2020 Calvin Awards: Best Supporting Actress
By Kim Hollis
February 13, 2020
As David Mumpower discusses in our Best Actress article, roles for women have thankfully evolved over the last several years. We've made a lot of progress, but there's still a long, long way to go, especially if you consider that gender identity doesn't work with some of the labels the industry is used to recognizing.
Our winner turned heads both for her performance in Hustlers and the one she gave during the Super Bowl. Jennifer Lopez has shown flashes of brilliance throughout her acting career, with roles in Out of Sight and The Cell standing out in particular. In 2019, she portrayed veteran stripper Ramona Vega, a woman with a head for schemes and the charisma to pull them off. What's perhaps most exciting about Hustlers is that it's a film headlined by women, written and directed by a woman. Despite the fact that Lopez is in a supporting role (Constance Wu is the lead), she provides the film's beating heart.
If the supporting actresses from Parasite hadn't split votes, Park So-dam might have pulled off the win in this category. Since three out of our ten nominees were from Parasite, the struggle was real. Park played the daughter of the Kim family in the film, the young woman who is helping her brother, father, and mother to scam the Park family, for whom they all work (albeit with phony qualifications).
She's hilarious and wry, easily the brains of the operation although each member of her family is skilled in different ways.
Third place goes to Florence Pugh, who played the feisty March sister Amy in Little Women. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Pugh's huge year, as she was also noteworthy in the horror film Midsommar and the charming Fighting With My Family. In Little Women, she does something truly admirable - she makes Amy likable. In the book, Amy is a bit of a petulant brat, and it's only near the end of the story that she "grows up." In Greta Gerwig's film, Pugh transforms the character into someone relatable and fascinating. We understand Amy's motivations thanks to the decisions she makes.
Next up is our second of three women from Parasite, Yeo-jeong Jo. She portrays the mother of the Park family, a woman so naive in the ways of the world that the Kims are easily able to take advantage of her. Her wide eyes and incredulous expressions connect us to this gullible character even as we hate her a little bit for her taking her life of luxury for granted.
We round out the top five with Laura Dern's tell-it-like-it-is attorney from Marriage Story (though I'll be honest that I preferred her performance in Little Women). Sure, Nora Fanshaw is blunt and perhaps abrasive, but you know she gets results. Dern does a great job of slipping in and out of the facade she has to present when she's representing the best interests of her client.
Next up in sixth is the delightful Zhao Shuzhen, Nai Nai from The Farewell. As Billi's grandmother, a woman who has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer (but doesn't know it), she is a formidable presence. Even as she's commanding family members who have ostensibly gathered for a family wedding, Nai Nai also reminds us of the fragility of life.
Lee Jeong-eun takes seventh place for her portrayal of the "original" housekeeper in Parasite. To reveal much about this character would spoil the film, so you'll just have to trust us that she's fantastic. Then we have Jamie Lee Curtis in Knives Out, playing Linda Drysdale, daughter of the family patriarch who winds up dead. She's kind of the best of a bad bunch, but still an entitled xenophobe.
Finally in ninth and tenth we have Scarlett Johansson in Jojo Rabbit and Shahadi Wright Joseph in Us. Johansson plays Jojo's mother, a woman whose morality rises above societal whims, both to her son's and her own detriment. And Joseph shines as the teenage daughter of a terrorized family in Us - and her "evil" counterpart.
Some performances that just missed the top ten include Zazie Beetz in Joker, Laura Dern (for Little Women this time), Penelope Cruz in Pain & Glory, Zendaya in Spider-Man: Far from Home, and Scarlett Johansson (yet again) for her performance as Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame.
2020 Calvin Awards
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
|| Jennifer Lopez
|| Park So Dam
|| Florence Pugh
|| Yeo-jeong Jo
|| Laura Dern
|| Zhao Shuzhen
|| Lee Jeong-eun
|| Jamie Lee Curtis
|| Scarlett Johansson
|| Shahadi Wright Joseph