2018 Calvin Awards: Best Supporting Actress
By David Mumpower
March 1, 2018
In my estimation, the category of Best Supporting Actress was the most competitive out of all Calvins this year. While others had tighter votes at the top of the ballot, Best Supporting Actress was brutal from start to finish. Our staff easily settled on two roles as the best of them, and we had a second tier for third through sixth place. From there, the battle for nomination was fairly brutal, with nine actresses battling for four spots. After literally decades of Hollywood failing to provide enough strong roles for women, 2017 was quite possibly the best ever. It’s top three for sure.
One of the hard rules in The Calvins is that anyone who can act while holding a bird on their shoulder deserves to win. The fact that BOP loves C.J. Cregg is a serendipitous bonus here. Yes, Allison Janney is our choice for Best Supporting Actress due to her savagely honest portrayal of LaVona Fay Golden in I, Tonya.
The movie is a satirical take on one of the most infamous events in Olympic history. A figure skater paid a pair of thugs to injure an opponent, thereby providing her with an easier path to the Olympics. Janney’s purpose in the film is to provide a bit of sympathy or, at the very least, understanding for how Harding became so broken.
Let’s just say that no matter how you feel about your parent(s), you’ll want to hug them in gratitude after watching a few minutes of Golden offering “encouragement” to her daughter. Janney delivers comic relief at times, also, but what lingers in our staff’s memory is the batshit crazy. If even 50% of this role is based in truth – and that’s not a given – Harding’s upbringing doubled as a de facto sequel to Mommie Dearest.
Janney is ordinarily an endearing but ferocious woman. In this film, she leverages that perception into a masterful defiance of expectations. Domineering isn’t a strong enough term for this, and our staff greatly admires the willingness of one of our favorite actress to act crazier than a Bond villain. It’s unquestionably the best Supporting Actress performance of the year.
Proven television actresses claim the top two spots in our vote this year. I’m a devout believer that the best thespians in the world have a high level of comedic training, and Laurie Metcalf made her bones on Roseanne in the 1980s. Since then, she’s bounced between high profile roles on popular sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory and memorable parts in movies like Scream 2.
In Lady Bird, Metcalf combines many of the traits demonstrated in those roles. She provides the equilibrium that her maturing daughter needs but doesn’t appreciate. Metcalf’s character challenges the titular lead, spelling out the many ways that the teenager could do better, which isn’t something that teenagers want to here.
By the end of the film, Metcalf’s strength becomes something that her daughter appreciates more from a distance. It’s one of the finest mother/daughter relationships in recent cinema, making it the perfect complementary piece to I, Tonya. Metcalf’s legitimately great in everything, but Lady Bird is her masterwork.
A huge gap exists in the voting totals from second to third place. Fifty points is the equivalent of about 10 ballots’ worth of votes, give or take a bit. Keeping that in mind, Lesley Manville finishes in a distant third place in Best Supporting Actress for her work in Phantom Thread. Please don’t read this as a slight on her. To the contrary, our staff adored her measured portrayal of Cyril Woodcock, sister and confidant to the film’s main character.
When her brother, Reynolds, gets too snippy, it’s up to Cyril to smack him down, although she usually does it with subtle manipulation rather than overt aggression. Cyril is the central observer to the odd relationship between Cyril and his new girlfriend, Alma, and the sister’s decisions influence the outcome of the nascent coupling. When Cyril finally states her opinion of Alma, it’s director Paul Thomas Anderson’s way of informing the viewing audience how they should feel. As such, hers is the critical ancillary role in the film.
Our other two choices in the top five have similar surnames but no other commonality. The fourth selection in Best Supporting Actress is Catherine Keener in Get Out. Everyone fears that first encounter with the mother of your significant other. Well, with Keener’s character, the outcome is about the worst one imaginable, and she has a glorious time tormenting the young man who would dare to her daughter.
The fifth choice is Dafne Keen, the young girl who stars as comic book heroine, X-23, in Logan. We adored her wide-eyed stares as she took in as much information as she could from the man whose DNA produced her. From the first trailer, our writers could tell that she was living embodiment of the fictional character. To our (pleasant) surprise, she still exceeded those expectations with an earnest but predatory interpretation of the character.
Actresses from a pair of unconventional romances hold down the next two spots. BOP’s love of Octavia Spencer stopped being a secret years ago, and we especially adore her as a loyal friend in The Shape of Water. We just wish her character had married a braver man. Holly Hunter has a different problem in The Big Sick. Her character’s husband makes a critical mistake in their relationship, and she spends the entire film acting passive-aggressive while she decides whether to dump his cheating ass. It’s the usual brand of spitfire role we’ve come to expect from her.
Three comically different roles complete our list this year. We relished Tiffany Haddish for her lack of filter in Girls Trip. We fell in love with Bella Heathcote in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. And Ana de Armas challenged our opinions about artificial intelligence in Blade Runner 2049. As BOP’s Tony Kollath would say, “In some ways, these are very different films.” All three performances are phenomenal, though.
Five other actresses were a kind ballot away from selection in Best Supporting Actress this year. Those performance were Mary J. Blige in Mudbound, Rebecca Hall for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, Carrie Fisher for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Tessa Thompson for Thor: Ragnarok, and Cara Delevingne for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
2018 Calvin Awards
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
|| Allison Janney
|| Laurie Metcalf
|| Lesley Manville
|| Catherine Keener
|| Dafne Keen
|| Octavia Spencer
||The Shape of Water
|| Holly Hunter
||Big Sick, The
|| Tiffany Haddish
|| Bella Heathcote
||Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
|| Ana de Armas
||Blade Runner 2049