Friday, February 27, 2009

Supporting Actress Oscar Survey: The Best Runner-Ups

These are the ladies who managed to garner the attention of some voters while never quite cracking the top 10. (Or eleven in this case!)

12. Ruth Gordon – Rosemary’s Baby (9 points)

A wry performance that's so disarming you can see how Mia Farrow would be suckered in and surprised to learn Gordon's working for Satan. – Edward Copeland

Gordon was always a great actress and screenwriter, but few people know that. She remains known worldwide as the evil-lover-annoying-old-lady-next-door in Rosemary's Baby and it's not by chance. Gordon steals the scene every time she appears and no matter how many times I revisit this film, she always scares the hell out of me. – Celso Oliveira.

13. Anjelica Huston – Prizzi’s Honour (8 points)

It's very hard to steal a movie from Jack Nicholson, but she does in this. – David Gaffen.

John Huston directed his dad to an Oscar win and his daughter to one as well in the performance that was the equivalent of Anjelica's coming out party as one of our best actresses. Maerose Prizzi is manipulative, vindictive and a performance for the ages. – Edward Copeland

13. Rachel Weisz – The Constant Gardener (8 points)

She puts the audience exactly where the Ralph Fiennes character finds himself: you’re in love with her, yet not sure you know her. Her every gesture seems packed with meaning, yet you never catch her pushing. She and the cinematographer practically dance together, a perfect film performance. – John Henry Roberts.

15. Claire Trover – Key Largo (7 points)

Trevor’s a film noir icon. Not even her best, still great. – John Henry Roberts.

15. Jo Van Fleet – East of Eden (7 points)

She completely walked in the shoes of what has to be a very hard character to play – Mike Savidge

15. Diane Wiest – Bullets Over Broadway (7 points)

Seeing the always solid Wiest bust her patrician shell to play a drama queen (in both senses) is great fun. Hits the peak of hilarity without going over the top. – John Henry Roberts.

15. Catherine Zeta-Jones - Chicago (7 points)

19. Meryl Streep – Kramer vs. Kramer (6 points)

A great performance from Streep and showed the world what was to come. – Svanur Petursson

It's so easy to love Meryl Streep, but somehow she makes us hate her. – Matt Kilgore.

19. Maggie Smith – California Suite (6 points)

A great Oscar-winning performance for playing a boozy Oscar loser opposite an equally good Michael Caine. – Edward Copeland.

21. Celeste Holm – The Gentleman’s Agreement (5 points)

It's easy to look at this dated film and find the central plot -- Gregory Peck's quest to expose anti-Semitism by going undercover as a Jew -- as a bit goofy. What is unfathomable is how 1940s audiences, having lived through a period populated by intoxicating female roles (much of it in the film noir genre) could have possibly not been bewildered by the ending, when Peck's character chooses the lummox played by Dorothy Maguire over the sassy, radiant colleague of his played by Celeste Holm. She owns this movie. – David Gaffen.

21. Cloris Leachman – The Last Picture Show (5 points)

What a great, sad performance, and she was never better. It's a classic, so well-deserved. – David Gaffen.

21. Peggy Ashcroft – A Passage to India (5 points)

21. Mira Sorvino – Mighty Aphrodite (5 points)

21. Kim Basinger – L.A Confidential (5 points)

21. Juliette Binoche – The English Patient (5 points)

Her often unpredictable character lights up this slow burn of a film every time she is on the screen. – Matt Kilgore

This was such a happy surprise at the time. Everyone expected the showy Lauren Bacall to win, but Binoche's performance was understated and in more ways than one kept the film together. – Svanur Petursson

27. Brenda Fricker – My Left Foot (4 points)

Daniel Day-Lewis did amazing work with an extremely difficult role, but was nearly matched by her, the kind of woman every son would want for a mother. – David Gaffen.

27. Linda Hunt – The Year of Living Dangerously (4 points)

I wouldn't go so far as to say that I forgot Hunt was a female playing a man throughout the film, but either way, it was a great performance from an underused actress. – Svanur Petursson

Regardless of the sex of the character she plays, she ultimately portrays a living, breathing, vibrant human being. – Robbie Kendall.

27. Shelley Winters – The Diary of Anne Frank (4 points)

When I first saw this film I could not stop thinking about it for days, she stands out in an incredible ensemble – Mike Savidge

27. Fay Bainter – Jezebel (4 points)

27. Eva Marie Saint – On The Waterfront (4 points)

She may just be feeding off Brando and Kazan, but Saint’s stuck playing the beauty who makes a sinner want to do better, and manages to come off like an actual person instead of a, uh, saint. Her light touch makes it a much better film than it might have been. – John Henry Robert.

It's really a pity that Saint didn't have so many great roles in movies. She is a wonderful actress and her start on this classic is the proof of it. She is not afraid of sharing the screen with famous actors like Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb and Karl Malden. Her acting is as superb as her co-stars and well, she has an Oscar to show it! – Celso Oliveira.

32. Gloria Grahame – The Bad and The Beautiful (3 points)

Actors rarely win Oscars for their best work, but the unbearably sharp, sexy Grahame made lots of great movies, and this was one of them. – Jeffrey M. Anderson

32. Whoopi Goldberg – Ghost (3 points)

I can forgive any missteps in Whoopi’s career just for the scene wherein Oda Mae makes it clear she really doesn’t want to give away that money. She’s hilarious all-around, too. – Shawn.

32. Goldie Hawn – Cactus Flower (3 points)

Holding her own with Bergman & Matthau in a forgotten gem of a movie – Mike Savidge.

Additional proof that work in a comedy can be as Oscar-worthy as any other kind of acting. The film’s not great, but Hawn is on-the-mark in sensational fashion. – Shawn.

35. Shelley Winters – A Patch of Blue (2 points)

I want to slap her whenever I think of the film – Mike Savidge.

35. Beatrice Straight – Network (2 points)

A true supporting role, she takes 8 minutes on screen and nearly runs away with it, a marvel considering the wonderful ensemble cast of the film. – Tripp Burton

35. Mercedes Ruehl – The Fisher King (2 points)

35. Marisa Tomei – My Cousin Vinny (2 points)

Of course, everyone thinks this was some kind error, but Tomei went on to prove that she's the #1 supporting actress of the past 20 years with many other great performances, both comic and tragic. – Jeffrey M. Anderson

35. Anna Paquin – The Piano (2 points)

35. Judi Dench – Shakespeare in Love (2 points)

She brings something regal, refined and darkly witty to everything she does. - Matt Kilgore.


Mercedes McCambridge – All The King’s Men

Mary Steenburgen – Melvin and Howard

What ever happened to Steenburgen? She has so much life in this film, and has turned in nothing like this since. – Tripp Burton

Maureen Stapleton – Reds

Among many great performances in this film, Stapleton stood out. A well deserved win for a great actress. – Svanur Petursson

Jessica Lange – Tootsie

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment either way!


  1. Oh, it's really surprising that Gordon, Saint and even Leachman didn't make the final cut! Are the results coming soon? I'm excited do know the TOP11!

  2. Looking at the Worst lists, it's funny how many people made both, particularly Rachel Weisz, who scored quite highly as a Best runner-up and very highly as a top 10 Worst.

    Acting is subjective... enough people voted for Marisa Tomei to win her oscar, nothing we can do about it now.

  3. It's too bad you didn't have a picture of Mercedes McCambridge, but perhaps that's fitting since Orson Welles called her the "greatest living actress in Radio."