2011 in Film (Best Supporting Actress)

2012 was a strong year for actresses. Best supporting actress being no exception. Last night we saw Octavia Spencer take home the little gold man for her performance in “The Help”. Well on my list, she didn’t even make the top 10. Am I crazy? I don’t think so. Here’s my comprehensive list.


*Rose Byrne* in Bridesmaids
*Sarah Paulson* in Martha Marcy May Marlene
*Melanie Laurent* in Beginners
*Evan Rachel Wood* in The Ides of March
*Octavia Spencer* in The Help

In a year of some wonderful comedic performances, Rose Byrne was rather overlooked for her fantastic work in Bridesmaids. I am a huge friend of Damages, which she is stellar in! This was a side I had never seen before. And outside of Kristin Wiig and the wonderful Melissa McCarthy, Byrne was the other shining star in a great movie. Sarah Paulson’s work in MMMM was something special and really was the solidarity the movie needed. Beginners was a fantastic film, which was overlooked outside of Christopher Plummer. Melanie Laurent was no exception, proving she is on track to huge acclaim one day soon. Evan Rachel Wood is sometimes a tabloid target, but she pulled out the unthinkable and turned in my favorite performance in a cast filled with brilliant actors. Then we have Octavia Spencer who was wonderful in The Help. I, however, feel that it was not quite all it’s been made out to be. Hysterical and occasionally moving, she was a force on the screen. But the film didn’t allow her much to do outside of be the witty best friend. However it’s easily a mention able performance at the end of the year.

#10 – Rachael Blake – Sleeping Beauty

Julia Leigh’s movie was all over the place, however it featured this stellar performance which makes it all worthwhile. Leaving the theatre a little confused (and very intrigued), my biggest thought was – I want to see Clara’s story. Blake played Clara – the madame of a very exclusive and very dangerous sexual fetish club. With a different script, and a bit more screen time, this could have been one of the best performances of the year.

#9 – Jessica Chastain – The Help & Take Shelter

Yeah it’s my list – I can have a tie! What a year for miss Chastain. She was in 6 films (these along with Tree of Life, Texas Killing Fields, Coriolanus, etc). And she was stellar in all of them. In any other year, I think she would have been a big winner, but this year I don’t think people could decide what their favorite Jessica Chastain performance was – myself included. She was easily the best thing about The Help. Taker Shelter was phenomenal all the way around. This year was all about her rise to our consciousness – and I hope she’s here to stay! (With her lineup for next year .. my guess is she will be)

#8 – Louise Harris – Snowtown

In yet another “worst mother of the year” performance, Louise Harris turns in something really spectacularly difficult to watch. As the matriarch of the Harvey family, she proves to have the worst intuition around as she falls for a psychopathic serial killer and allows her children to form very strong bonds with him. But this is a wounded woman, not an evil woman. Somehow her performance rides that very fine line. I love an evil mother role (and so does Oscar). This one lies somewhere between Mo’Nique in Precious and Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom.

#7 – Carey Mulligan – Shame

As Sissy Sullivan, the sister to Michael Fassbinder’s sexaholic, Mulligan turned in my favorite performance of her career. Although the film wasn’t plot heavy, Mulligan’s performance gave us back story – which is sometime’s very hard to do. She turned in a subtle performance, that always seemed to be about to rip at the seams. I look forward to her getting recognition she deserves in “The Great Gatsby” this year.

#6 – Jessica Chastain – The Tree of Life

After much thought, this is my favorite Chastain performance of the year. In Mrs. O’Brien we could all see our mother’s growing up. An endlessly loving and kind figure struggling to catch her footing as her children grow and mature. She got to express a lifetime of emotions without much dialogue and interspersed between half hour nature segments, and she never lost her power. This film was lovely, and the performance of her and Brad Pitt as maturing parents are the key factor in making it work.

#5 – Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids

What a sigh of relief I expelled when I saw the Oscars had noticed McCarthy’s work in their nomination list. Traditionally comedic performances do not get recognized. This was something different altogether. First there’s the visual, which McCarthy put together herself. A rather loose butch look complete with wrist guard and strand of pearls. Then there’s the over-the-top comedic raunch which rarely we ever seen done so well (especially by a woman). Then there’s the humanity that McCarthy brings to the character. The scene in which she reports on her past traumas in high school is unbelievably real – because she connects with this character and in a rip-roaring “crass” comedy, to be able to break through to emotional realness – is rare.

#4 – Charlotte Gainsbourg – Melancholia

Attempting what not many women have done (doing 2 Lars Von Trier films), Gainsbourg turned in a remarkably different performance. She was last seen as the self mutilating psychopathic “woman” in Antichrist (another brilliant performance). Here she plays Claire – a woman who is surprisingly together (or so it seems). A lot is crumbling around her and she stands strong trying to create a balance in her family. Von Trier always turns out the best in his actresses, and this is no exception – the second time around.

#3 – Berenice Bejo – The Artist

In the years most charming film, Bejo turns in the years most charming performance. I dare you not to smile at Bejo whenever she is on screen. Just like her character, Peppy, Bejo is the fresh face on the scene that is stealing all the focus. There’s not much more I can say about how likable she is, not only as the character, but as a screen presence. I liked the movie quite a bit, but she was truly the standout for me.

#2 – Ellen Burstyn – Another Happy Day

So few people saw this movie that I fear I could be alone in how much I loved it – and this performance. Burstyn is always strong, and here she gets to really chew the scenery up. As the matriarch of a truly dysfunctional family – Burstyn gives new meaning to the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. Her sparring matches with Ellen Barkin (you will hear more about her later in a different post) are things of legend. She mixes humor with hurt – and no one does it better. This film is on dvd, so do yourself a favor and check it out.

#1 – Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs

There was a lot of talk about Albert Nobbs. A lot of people expressed dissapointment. You won’t find that here. I loved the movie – and this performance by the fantastic Janet McTeer was a revelation. Glenn Close’s work was brilliance, but McTeer was other wordly. I didn’t doubt her as Hubert Page once throughout the film. There wasn’t a false note. I’ve seen it 3 times now and each time I appreciate the movie more – and this performance blows me away each and every time. If you’ve heard Albert Nobbs was a mess – don’t believe it. See it, if only for McTeer.

Now it’s your turn!
What do you think of my choices?
Who’s your pick? 


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