Best Supporting Actress Rewind: 1990

Did Oscar get this category's line-up all wrong? In the Best Supporting Actress category, this is usually a rhetorical question.

First, let's start by looking at how Oscar got it wrong:

Oscar's Nominees:

Annette Bening ... The Grifters

Lorraine Bracco ... Goodfellas

Whoopi Goldberg ... Ghost *

Mary McDonnell ... Dances with Wolves

Diane Ladd ... Wild at Heart

Whoopi Goldberg became the second black woman to win a Supporting Actress Oscar in 1990 for such a crowd-pleasingly funny turn in the box office blockbuster Ghost that is seems almost unfair to say she wasn't really amongst the year's top five Supporting Actress performances. But alas, trying to be objective, her broadly comedic work had little substance to it, as enjoyable as it might be. Many pundits factored her strong, Oscar-nominated work in Steven Speilberg's The Color Purple into her win, noting that in most other years, she would have won the award for Best Actress (she lost to legend Geraldine Page for her work in The Trip to Bountiful).

Fellow nominee Lorraine Bracco has always come across, at least to me, as being the weakest link in a true powerhouse of a cast in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. Her performance as "Karen Hill" never feels completely full. A Dances With Wolves sweep propelled character actress Mary McDonnell into the race playing a white woman raised as a Native American. In retrospect, McDonnell's nomination was to be expected, and her work is interesting and well-put-together, but the film overall lacks grace and guts, doing McDonnell's performance no favors.

Out of the five actresses nominated for Best Supporting Actress is 1990, I would keep two in my line up: Nominated somewhat inexplicably following a grass roots campaign, veteran character actress Diane Ladd did a smashing job in David Lynch's Wild at Heart with her brilliantly-played grotesquerie that riffed on the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz. The fifth Oscar nominee should have been the winner, and that statuette should have gone to Annette Bening for her astonishing work in The Grifters, referencing and updating the salacious, scandalous noir dame Gloria Grahame had patented decades before. Her electric chemistry opposite Anjelica Huston needs to be seen to be believed.

Rounding out my personal top five would be perennial nominees Joan Cusack and Dianne Wiest who were both somehow overlooked for two of their best performances: Cusack as a daffy cougar nurse opposite Jessica Lange in Men Don't Leave and Wiest as Edward Scissorhands' sweetly suburban mother figure. And a woman that has shockingly never been Oscar-nominated, Jennifer Jason Leigh. Leigh took the New York Film Critics' Society award for Best Supporting Actress and many thought she was headed for her first nomination for playing two different kinds of hookers in two very dark films. Eventually Leigh's sultry, fearless work was outrageously overlooked when the nominations were announced. For me, she is a close runner up for the win on the pure strength of those physical, instinctual performances that only come along once in a lifetime for most actors. Leigh has spent the better part of her career delivering work at this same intense level -- from the underrated Rush, to the delirious neo noir of Single White Female, to the ballsy Georgia, to the brash sensuality of Margot at the Wedding -- and has still to date not been given an Oscar nomination. Think about that. Why has Jennifer Jason Leigh never been nominated for an Oscar?

That said, for me this is, and always has been, Annette Bening's year to win.

Mazur's Nominees:

Annette Bening ... The Grifters *

Joan Cusack … Men Don’t Leave

Diane Ladd ... Wild at Heart

Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Last Exit to Brooklyn & Miami Blues ^

Dianne Wiest ... Edward Scissorhands

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.