Best Directors


One response

  1. I’ll never understand why you hate Anna Paquin in The Piano so much and why you couldn’t see how amazing her performance really was when it was as plain as the nose on your face. I tried watching The Age of Innocence and I couldn’t get through the whole thing, and lot of that had to do with Ryder being so stiff and lifeless.

    September 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm

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