Saturday, January 26, 2008

Best Supporting Actress

The race for Best Supporting Actress features a wide variety of performances this year. Young Saoirse Ronan got her nomination for a brief but intense performance in Atonement and Amy Ryan put forth an equally intense performance as a grieving mother in Gone Baby Gone. In both cases, I think age will work against them, especially considering the veterans who fill out the category. Cate Blanchett (the only previous winner in this group) plays electric-era Bob Dylan in I'm Not There - a role she shares with several other actors and a clever bit of casting that yielded a bravura performance. If she wins, she will be the second person to win an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite gender (Linda Hunt was the first). This could also be her second win for playing a prominent 20th-Century performer. We shouldn't count out nominee #4, Ruby Dee. Age and experience are always a factor in an Oscar race and sometimes voters will choose the veteran receiving her first nomination over the more challenging performance. I call this the "She was due" argument. Also known as the "Don Ameche Effect." Filling out the category is Tilda Swinton, who plays a reluctantly amoral corporate spokeswoman in Michael Clayton . There are a few reasons why I think she will win. First, the British actress pulls off an excellent American accent. Second, she is the most fully-formed, human character in the bunch. Swinton reveals her character's tough, polished exterior and, in private moments, her regret, fear, and insecurity. Finally, even though she has supporting screen time, she actually has the leading female role in the Michael Clayton cast. Amy Ryan may also claim that distinction, but I think Swinton's performance will get recognized. The vast majority of the voting body is actors and Michael Clayton is clearly an acting showcase above all else. My pick goes to Tilda Swinton.

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