Following James Coburn's triumph in Best Supporting Actor, Gwyneth Paltrow named her Shakespeare in Love cohorts the winners for Best Art Direction, while fellow Elizabethan drama Elizabeth walked away with Best Makeup. "Election Night (Valgaften)" and "Bunny" were named Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short, respectively. And now comes Robin Williams to present Best Supporting Actress.
Did the right one win? My thoughts:
Kathy Bates as Libby Holden
past winner, second of four nominations; SAG Awards winner for Best Supporting Actress; BAFTA Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress, Golden Globe nominee for Best Supporting Actress, LAFCA Awards runner-up for Best Supporting Actress
Libby is an old friend of presidential hopeful Jack Stanton and his wife Susan, all the way back to college days, a part of their careers from the beginning - now they need help, and she's here to provide it, fresh outta the clinic following a nervous breakdown. Bates makes you believe every moment: her unpredictability bordering on the already-mentioned instability (threatening an opponent with a gun???), her idealism in spite of her being well aware of how dirty politics can be, the ways she comes up short, the final disappointment after a lifetime of them... When it comes time for righteous fury, it's not preaching, it's keening over what's been lost. Incredible.
Brenda Blethyn as Mari Hoff
second of two nominations; BAFTA Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress, Golden Globe nominee for Best Supporting Actress, SAG Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress
Hard-partying, resentful mum to the titular LV (Little Voice), desperately chasing the days of her youth. All accent and clothes-arranging and hair-fluffing. Leans into the woman's obnoxiousness and sees no reason to make her approachable. Good drag!
Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth I
Shakespeare in Love
second of eight nominations; BAFTA Award winner for Best Supporting Actress; Golden Globe nominee for Best Supporting Actress, NYFCC Awards runner-up for Best Supporting Actress, SAG Awards nominee for Best Supporting Actress
Three scenes, two speeches, a chuckle, and a nap. Dench's Elizabeth is cut from the cloth of Shakespeare's own royal characters - like Escalus, say, or Theseus, nobles who flit in and out of the central narrative and, finally, make a vital declaration and sum up. Dench is a treasure. Though old and small, she fixes those around her with a gaze that makes the tallest man shrink. When she laughs with her full chest, it's infectious because it is so unexpected. The coy, conspiratorial smile she gives when she finally meets "Thomas Kent." And then that line reading, "I know something of a woman in a man's profession. Yes, by God, I do know about that." She's terrific! She's unforgettable!
Rachel Griffiths as Hilary du Pré
Hilary and Jackie
first and only nomination
She's the more reticent of the two Du Pré sisters - Jackie plays the cello, Hilary plays the flute - and if Hilary appears more overshadowed by Jackie, Griffiths (and the screenplay) make crystal clear that Hilary made a choice. Jackie wants it more, she's less inclined to be happy, whereas Hilary can be content teaching and living in the countryside with her family. Does Griffiths succeed in selling us on the idea of sharing her husband with her sister? I think she does a good job of showing us the reluctance and the hurt, finally steamrolled by the bigger personality. Finally, is she truly supporting? Honestly, I think so, despite the title. Her "half" is not nearly as long as Jackie's and, even then, so much of her identity is wrapped in her sister.
Lynn Redgrave as Hanna
Gods and Monsters
second and final nomination; Golden Globe winner for Best Supporting Actress; BAFTA Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress, SAG Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress
Redgrave is the loyal Polish housekeeper, a religious woman who loves her employer, director James Whale, despite his sinful lifestyle. The accent, the frown, the general frump of it all: Redgrave is doing a character. Her little bickers with Ian McKellen's Whale are more than enough to establish a long and affectionate relationship, whatever their disagreements. I don't think there's much more here, even if she's solid.
As eyebrow-raising as it is, as close as it is, I have to follow my heart, and I award my vote to:
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Tomorrow, we look at two categories. We start with Best Original Musical Or Comedy Score: A Bug's Life, Mulan, Patch Adams, The Prince of Egypt, and Shakespeare in Love. We then go to Best Drama Score: Elizabeth, Life is Beautiful, Pleasantville, Saving Private Ryan, and The Thin Red Line. We get into why they're separated, listen to highlights from each score, and finally, decide who should have won.