2010 Calvin Awards: Best Supporting Actress

February 11, 2010

That's right. I got paid to make out with Clooney.

Best Supporting Actress always seems to be a wildly diverse category, with plenty of unique, surprising choices from movies both large and small. This year, three movies take up seven spots of our top ten, leaving very little room for outliers. The most satisfying thing about the way this category played out is the fact that none of the people listed in the top ten is a big name (unless you count music). This year, our attention turned to some people who have received only fleeting recognition in the past.

With regards to voting, the top three couldn't have been much closer. Winning by a couple of hairs is Vera Farmiga for her performance in Up in the Air. She plays Alex, a fellow traveler and occasional lover of main character Ryan Bingham (George Clooney). The character is instantly likable as she is whip smart, witty, and feels like someone who might be a co-worker or next-door neighbor. It's easy to connect with Alex, even though some of her actions are less than appealing. It's to Farmiga's credit that the audience is so invested in this character, particularly as it's really Ryan's story, after all.

Our runner-up in the category is the woman most likely to win the Oscar. Mo'Nique, previously seen in such instant classics as Phat Girlz, Irish Jam, Shadowboxer (where she played a character named Precious), Hair Show and Soul Plane, showed us that she could get serious in the well-regarded Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire. She portrays Mary, the mother of the title character and the villain of the film. Mo'Nique gives it her all here, as Mary is cruel, vicious and self-centered – a character that absolutely anyone who sees the film is going to hate even as they marvel in the actress's abilities.

Just a point behind Mo'Nique is Anna Kendrick, who joins Vera Farmiga in the dominant force known as the Up in the Air Contingent. Although it's possible that her appearance in New Moon should cancel this one out, Kendrick was a revelation in Up in the Air, more than holding her own with the more seasoned Clooney and Farmiga. Everyone has worked with a young hotshot like her Natalie, and it's touching when the character shows her vulnerable side when things begin to go downhill. Really, it's Natalie that makes Ryan begin to question his lack of connection with other human beings, so it was important to find someone who could both play alongside Clooney. She's memorable in her own right, though.

Fourth and fifth go to the lovely ladies of Inglourious Basterds, Melanie Laurent and Diane Kruger. Laurent portrays Shosanna, the lone survivor of a Jewish family slaughtered by Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Through a series of happenstances, she is able to concoct an elaborate plan of revenge, and we are able to see her run through a variety of emotions – anger, fear, determination, and more. Shosanna has gone over to the bad place, but she's utterly alluring and fascinating while she does so. Kruger has a slightly smaller role, but she's just as critical to the action of the film. As actress/spy Bridget von Hammersmark, she has to walk a delicate line wherein she ingratiates herself to the Basterds but also has to keep above the suspicion of various Nazi officers. Both women are a key reason the movie succeeds as much as it does.


If you're looking for supporting actress who aren't in Up in the Air, Inglourious Basterds, or Precious, sixth and seventh place will make you happy. Evanna Lynch of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince finishes sixth, as people started taking notice of how terrific she is in the role of Luna Lovegood. The hippy-dippy character is a lot of fun in both Half-Blood Prince and the film that came before it, Order of the Phoenix, with a worldly wisdom that seems odd coming from one so young and eccentric. She's the hidden gem of the series. Seventh goes to Samantha Morton, a long-time indie fave, for her performance in The Messenger, where she portrays a widow who becomes involved with one of the men who informed her of her husband's death in Iraq. In a small role, she subtly convinces the audience of her grief and heartache. She's always impressive, and this role is no exception.

We round out the top ten with Mariah Carey, Rachel McAdams and Paula Patton. Carey and Patton both appear in Precious, while McAdams is in the taut thriller State of Play. Carey's come a long way from Glitter, with many lauding her performance as a social worker who happens to be a touch playful. There had been some speculation that she might receive an Academy Award nomination for this role, but alas, her past cinema crimes have been too much to overlook. McAdams is one of our favorite actresses in the business, and she's smart and engaging as an up-and-coming reporter in State of Play. Thankfully, the screenwriter didn't see it necessary to insert a big romance between her character and Russell Crowe's. It's also nice to give some plaudits to Paula Patton, who we really liked in the better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be Idlewild in 2006. In Precious, she plays a kind teacher who provides positive influence in Precious's life.

Just missing the cut were Emily Blunt for her goth-girl role in Sunshine Cleaning, Jaime Pressly in I Love You, Man (we so miss My Name Is Earl), Abigail Breslin (a former winner in this category) for Zombieland, and the effervescent Marion Cotillard in Nine. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

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

Top 10
Position Actress Film Total Points
1 Vera Farmiga Up in the Air 105
2 Mo’Nique Precious 99
3 Anna Kendrick Up in the Air 98
4 Melanie Laurent Inglourious Basterds 74
5 Diane Kruger Inglourious Basterds 66
6 Evanna Lynch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 33
7 Samantha Morton The Messenger 28
8 Mariah Carey Precious 27
9 Rachel McAdams State of Play 25
10 Paula Patton Precious 24



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