Best Supporting Actress Rewind: 1982

1982 saw a rising star named Jessica Lange score a trophy in the Supporting Actress category for what was essentially a lead role in Tootsie, in the same year she was nominated as Best Actress for Frances. Statuesque obviously adores all things Lange, but the award in this category actually should have gone to one of her co-stars.

Oscar's nominees:

Glenn Close ... The World According to Garp

Teri Garr ... Tootsie

Jessica Lange ... Tootsie

Kim Stanley ... Frances

Leslie Ann Warren ... Victor Victoria

The five women nominated for Best Supporting Actress of 1982 were all pretty much deserving, if conventional choices. Far be it for me to deny Jessica Lange an Oscar win, but she is the leading lady of Tootsie, and the film's emotional center. Since the Best Actress Oscar had been long-since preordained to go to Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice, Lange's bid for a win in that race was not ever going to happen as much as she deserved the win. Since Lange's electric turn in Frances already had everyone buzzing, voters saw fit to knock down her Tootsie co-lead to supporting status, thus securing Lange a win in arguably one of the most important years of her entire career. That said, I would personally cite her as Best Actress of the year for both films.

Close's work in The World According to Garp can be a bit maudlin at times, and in the years immediately following, the actress had to fight hard against being typecast as an earth mother type. Her turn as Robin Williams' feminist mother would not make my top five in this year, nor would Lange's Tootsie co-star Teri Garr.

Out of Oscar's nominees, I would definitely keep Leslie Ann Warren's ditzy blonde in Victor Victoria, a performance that is as effervescent and refreshing as a slow gin fizz. My winner would be the ferocious powerhouse Kim Stanley for her cunning, detailed work as Frances Farmer's mother Lillian; a woman whose own dreams were never realized who is living vicariously -- and at times violently -- through her daughter's celebrity. At one point in the film, Lillian is put in a position where she must become Frances' legal custodian, and Stanley's authoritative work shows off the complexities of what that responsibility means to Lillian: she's in control, she's savoring the moment in a perverse, smug way. Stanley doesn't shy away from the character's ugliness or her role in the eventual degradation and downfall of her daughter, who she has repeatedly committed to asylums where she is raped, electro-shocked into zombiedom, and finally given a lobotomy. Lillian through it all just wants one thing: for her daughter to go back to work so she can once again live a lost Hollywood dream.

Aside from Stanley's brilliant work opposite a raw, riveting turn from Lange (one of her best) and Warren's sweet work, I would also nominate two of the co-stars of Robert Altman's largely-unseen Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean: Karen Black and Cher. The film, with an all-female cast, is an thoughtful, incisive snapshot of small town Texas and a riotous look at the gender and sexual dynamics of a group of friends who were brought together in their teens by a James Dean fanclub. Years have gone by and their ringleader, played with twitchy energy by Sandy Dennis, still is not over the heartthrob's untimely death. Cher and Black play key members of the group, each with secrets that are revealed in almost Bergmanian close-ups that crackle with emotional intensity. Both actresses reach career heights in the film, playing their interesting, original characters with flinty good humor and serious dramatic chops. Rounding out my top five would be Charlotte Rampling's mystery woman in Sidney Lumet's courtroom drama The Verdict.

Mazur's nominees:

Karen Black ... Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

Cher … Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

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Charlotte Rampling ... The Verdict

Kim Stanley ... Frances

Leslie Ann Warren ... Victor Victoria

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