Thursday, May 30, 2024

How Were They NOT Nominated? Best Supporting Actress Edition

Academy Award season has passed. Debates over who will win and why have died down.  However, the talk of snubs and “this person should have won” will continue.                                                                                                                                                                    

We all have our favorite actors and actresses who have never won an Oscar. I’m still sad that Peter O’Toole only received an Honorary Oscar. It’s even more sad that there are a number of great actors and actresses who have never even received a nomination. Today, I present a list of incredible performances that absolutely deserved a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. 

 

Margaret Hamilton as The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939). 

All movie lovers know that 1939 is considered one of the best years in film. Gone with the Wind, Stagecoach, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington all came out this year. Gone with the Wind had two actresses nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American actress to win an acting award. McDaniel was wonderful as the only character in the film who could see past Scarlett’s facade. Sadly ignored by the Academy is another actress who played a role that is part of American film iconography: Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in The WIzard of Oz. I’ve seen this film at least once a year since I was a child, and even more now that I have children of my own. I’ll be honest, The Wicked Witch of the West is just as terrifying today as she was when I was young, and probably ever since 1939 when the film was released. Were there films with witches in them before The Wizard of Oz? Maybe. I really don’t know. But, when people think of witches, they think of them the way Margaret Hamilton portrayed one. The hat, the green skin, all of the iconic lines, the cackle, it’s all there. She is one of the most important reasons why that movie is such a beloved classic.

 

Pamela Franklin as Sandy in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969). 

Dame Maggie Smith took home the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance of Jean Brodie, the passionate, fascist loving teacher at the Marcia Blaine school in Scotland. Pamela Franklin plays her student, Sandy. Franklin won the Best Supporting Actress in the National Board of Review, yet was ignored by the Academy. While Smith was a powerhouse, she was equally matched with the young actress who plays her student/nemesis. Sandy is a highly intelligent and perceptive young woman, whom Brodie often says would make a great spy. She spends much of the movie quietly observing Brodie’s behaviors, relationships with men, and admiring her. Her loyalty starts to fade upon the untimely death of a fellow student. In the film, Franklin has to age from a young adolescent, full of the idealism of her favorite teacher, to a young woman who sees her teacher as she really is, a woman with foolish ideals of Fascism, and a dangerous influence on her students. We see her as a young teenager, writing fake love letters and giggling with her friend, Jenny; and later, a strong and independent woman having a love affair with her married art teacher. She is the only member of the “Brodie set” who sees Brodie for who she really is, and sets out to “put a stop” to her. Her final scene with Maggie Smith is a stunning piece of acting. She absolutely deserved a nomination for that scene alone,and it’s a real loss that while she later went on to do some work in television, and several films, none of them reached the dramatic heights of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

 

Cameron Diaz as Lotte Schwartz in Being John Malkovich (1999). 

I first experienced Cameron Diaz in the film The Mask where she played a gorgeous blonde who catches the eye of Jim Carrey. She continued on with her blonde perfection in My Best Friend’s Wedding. I admit, at the time, I was not overly impressed by her. However, in 1999, she was in the eccentric film Being John Malkovich, playing the tragic lovelorn Lotte, obsessed with her pets, and married to John Cusack, who is himself enamored with Catherine Keener. She is able to get inside the actor John Malkovich, and also becomes focused  on Catherine Keener. Being John Malkovich is a brilliant and original film. Diaz really got a chance to play someone against her bright and sunny style. She had been charming and delightful in comedies, and this is the first time I saw her play someone homely and a bit strange. Diaz playing Lotte showed me what a talented character actress she can be. She breaks my heart over and over in this film, in a role that I never could have seen Diaz playing.

 

Emily Blunt as Emily Charlton in The Devil Wears Prada (2006).  

The Devil Wears Prada was a vehicle to show off the talents of the great Meryl Streep, and the young Anne Hathaway. While both actresses are at their best in this film, Emily Blunt is clearly the highlight. She more than held her own against the formidable Streep. She played the role of an always close to a panic attack assistant with ease. Blunt gave this harried character sophistication, snobbery, and effortless style. She also shows great comedic timing when she makes comments about Hathaway’s character’s “hideous skirts” and other fashion faux-pas. The fact that Emily Blunt has continued her career brilliantly playing memorable roles, and still not been nominated for an Oscar is a crime. 

 

Cho Yeo-jeong as Mrs. Park in Parasite (2019) 

Parasite was a powerhouse, groundbreaking film. It introduced many of us to the magic that is South Korean film, and the phenomenal talents of director Bong Joon-Ho. It is well deserving of being the first film in a foreign language to win Best Picture. Sadly, though, while the film received the SAG award for Best Ensemble, this wonderful cast of actors, who played such varied and interesting characters, were completely ignored at the Oscars. While an argument can be made as towhy most of the cast deserved a nomination, I have decided to focus on Cho Yeo-jeong, who played the wealthy Mrs. Park. Mrs. Park could have been a one-dimensional spoiled rich woman. She is described as “simple” and, as the plot of the film unfolds, she is quite easily manipulated by her servants. But, Mrs. Park is more than just a spoiled, rich woman. We see her trying to make sure her children get the best care. She agonizes over the safety of her son who has had a traumatic moment in childhood. She hires private teachers and tutors to ensure a fine education for her children. Yes, she is a snob. Yes, she is spoiled. She is not, however, a truly awful person. It is because she gives employment to her servants that they are able to survive. Parasite is a true modern classic, and much of the reason is because the incredible script was performed by a terrific cast of actors. However, Cho Yeo-jeong truly stands out and should have been nominated for an Oscar.

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