January 14, 2007

MOVIES: Best of 2006 -- supporting actress

A tough category this year, and hard to narrow down to only five; several of my finalists were the best things about movies that I didn't like very much. Choosing the winner, however, was the easiest choice of the year.

The runners-up:
  • Claire-Hope Ashitey, Children of Men
  • Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stranger Than Fiction
  • Carmen Maura, Volver
  • Grace Zabriskie, Inland Empire

The finalists:

  • Adriana Barraza, Babel -- like everyone else in the movie, Amelia makes more stupid mistakes in one day than any real person makes in a lifetime. But Barraza plays the character beautifully; I felt more sympathy for her plight than for any of Babel's other characters. And when she does get to relax and simply enjoy herself at the wedding, she's so lovely and filled with joy as to almost be a different person.
  • Marcia Gay Harden, The Dead Girl -- heartbreaking work, as Harden comes to grip with the violent death of her daughter, and then with the knowledge of just how little she knew about the girl. It's not a flashy performance, but every word and gesture is perfectly calibrated.
  • Phyllis Somerville, Little Children -- it's through Somerville's performance, and May's painful knowledge that her son will never find the peace he seeks, that Ronnie miraculously becomes a sympathetic character; her love for him makes it impossible for us to see him as just a monster.
  • Maribel Verdu, Pan's Labyrinth -- at first glance, Mercedes might seem to be a placid, obedient household servant, but Verdu makes it clear that she's the strongest, bravest person in the house; she earns our sympathy so completely that we're actually rooting for her to be more violent in her final confrontation with the movie's villain.

And the winner:

  • Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls -- yes, she can sing. Good lord, can she sing; "And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going" is the movie scene of the year, and even with fluffier material like "Love You I Do," she's riveting. But the acting is just as good; watch her face when she's demoted to backup singer, or listen to the desperation in her voice as she begs for an audition at a small jazz club. Hudson is the real deal, and it's going to be fascinating to see where she goes from here.

No comments: