2019 Calvin Awards: Best Supporting Actress

By David Mumpower

February 23, 2019

We *might* like Emma Stone.

Last year, I described Best Supporting Actress as the most competitive category at The Calvins. This year, five actresses were all in play for the victory with a single ballot to go. Three of them failed to get support at the end, which allowed the top two to separate themselves slightly. It’s another thrilling campaign for Best Supporting Actress.

We first lauded Emma Stone for her work in Easy A all the way back in 2011. That was one-third of her life ago, and not much has changed. Our staff still falls over itself trying to lavish praise upon her. Just two years ago, she finished second in Best Actress for her work in La La Land. Now, she’s outdone herself by winning the category of Best Supporting Actress.

In The Favourite, Stone portrays Abigail Hill, an impoverished woman literally given away by her father in a card game. She implores her more successful cousin to get her a job at the palace as a maid. An opportunist by nature, Hill quickly deduces that the way to the Queen's heart is through her legs. Don't make it dirty. The maid concocts an herbal salve that reduces the Queen's suffering.

Then, Abigail realizes that an even better way to the Queen’s heart is through her girl parts. Okay, make it dirty. Hill embarks on an affair that wrests the title of The Favourite away from her cousin. Stone is sublime as a ruthless, ungrateful, calculating weathercock who will say or do anything to attain power. She’s come a long way since Easy A.

Letitia Wright is twice a bridesmaid this year. She narrowly lost in the category of Best Breakthrough Performance, and now she does the same in Best Supporting Actress. With just a bit more support, the relative unknown could have been a two-time Calvins winner this year. Instead, the co-star of Black Panther must settle for stealing our hearts as the effervescent Shuri in Black Panther. Wright's ebullience meshes perfectly with the standoffish nature of her character's big brother, and she seems poised for superstardom as an anchor player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I watch a lot of international films as part of my job as a film critic. Even acknowledging that, I cannot honestly say that I knew who Marina de Tavira was before last year. Really, I didn't even know her before November. She's worked consistently in Mexican cinema (and theater) for 15 years now, but none of her roles have garnered a lot of attention north of the border.


Everything changed with the release of Roma. In that film, de Tavira masterfully portrays a frustrated wife and mother. Her husband is never home, and on the rare occasions that he is, the two of them fight. Her children are omnipresent, preventing her from ever having a moment to herself. Despite her constant irritation, she has one reliable person in her life, a maid named Cleo.

The two women run the household together. They bond in a rare and profound way as competent, kind ladies who accept that men are doomed to disappoint them. De Tavira is so remarkable in this role that the one time that her character fights with Cleo, I felt genuinely upset. I cared about them that much as a family.

The other two candidates up for Best Supporting Actress until the very end are Michelle Yeoh and Rachel Weisz. Longtime BOP readers know how much we’ve treasured Yeoh’s work over the years. With Crazy Rich Asians, she finally finds a project worthy of her stature as the grand dame of Asian cinema. Rachel Weisz is the yin to Emma Stone’s yang in The Favourite. She’s the considerate advisor to the Queen who leads out of a sense of duty. You know enough about politics to guess how that works out for her. Between this film and Disobedience, Weisz had a spectacular year.

Speaking of Disobedience, Rachel McAdams is one of our next selections. She finished in seventh place for her portrayal of Esti, a closeted lesbian trapped in a loving but sexless marriage with her childhood friend, Dovid. In its own way, Disobedience is the best LGBTQ film in recent memory, and McAdams is critical to that aspect. We slightly preferred the work of Regina King, though. After slumming on The Big Bang Theory for a while, King’s career surged with her standout performance in If Beale Street Could Talk. Hers is a firmly grounded demonstration of what matriarchy looks like when done right.

Widows, Black Panthers, and Crazy Rich Asians complete our Best Supporting Actress list this year. Elizabeth Debicki impressed us in The Great Gatsby and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., but it wasn’t until she played a widowed sugar baby that we appreciated her full range as an actress. Like Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira received double nominations for her work as a stalwart protector of the crown in Black Panther. And Awkafina won our hearts the moment that she posed for a selfie on the stairs in Crazy Rich Asians.

As mentioned, Best Supporting Actress was brutal this year. There were SEVERAL roles we wanted to highlight, but they didn’t quite make the cut. Other performers that we loved this year are Laura Harrier in BlacKkKlansman, Verónica García in Roma, Claire Foy in First Man, Amy Adams in Vice, Cynthia Erivo in Bad Times at the El Royale, Zazie Beetz in Deadpool 2, Gemma Chan in Crazy Rich Asians, and Tessa Thompson in Sorry to Bother You.

2019 Calvin Awards
Calvins Intro
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Cast
Best Character
Best Director
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Performance
Worst Picture

Top 10
Position Actress Film Total Points
1 Emma Stone The Favourite 43
2 Letitia Wright Black Panther 39
3 Marina de Tavira Roma 34
4 Michelle Yeoh Crazy Rich Asians 32
5 Rachel Weisz The Favourite 31
6 Regina King If Beale Street Could Talk 25
7 Rachel McAdams Disobedience 24
8 Elizabeth Debicki Widows 22
9 Danai Gurira Black Panther 21
10 Awkwafina Crazy Rich Asians 20



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