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The Early Gems: Notable Performances From 2013's Best Supporting Actress Nominees

by The Playlist Staff
February 14, 2013 2:58 PM
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Jacki Weaver - "Picnic At Hanging Rock"
Jacki Weaver - "Picnic At Hanging Rock"
As far as most movie fans were concerned, Jacki Weaver was a virtual unknown when she won an Oscar nomination for her astonishing turn in "Animal Kingdom." And it's fair enough. The actress didn't even do that much cinema in Australia, let alone the U.S., tending to focus on stage work over her long career. But in fact, she did have a notable early role, in one of the most seminal Australian films of all time, and one that helped launch perhaps the country's greatest director, Peter Weir -- "Picnic At Hanging Rock." Weir's 1975 film, about a group of schoolgirls and their sometimes intimidating teachers, who mysteriously vanish after being drawn towards a peculiar rock formation in early 1900s Australia, is an eerie and outstanding look at brewing female sexuality, friendship, and the unknown, and features terrific performances from its young cast. But Weaver's scenes are something of an oddity. As maid Minnie, she's mostly outside of the main narrative, back at Appleyard College. But in her affair with fellow servant Tom (Tony Llewellyn-Jones), her character serves as a neat contrast to the more repressed teachers and pupils. While it's a very small part (in fact, Weaver says that she shot more, which Weir cut), she's very good, if unrecognizable from the terrifying Smurf from "Animal Kingdom," or even the sweet-natured Dolores in "Silver Linings Playbook." Also, keep an eye out for valet Albert -- that's John Jarratt, of "Wolf Creek" and more recently, "Django Unchained."

Sally Field, Norma Rae

Sally Field - "Norma Rae"
Like Hunt, Sally Field was famous long before she moved into movies, thanks to television -- in her case, with roles in "Gidget" and "The Flying Nun." And like Hunt, Field won an Oscar for her first really notable role, which also followed a big blockbuster ("Smokey And The Bandit" instead of "Twister"). Field's first Oscar came for the title role in "Norma Rae,"  and it capped off a year that found her winning the Best Actress prize at Cannes, too. In Martin Ritt's based-in-fact tale, Field plays Norma Rae Webster, a cotton mill worker who, fed up with the miserable working conditions, sets out to unionize her workplace, going head to head with management, and even her husband (Beau Bridges). The film is sentimental in places, and has probably been lessened by the many others made in its mold over the years ("Erin Brockovich," "North Country," "Made In Dagenham" et al), but holds up reasonably well, thanks to a progressive viewpoint on gender politics, and a detailed look at the politics of unionization. But it's worth checking out for Field alone; she's funny and tough and vulnerable and above all else, steely. The script gives her plenty of complexity and contradictions to play with (she can fight with her unreconstructed, somewhat boorish husband, but still love him), and Field really gets her teeth into the part. If nothing else, it should be watched if only for the contrast with her turn in "Lincoln."

Amy Adams, Junebug

Amy Adams in “Junebug"
Like many actors getting started, Amy Adams had to slum in crap like "Cruel Intentions 2," "Psycho Beach Party" and other similar crud before she got noticed. But that attention did quickly come. She nabbed a head-turning small role in Steven Spielberg’s “Catch Me If You Can” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in 2002, and scored the first supporting role in 2005's "The Wedding Date," but her breakthrough came with the Sundance hit “Junebug.” As the neurotic and underloved pregnant Southern firecracker Ashley Johnsten, Adams' furiously lived-in and organic turn won her a Special Jury Prize in Park City for her performance, and by the end of the year she found herself with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, plus an army of major awards and nominations under her belt, including Critics Choice, Gotham, Independent Spirit Awards, SAG, and National Society of Film Critics Awards. “Junebug” rightly put Adams on the map, and while she still enjoyed tackling sillier roles like “Enchanted” and “Talladega Nights” there is a definitive line to be drawn from “Junebug” to her four Academy Award nominations to date. Four nominations in seven years is nothing to sneeze at, and while she has yet to win (and it seems doubtful she will take the prize this year), at 38 years old, we presume Adams is only getting started.

- Oliver Lyttelton, Rodrigo Perez

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  • Quentin | February 15, 2013 2:54 PMReply

    YOUCANALWAYSTELLAMILFORDMAN, Anne Hathaway owned TDKR, and she was more than okay. She was great. I found Jennifer Lawrence bland in The Hunger Games. I never felt her grit, her pain, nor her desperation. I never felt Lawrence committed to her role. The young actress that portrayed her sister and the young actress that portrayed The Hunger Games girl that died in her arms- brought more heart and soul than Lawrence.
    I never said PTA is a bad filmmaker, but I didn't like Amy Adams' performance ( but she didn't have anything to work with ) . To be fair, he also didn't give Laura Dern a juicy role. Anderson's past couple films have mainly focused on the men- not the ladies. Amy did the Man of Steel movie , because she didn't get the Catwoman role. So, she wanted to do a comic book movie. Christian Bale mentioned that Anne Hathaway was the only actress that was able to act with a mask on- which is not easy to do.

  • yamaka | February 20, 2013 8:53 PM

    Oh nice to know you work for WB or under Chris Nolan? I never even heard of Adams auditioning for TDKR, so you can pause on that non-factoid. And it sounds more like you're talking about Jessica Biel who did audition for both TDKR and Man of Steel- not so much Adams. In any case, Hathaway is a mediocre actress and she isn't even 1/4 of the natural talent that Adams has always proven to be. Can you see her playing Charlene? Uh no.

  • Tobi | February 15, 2013 10:13 AMReply

    That picture of Anne Hathaway from 'Havoc' looks hot as can be. Also, just an error I noticed; Amy Adams has never been nominated for the Best Actress category. All four of her nominations were in the Supporting category.

  • Quentin | February 14, 2013 8:33 PMReply

    Havoc is a cult favorite, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's tough guy acting and his gangster rapping are unintentionally hilarious. Channing Tatum ( unknown at the time ) had a small role in that movie. Anne Hathaway owns Havoc, and she helped make the film reasonably watchable. Also, Anne had good chemistry with Mike Vogel and Freddy Rodríguez.

  • kindred spirit | February 14, 2013 7:31 PMReply

    This is just yet ANOTHER reminder that AMY ADAMS deserves the Oscar. Hathaway has been in FAR more duds than critical hits. And she does need a strong director to etch out a good performance. Adams, on the other hand, can shine in something as dull as The Trouble With the Curve. She gives consistently great performances. I mean, she's the best thing about Drop Dead Gorgeous. She should have won for The Fighter. And she's fantastic in The Master. Anne has had a good year but if you look at all her films prior - with an exception of Rachel Getting Married - she has had a very hit/miss resume.

  • YouCanAlwaysTellAMilfordMan | February 15, 2013 12:46 PM

    Hathaway won the role in The Dark Knight Rises(really boring film)is mainly due to Nolan's inability to work with women actors. He's gotten great performances from very few females. Carrie Ann-Moss was great in Memento, you know, back when Nolan was making films for adults, but her character was better off being a mystery. Look at films not The Prestige, and the performances or horrible selections Nolan makes with women. Hell, he does it with guys, too. Turns Christian Bale into Batman; who was this generation's DeNiro.

    Hathaway actually did okay in the most recent Nolan quick cut, never let the camera sit still, and show some action. He tricks people into thinking a film is more action packed, but it's still a bloated 3 hour film to make another billion. So... if you're implying that Paul Thomas Anderson isn't a great director(especially with women), you're insane. In the Master, I don't think Adams was that strong but it had two men in love while conning each other basically.

    But watch Boogie Nights or especially Magnolia for great performances. He got Tom Cruise to put on an acting clinic only to get dissed by the Academy. But I digress, Amy Adams can work with David O' Russell. And she's in a comic book movie that has Michael Shannon as Zod(he's the best actor you probably haven't heard of), the first actual Superman looking Superman, Academy Award winners surrounding the cast but no silly voices or just bad writing.

    Can you blame Hathaway for Valentine's Day, Bride Wars, another crappy Burton film Alice in Wonderland(we get it, he can only direct Johnny Depp), or the mediocre Love and Other Drugs?

    She's no Jennifer Lawrence who can keep street cred while being part of Hunger Games which is a blatant rip-off of Battle Royale and a thousand other books and movies.

  • coke | February 15, 2013 11:27 AM

    Are you saying Paul Thomas Anderson is not a strong director??And I think Amy's performance in Doubt was absolutely amazing.

  • Quentin | February 15, 2013 11:18 AM

    Kindred Spirit, Amy Adams only shines when she works with strong directors. She was awful , cloying ,and annoying in Doubt, Leap Year, On The Road, and The Master ( overrated performance with very little impact ) . Every actor and actress benefits from a strong filmmaker. That is why film and t.v. is a director's medium. Hilariously, Adams auditoned for Anne Hathaway's Catwoman role and Hathaway's Fantine role. Anne won both roles because she is the better actress ( and better at auditioning and screen testing ) .

    As for Havoc, the film producers edited the film and changed the film around without the director's permission. So, you cannot blame Hathaway for that, because she gave a good performance.

  • Liz | February 14, 2013 3:26 PMReply

    "Would we have given the Oscar to some of her competition that year? . . . Probably not. But it's a damn fine performance all the same . . ." Is that supposed to be just "probably"? Otherwise, the next sentence seems unnecessary.

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