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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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Yesterday, we began our coverage counting down to the 85th Academy Awards next Sunday, by taking a look at some of the best early performances of the Best Supporting Actor nominees. So today, the only natural place to go was across the gender divide, to the Best Supporting Actress contenders. And as with their male counterparts, it's a mostly established bunch of names.

However, while the men are all previous Oscar winners, there's a little more of a mix with the ladies: from two-time winner Sally Field, to one-time winner Helen Hunt, to 3-time nominee Amy Adams, to Jacki Weaver and Anne Hathaway, each with one previous nomination, but no wins. It's perhaps the most pre-determined of all the Oscar categories, but that's not why we're here. Below, you'll find our picks for the best performances (or ok, maybe relatively interesting ones for some of them) of all five actresses' early careers. Let us know your own favorites in the comments below.

Anne Hathaway - “Havoc”
Directed by two-time Academy Award winner and cinéma vérité documentarian Barbara Kopple (“Harlan County, USA,” “American Dream”), “Havoc” was the filmmaker’s first non-documentary feature film and it went to straight to DVD in 2005. Yes, it’s not great by any stretch of the imagination, centering on a pair of naïve, underage teenage girls (Anne Hathaway and Bijou Phillips) who are exposed to hip-hop culture in Los Angeles and then aspire to be badass and imitate this lifestyle. They encounter gang bangers and get in way over their heads, quickly learning they are not as street tough as they thought, and face some dire consequences. And while the movie is otherwise forgettable, Hathaway shows the spark of her daring, go-for-emotional-broke acting that she would take on in bigger and better movies down the line, making her one of the most sought after actresses working today. Hathaway also isn’t afraid to bare it all like she does in “Havoc,” and while it’s probably just a screencap favorite for the Mr. Skins of the world, it did show she was willing to go to dark and raw places. Now if only she had a stronger director to back her up. Kopple doesn’t necessarily leave her dangling, but the movie just never clicks in a meaningful way, mostly because it’s too obsessed with coming across as a cautionary tale. Still, the Hathaway glimmer is there.

Helen Hunt - "As Good As It Gets"
Interestingly, before 1997-ish, Helen Hunt was not that common a presence on screen. There were small roles -- "Peggy Sue Got Married," "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," "Project X," "Bob Roberts" -- but nothing that really penetrated the general consciousness until "Kiss Of Death" in 1995, and the blockbuster "Twister" in 1996. By this time, she'd already made her name on TV, thanks to "Mad About You" with Paul Reiser. So as such, the best pick for this feature seemed to be the film that she won an Oscar for, James L Brooks' "As Good As It Gets." The film's Oscar success -- a Best Picture nomination, the most recent film to win Best Actor and Best Actress together -- has led many to label it as overrated, but the fifteen year gap has let it settle into place as a modest, smart and touching, if unexceptional, romantic comedy. Hunt plays Carol, a single mother who waits the table of misanthropic novelist Melvin (Jack Nicholson), and is one of the few people who can put up with his behavior. The two become drawn closer together after Melvin's gay neighbor (Greg Kinnear) is savagely beaten, and she's eventually able to soften him up. Brooks was (at least until the "Spanglish" era), one of the better writers of women in dramedy out there, and Carol is never a simple fantasy figure or redemptive saint, especially in Hunt's hands; there's a toughness to her that makes her feel like the heroine of a fast-talking 1940s comedy, a Rosalind Russell type. With this role, Hunt definitely demonstrated that she was more than just a sitcom star.

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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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