The Oscar Quest Reconsidered: Ranking the Best Supporting Actresses

I originally posted a version of this list in early 2012. Mostly because I like making lists. There was no real methodology to it. I looked back at it at some point in the past four months and saw it skewed heavily toward personal preference. The performances I liked the best went to the top, and the performances I thought were terrible winners went straight to the bottom.

Since the Oscar Quest, Version 2 that I’ve been doing, I noticed the point of it was more to reflect what my thoughts were now five years later from the completion/posting of all the original articles. I tried to stay away from redoing everything I did the first time, because a lot of it felt like it begat negativity on my part. I really don’t want to shit on things now so much as I’d want to openly discuss what is or isn’t a good choice historically.

Because that’s now where I’m at, I think redoing these lists is something I can get away with. If only to give myself a marker for where my head is at now.

I’m not putting any stock into these whatsoever. I don’t even really want to make these easily findable for people, though I guess I should, if only to track changes over the years. I was going to write up actual opinions for each one, justifying its position, but that’s a fool’s errand. That’s for people looking for extra clicks and people writing in the comments. I don’t want that. This is purely for me.

The first time I wrote this up, I specified that the rankings were not me attempting to make a list for everyone to follow. It was just my favorites. This time, I think what I ended up doing was trying to factor in everything into the decision. How iconic the performance/film is, how good of a choice it was in its year (extremely strong choices get slight bumps, and extremely weak choices get slight deductions), and also how I feel about them.

So here’s where my head is at now on all the Best Supporting Actress winners:

1. Hattie McDaniel, Gone With the Wind

2. Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker

3. Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer

4. Rita Moreno, West Side Story

5. Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously

6. Estelle Parsons, Bonnie and Clyde

7. Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot

8. Mo’Nique, Precious

9. Jane Darwell, The Grapes of Wrath

10. Viola Davis, Fences

11. Kim Hunter, A Streetcar Named Desire

12. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

13. Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon

14. Ruth Gordon, Rosemary’s Baby

15. Cloris Leachman, The Last Picture Show

16. Melissa Leo, The Fighter

17. Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men

18. Claire Trevor, Key Largo

19. Jo Van Fleet, East of Eden

20. Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

21. Olympia Dukakis, Moonstruck

22. Cate Blanchett, The Aviator

23. Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite

24. Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener

25. Katina Paxinou, For Whom the Bell Tolls

26. Shelley Winters, The Diary of Anne Frank

27. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

28. Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

29. Anjelica Huston, Prizzi’s Honor

30. Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind

31. Shelley Winters, A Patch of Blue

32. Mary Steenburgen, Melvin and Howard

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

34. Eva Marie Saint, On the Waterfront

35. Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

36. Dianne Wiest, Hannah and Her Sisters

37. Peggy Ashcroft, A Passage to India

38. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

39. Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

40. Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King

41. Maureen Stapleton, Reds

42. Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

43. Beatrice Straight, Network

44. Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love

45. Maggie Smith, California Suite

46. Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost

47. Vanessa Redgrave, Julia

48. Jessica Lange, Tootsie

49. Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

50. Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential

51. Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

52. Goldie Hawn, Cactus Flower

53. Anne Revere, National Velvet

54. Lila Kedrova, Zorba the Greek

55. Wendy Hiller, Separate Tables

56. Anna Paquin, The Piano

57. Lee Grant, Shampoo

58. Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

59. Shirley Jones, Elmer Gantry

60. Dorothy Malone, Written on the Wind

61. Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge

62. Ethel Barrymore, None But the Lonely Heart

63. Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted

64. Donna Reed, From Here to Eternity

65. Josephine Hull, Harvey

66. Teresa Wright, Mrs. Miniver

67. Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist

68. Margaret Rutherford, The VIPs

69. Helen Hayes, Airport

70. Gloria Grahame, The Bad and the Beautiful

71. Celeste Holm, Gentleman’s Agreement

72. Eileen Heckart, Butterflies Are Free

73. Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

74. Mary Astor, The Great Lie

75. Octavia Spencer, The Help

76. Alice Brady, In Old Chicago

77. Fay Bainter, Jezebel

78. Ingrid Bergman, Murder on the Orient Express

79. Gale Sondergaard, Anthony Adverse

80. Miyoshi Umeki, Sayonara

81. Renée Zellweger, Cold Mountain

2 responses

  1. A

    Were the hell did that number one come from such a two-dimensional performance ?

    June 4, 2017 at 10:04 am

  2. In all the lists I’ve seen, I have never seen Mo’Nique’s performance in Precious rank any lower than the Top 10. An amazing performance especially from someone who was mostly known as a comedian before that film.

    December 28, 2017 at 10:17 pm

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