2009 Calvin Awards: Best Supporting Actress

February 12, 2009

I wonder what my son is doing right now in that dark basement with that clergyman?

Our Best Supporting Actress winner took the category in a blowout this year. Considering that this is typically a more difficult category in which to find a wealth of candidates, it's impressive that the ten women on this list all had such fantastic roles in 2008.

Viola Davis is our landslide winner of the Calvin for Best Supporting Actress. Considering that she appears onscreen in Doubt for approximately five minutes, this is a pretty amazing achievement. Davis had the small but critical role of a mother who learns that her son might have been abused by a priest. Her reaction to this news is shocking, and it is this key scene that propels the action in the remainder of the film. Considering the talent working alongside Davis in Doubt - including Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams - it is all the more extraordinary that she is the performer from this film who was singled out as a winner in an acting category. This is a performance that people will remember, and will open some doors for the actress to take on some key roles in future serious films.

Our runner-up award goes to an actress who has taken some unfair ribbing in the years since she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Many people have joked that Jack Palance read Marisa Tomei's name out as a lark back when she received the Academy Award for My Cousin Vinny, but the truth of the matter is that the actress has proven her abilities many times over the past several years. She gave a fine performance alongside Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek in the indie film In the Bedroom, and has received mention for other roles in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Factotum. This year, she was noteworthy for her supporting work in The Wrestler, where she played a stripper who is friendly-but-not-too-friendly with Mickey Rourke's Randy "The Ram". She's a sympathetic character who provides Randy with some reasons to continue surviving, and we understand her conflict completely.

Amy Adams, the other supporting performer from Doubt alongside Viola Davis, finishes in third place. Adams has really burst onto the scene since receiving her first Academy Award nomination for Junebug in 2005. Since that time, she has had memorable performances in Talladega Nights and Charlie Wilson's War, and had a truly lovely turn as Giselle in Enchanted. 2008 saw her do a period piece in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, but it was in Doubt where she really stood out as a meek, naïve young nun. She was entirely believable as a young woman who expresses concern about a situation she witnesses, but comes to have concerns about the real truth of the matter as more shades of grey enter the picture.

Fourth place belongs to Penelope Cruz for her performance in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Like Viola Davis, Cruz spends a relatively small amount of time onscreen (though she's at least there for more than five minutes). Still, she makes the very most of the time she does have in the film. Playing the ex-wife of loverboy Javier Bardem, she's a spitfire with a lot of craziness in her. Even so, the viewer is drawn to her and understands why both Cristina and Juan Antonio have such conflicted feelings about her.


Slumdog Millionaire is notable for a lot of new names who surprised us with their talent, and Freida Pinto is no exception. Pinto was not in a large portion of the film, as her character was played by a couple of children in addition to her as she took on the role of adult Latika, true love of protagonist Jamal. Pinto was effervescent in the role, shimmering with excitement during the film's climactic scene. It's wonderful to see such a fresh face and we're confident her future is wide open.

Iron Man's Gwyneth Paltrow takes our sixth place spot, primarily for being completely winning and charming in a role that has her playing a significant backseat to Robert Downey Jr. As Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's extremely efficient (and lovely) assistant, we can see the man's redeeming qualities through her eyes, which is important when we consider that Stark is a womanizing, partying, world destroyer at the beginning of the film. Seventh goes to Rosemarie DeWitt and her noteworthy performance in Rachel Getting Married. Sure, Anne Hathaway is the star of the film, but DeWitt plays Rachel, after all. As the sister of Hathaway's Kym, the two make their relationship entirely believable. When Kym arrives home from rehab, they truly love each other, but the little kinks in their friendship/sisterhood show through in very subtle ways.

We close out our top ten with Taraji P. Henson, who places eighth for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Burn After Reading's Tilda Swinton, and Clémence Poésy for In Bruges. Henson has drawn our attention previously for her work in Hustle & Flow, and she heightens her profile here as she portrays Benjamin Button's adoptive mother. Frankly, she's the best thing about the film. Swinton, who sets the action in motion in Burn After Reading, is memorable as always. And Poésy is probably a name to watch, as she's pitch perfect in a small role as In Bruge's lovely drug dealer. Her role in the Harry Potter films should expand with the final couple of chapters, and she's got the talent to take on some more challenging roles as well. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Best Cast
Best Director
Best DVD
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Best Videogame
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Performance
Worst Picture

Top 10
Position Actress Film Total Points
1 Viola Davis Doubt 82
2 Marisa Tomei The Wrestler 59
3 Amy Adams Doubt 52
4 Penelope Cruz Vicky Cristina Barcelona 43
5(tie) Freida Pinto Slumdog Millionaire 41
5(tie) Gwyneth Paltrow Iron Man 41
5(tie) Rosemarie DeWitt Rachel Getting Married 41
8 Taraji P. Henson The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 39
9 Tilda Swinton Burn After Reading 30
10 Clemence Poesy In Bruges 28



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