MY FAVORITE PERFORMANCES BY BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS OSCAR WINNERS:
( 1939 ) HATTIE McDANIEL in “GONE WITH THE WIND”
Mammy was the caretaker of the O’Hara family, making them her own. She ruled their roost with class and dignity even in the midst of the worst reason she was there. That’s probably the dignity and class carried by actress Hattie McDaniel to make this character more than a stereotype. She has strength and tenderness and wisom. This is one of my happiest Oscar wins.
( 1941 ) MARY ASTOR in “THE GREAT LIE”
She was beautiful, flamboyant and temperamental as the pianist who gives Bette Davis a hard way to go. Astor had been kicking around a long time in Hollywood. Glad she was awarded. She totally thanks Bette Davis for this Oscar. There’s something about Mary. Astor’s a beautiful and marvelous chameleon.
( 1946 ) CELESTE HOLM in “GENTLEMAN’S AGREE-MENT”
She was that down-to-earth
career gal, with good common sense, a sense of humor and a broken heart. Loved her in this. She didn’t get the boy in this (Peck) but she got an Oscar. Yaaay! ( Great in “All About Eve” too. )
( 1949 ) MERCEDES McCAMBRIDGE in “ALL THE KING’S MEN”
She’s like a rabid dog and I mean that in the best way possible. She snarls and growls, breaks pencils and chews lead. Why, in this role McCambridge could melt the chrome off a Buick and drink it like a martini. Magnificent and fearless.
If you make a good argument, if you don’t try and hit me on the top of my head, I’ll listen to you. And I listened. Donna Reed wins the “still waters run deep” award and shows that she has true grit in this performance. She is more than the girl-next-door she was usually relegated to playing. It might be a little shocking to see her play a sexy, uhmmm…”hostess” in a soldiers’ club, but she’s convincing. Under the make a man feel good, there’s goodness and softness for the right fella. You think you know Donna Reed? Give her another chance and see this.
Full disclosure – I have to give Dorothy all this room because she is one of my favorite actresses so I’m biased. Yes her role was over-the-top trampy…but hold on. That’s too easy. She’s really eaten up inside by her unrequited love for childhood friend Rock Hudson. It’s a tragedy all around and she’s at much of the center of it. She holds your attention too. You see her pain. Dot’s the whole movie for me. This “dance of death” ( which you can read one critic’s interpretation here, and watch the scene below ) may be the popular kitschy reason Ms. Malone won her award…
…and I’m okay with that too. Dorothy Malone gives a wonderfully spirited performance. Her fellow nominees that year were: Mildred Dunnock in “Baby Doll”, Eileen Heckart in “The Bad Seed”, Mercedes McCambridge in “Giant” and Patty McCormack in “The Bad Seed” and I’m not sure any one of them could dance. If you have a moment, check out this two-minute scene to give you some insight into Dorothy Malone’s character as the hell-bent Mary-Lee Hadley in “Written on the Wind.”
( 1973 ) TATUM O’NEAL “PAPER MOON”
This kid had more talent in her little finger than all the grownups (except Madeleine Kahn). Wise beyond her years, Tatum does a fantastic job and pulls out a great performance. I wish her career had continued this trajectory.
( 1976 ) BEATRICE STRAIGHT in “NETWORK”
A master class of acting, in just five minutes. She was brilliant. She expresses what abject be-trayal feels like. Every one can relate and she exposes it.
( 2009 ) MO’NIQUE in “PRECIOUS”
Simply put: terrifying. Unafraid. Think Shelley Winters in “A Patch of Blue.” The anger, the rage, the disappointment. She put it all out there. It’s not an easy perfor-mance to watch, but it took guts for her to go there.
( 2013 ) LUPITA NYONG’O “12 YEARS A SLAVE”
The whole history of EVERYTHING is right there in her scene about a bar of soap. Lupita Nyong’o does a heart-wrenching job of a woman living in slavery. She does what she can to survive and gets a glimpse of a different kind of a man when “Solomon” comes to the plantation and the impossible, far-fetched thought that another way of life could possibly exist.
What a beautiful girl, and an unforgettable job she did. I’m watching your career Lupita. You could be the next Audrey Hepburn while thoroughly being true to yourself.
NEXT: My Favorite BEST PICTURE Oscar winners…