Sunday, May 3, 2009

2008 Diva Cup Awards: Best Supporting Actress

Hiam Abbass
The Visitor
Talk about doing a lot with very little. Abbass's character is the traditional self-sacrificing, mother-in-distress we've seen since the beginnings of narrative cinema. This doesn't mean, however, that Abbass's performance is anything short of spectacular. She doesn't do much, but what she does do will break your heart. Motherly love has never been so pure and unconditional. And her scenes with Richard Jenkins? Immaculately underplayed, matching Jenkins and the film exquisitely. I honestly can't wait to dig into Abbass's filmography now (and hopefully get the chance to see her upcoming Lemon Tree).

Penélope Cruz
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
The film before her entrance is a complete mess--a disgusting sexual romp in which a swarmy Javier Bardem tries to bed a straight-laced Rebecca Hall and a sexually liberated (or so she thinks) ScarJo that's so dirty I needed penicillin afterward--but once Penélope Cruz's Maria Elena emerges, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is never the same. Cruz's Maria Elena is beautiful, fiery, passionate and hot-tempered, but also tormented, needy and jealous. Her character goes through 100 different moods and emotions during the course of the film and is written in the usual Woody Allen women-are-neurotic-nutjobs way, but it never feels cheap or shameless. Cruz makes Maria Elena desperately human, driven by the same needs and desires we are--the only difference is they are turned up to eleven for all to see.

Rosemarie DeWitt
Rachel Getting Married
When we first meet DeWitt's Rachel, we come to believe that she is the victim, a pawn trapped in Kym's delirious game of guilt and passing the blame. Later on, however, after Kym's excruciatingly self-centered rehearsal dinner toast, Rachel lashes out at her and we begin to see a different side of her. Is she really the villian in this whole thing? Who knows. Out conception of her is so radically different at this moment that it would take a strong actress to make it work. Thankfully, DeWitt is just the woman this film needs.

Ashley Tisdale
High School Musical 3: Senior Year
From my profile of La Tisdale for the 2008 Supporting Actress Blog-a-thon: "
HSM3 is more concerned with the bland relationship between singing jock Troy (Zac Efron) and his annoying sweetheart Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) than anything else, so that means all of the supporting characters are relegated to the sidelines even more than before. But that's no problem for La Tisdale, who often does her best work from the edges, upstaging the other hapless performers like nobody's business. When the entire cast is gathered together for the first time at the spring musical tryouts, no one in the cast besides Troy is given much to do, but La Tisdale knows how to focus the attention of a scene on her whenever the script blindly ignores her. Her comedic timing on such simple quips as her sarcastic "Yipee" when the rest of the Wildcats decide to join the play at Gabriella's insistence or "Genius," delivered with such eye-rolling deliciousness when Mrs. Darbus announces the subject of this year's spring musical, is light years ahead of anyone on the cast. Director Kenny Ortega hasn't had to deal with someone with this style of over-the-top, nearly drag queen-esque, comedic chops since Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus (a performer Tisdale is eerily reminiscent of) but, thankfully, he lets her perform with reckless abandon all over the film."

Marisa Tomei
The Wrestler
I have to admit that until last year, I never really cared much about Marisa Tomei's last year. I have never seen her controversial Oscar-winning work in My Cousin Vinny and, in fact, the only two films I had seen of hers until last year were In the Bedroom (don't remember much) and, randomly Chaplin (I've seen this movie at least twice and had no idea she was in it). Then came her subtly crafted performance in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and I was intrigued by what Ms. Tomei had to offer. And now here we are at The Wrestler, her Oscar-nominated triumph where subtlety is the name of the game. Tomei has everything going against her--no big showy scenes to work with and an absolutely clichéd "whore with a heart of gold" character--yet she still manages to craft an absolutely compelling character. Her best moment is during the scene where she's wandering around the strip club, trying to entice a guy to let her give him a private dance, and she keeps getting rejected. She tries to keep up her spirits, but you can see in her face how much it's hurting her to be rejected just because of her age. It's at this moment that we realize her character is supposed to mirror The Ram's downfall and make it all the more uncomfortable and hard to watch.

If Only There Were Six: Isla Fisher, Definitely, Maybe

Rest of the Top 10
: Dianne Wiest, Synecdoche, New York...Anne Consigny, A Christmas Tale...Ari Graynor, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist...Alexis Zegerman, Happy-Go-Lucky

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

5 comments:

Dave said...

Isla Fisher?! I love you.

Ari Graynor and Anne Consigny are more than deserving nominees, too, just shows how crowded it all is. A terrific line-up however.

anahita said...

omg WATCH my cousin vinny. It is absolute genius, one of my favourite films ever - and tomei really really deserved her oscar.

and yay, I loved rosemary dewitt too :) xx

Nick Plowman said...

Woot, fabulous nominees - all of 'em, and a very deserving winner too. I still drool a little when I read your Ashley Tisdale, supporting actress blog-a-thon post. <3

Emma said...

An absolute class line-up. Hiam Abbass is in my top 10 performances of the year, with Tomei and Cruz not far outside. And I love that you rate Tisdale, HSM ftw. :)

Vance said...

love the list!