Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Couchies Part III

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Rachel Clift - Mutual Appreciation

Ok, so I'll admit that the supporting actress category will be a little thin. When you consider that I only have 26 movies to go on and that few movies feature well written female characters to begin with, the pickings get pretty slim. If I had reviewed Gone Baby Gone, Amy Ryan's incredible performance as Dorchester's worst mom would have easily won, but no such luck Ames. Anyway, Clift was very good as a standard twentysomething. I liked her.

Catalina Sandino Moreno
- Fast Food Nation

In a very very bad movie, Moreno is a real standout, marshaling her Connellysian ability to endure pain and suffering as an immigrant forced to work in a meat packing plant. Apparently, not only are the big fast food companies responsible for awful food and the destruction of rain forests, but for also employing misogynist bosses who use their positions to extract sexual favors from their employees. And while the treatment that Moreno endures is indeed shocking, it is to her credit that when she is on the screen, you don't even think to ask what a BJ in a pick-up has to do with the quality of meat at your local McD's.

Hanna Schygulla - Werkmeister Harmonies

Schygulla's Aunt Tünde may be the most frightening element of Werkmeister Harmonies. And this is in a movie that features a giant whale, a "prince" with the ability to destroy a town, a murderous band of local thugs who like to beat up hospital patients, little kids screaming "I'll be hard on you" over and over again into a rotating fan, and government helicopters rounding up dissidents. So great is her power that her former husband György agrees to drop his life-consuming project in order to round up signatures for her. How? Merely by having her suitcases placed by the entrance of his house. After gruffly telling his nephew to "take them to the far side of the house," the old man bundles up to head out into the cold and do her bidding.

Simone Signoret - Army of Shadows

With wins at the Oscars and Cannes under her belt, the late Signoret is certainly the most accomplished actress in the category. I have never seen Room at the Top or some of her early 60s roles, but after seeing her in Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows, it was a shock to see that she had been in so many racy roles (read: prostitute). To her credit, she is mostly able to conceal her considerable sexuality in the character of the gruff and loyal resistance fighter Mathlide. Like the other actors, Signoret is hesitant to give much away to the camera or her fellow resistance fighters, but in doing so, she creates the most well-rounded character of the movie, and provides an example of how to write a serious role for a woman that doesn't involve the world's oldest profession.

And the Winner is...

Molly Shannon - Marie Antoinette

Heh, heh, heh....no.
Let's try...

Margo Martindale - Paris Je T'aime (segment "14ème Arrondissement")

In the first dozen or so shorts from Paris Je T'aime, the directors try either for the obvious (the romantic) or the fantastic (mimes, vampires, musicals), but leave it to Alexander Payne to find the transcendent in the most mundane aspect of Parisian life: tourism. While the role was well written, Martindale is simply perfect as the wide-eyed American looking to find some meaning overseas that isn't available back in Denver. While she walks around town trying to communicate with the natives (just watching it made me hurt) we hear her heavily accented French in a letter to the people back home. It may sound corny, but there is a simple realism in her voice, in the quavers, the naive hopes and expectations, that is really heartbreaking. Martindale is a very underutilized actress (for obvious reasons), and I won't even bother to make the argument that so many movies fail because they are full of skinny blonds who pout, but well...it might be trite, but casting directors (ironically, almost always women) would do well to look for this kind of talent more often.

Next Up...Young pretty blond things who pout...er...I mean...Best Actress

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