Thursday, April 1, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks #351: Oscar Edition: Best Supporting Actor/Actress

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of Thursday Movie Picks, the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. Several months this year have Oscar-themed editions on the first Thursday of the month, so this time around the theme is Best Supporting Actor or Actress winners. That's not overly difficult; I just had to think about whether or not I had used any particular movies that fit the category recently. I decided to go with three movies that have more or less all-star casts:

The V.I.P.s (1963). Winner: Margaret Rutherford. A whole bunch of people are at Heathrow Airport trying to get on a plane to the US, but unfortunately the airport is socked in. Liz Taylor is divorcing hubby Richard Burton to live with Louis Jourdan; Rod Taylor has an important board meeting in New York; Orson Welles needs to get out of the UK for tax residence reasons; and Margaret Rutherford is trying to make money to save her family estate. The various travelers might be able to help each other solve their problems, or maybe not.

California Suite (1978). Winner: Maggie Smith. I would have done the movies in chronological order, except that Maggie Smith is in two of the movies I picked. Based on a Neil Simon play, this one tells the stories of four suites at the Beverly Hills Hilton and the people who rent them. The only good story line is the one involving Maggie Smith as an Oscar nominee who bickers with her husband (Michael Caine). The worst thing is that the movie isn't mounted as a traditional anthology with discrete stories where one ends and the next begins, nor an ensemble picture like The V.I.P.s where the characters interact. Instead, none of the people in the different rooms interact, but the movie goes from one subplot to the next.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974). Winner: Ingrid Bergman. Albert Finney plays Hercule Poirot in this version of Agatha Christie's story in which a passenger (Richard Widmark) is murdered on the Orient Express and it turns out every passenger has a relationship to the deceased. These include Anthony Perkins, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, and others.


Dell said...

Oddly, I saw California Suite in theaters when I was 7 years old. Not surprisingly, I remember nothing about it other than the fact that I've seen it. I guess that means I need to revisit it.

joel65913 said...

I LOVE The V.I.P.S.! It ridiculously lush and melodramatic but I don't see those things as negatives. Margaret Rutherford is irresistible as the dotty Duchess, a delight every second she's onscreen.

Likewise I adore Murder on the Orient Express. It's all-star cast and beautiful design both set and costume are endlessly watchable. Poor Ingrid gets all sorts of condemnation for her win for her perfectly fine characterization leading to a win but I think that's a knee jerk reaction to it not being the best in the running. The award should have gone to Valentina Cortese, she acknowledged as much in her gem of an acceptance speech. It was a career salute award which is a pity since it cost her the win for her truly deserving work a few years later in Autumn Sonata.

I agree that Maggie Smith's is the only really strong segment of California Suite though I like the Jane Fonda/Alan Alda one well enough. Mostly because of Jane. The Richard Pryor vignette is dreadful. Maggie deserved her win.

I chose three from each category:

The Razor’s Edge (1946)-Anne Baxter-Larry Darrell (Tyrone Power) disillusioned by WWI drifts through Europe looking for life’s meaning. In Paris he becomes reacquainted with childhood friend Sophie MacDonald (Baxter) who he remembers as a happy wife and mother. Having lost her family when a drunk smashed into their car Larry finds her a broken, drug addicted prostitute and tries to help her but her sorrows run too deep.

The Last Picture Show (1971)-Cloris Leachman-In the slowly dying North Texas town of Anarene high school senior Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) drifts into an affair with the coach’s wife Ruth Popper (the recently departed Cloris Leachman). Though it commences more out of ennui than true feeling their involvement soon causes profound changes to both.

The Year of Living Dangerously-Linda Hunt-Well connected photographer Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt) takes inexperienced correspondent Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson) under his wing upon Guy’s arrival in Jakarta. As political tension roils and then escalates to the boiling point both their lives as well as that of diplomat Jill Bryant (Sigourney Weaver) hang by a thread.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)-Harold Russell-At the end of WWII three servicemen return to their hometown to find their way of life radically changed. One of the men Homer Parrish has lost his hands in an explosion, while he has adjusted to living with the hooks that replaced them, he finds the world is a vastly different place for him. Russell, who had suffered the same sort of injury, wasn’t a professional actor but his performance is naturalistic and immensely impactful.

All About Eve (1950)-George Sanders-In the Broadway world of stage star Margo Channing (Bette Davis) urbane, venomously acerbic and powerful theatre critic Addison DeWitt (Sanders) is tolerated but not liked. Still when Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) insinuates herself into Margo’s good graces it’s Addison who sees through her sweetness to the vicious climber underneath. My favorite Supporting Actor winner, a perfect meeting of actor and role.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)-Gig Young-In the soul crushing world of Depression era marathon dances resides opportunistic promoter and emcee Rocky Gravo (Young) a man devoid of scruple or compassion. He sees the contestants-including hard bitten Gloria (Actress nominee Jane Fonda), glamour girl wannabe Alice (Supporting Actress nominee Susannah York), broken down Sailor (Red Buttons) and audience surrogate Robert (Michael Sarrazin)-as so much fodder to be made money off until they lose their usefulness and are thrown away. The deeply troubled Young (he ultimately killed himself and his fifth wife in a murder/suicide) was a preeminent comic actor for years before this revelatory performance.

Cinematic Delights said...

Interesting picks, Ted. These are all new to me so thanks for highlighting. I've seen the 2017 version of Murder on the Orient Express so I'm in rush to see the 1974 until I've forgotten more of the plot. The VIPs and California Suite sound like great fun!

Brittani Burnham said...

I haven't seen any of your picks, but I really like what I've seen from Ingrid Bergman so eventually I'll check out Murder on the Orient Express.

Birgit said...

I have to see the VIPS...another on the list but I love Margaret Rutherford so I hope to see it soon. I agree with your assessment of California Suite but i would like to watch it again since it has been years. I love Orient Express which is, to me, just brilliant.

ThePunkTheory said...

Bergman really was great in Murder on the Orient Express!