Sunday, January 04, 2009

Best Supporting Actress, Class of 2008: Diane Wiest

Gosh, I wasn't going to do this this year. I have been embarrassingly lax in going to the movies this year. I said this last year but I did an even worse job this year. Stinkylulu has been reminding me for weeks about this, and I've been pained about it because I thought, "You know what? I have nothing."

And yet...

It's the list that's currently up that inspired me. Granted, it's a very strong list, which is typical of this particular effort, since people really defend their choices well. In particular, I noted the various nods toward Synecdoche, New York, which had a slew of wonderful acting going on, mostly by women and mostly in supporting roles. (The casting of this film is so uncanny that I had to get to the end of the flick to realize that Samantha Morton was not doing double duty, that my crush-object Emily Watson looks so much like Morton made digital editing unnecessary. Michelle Williams also proves once again that her previous nomination was no fluke.)

But I realized that my own favorite from that film was missing from the list.

I'm discovering over the course of these blogathons that I'm drawn to the performance that for me yields the crux of the entire story. For me this year, and particularly for this film, that performance was masterfully maneuvered by the queen of contemporary supporting actressing, Diane Wiest. Really, has she done lead work that equals the strength of her supporting performances? It seems redundant to mention it here, and her again -- and yet, it is so deserved here. The character of Ellen becomes the one that Caden melts into (or is it the other way around); Wiest proves to be the one person able to be dismissive at first blush as she enters the world of Synecdoche, only to take it over completely (and literally) by the end. We believe her in this position. Part of it, I realize, is from the power that her supporting-actressing yields here -- but it's power well-used by Kauffman, to the extent that she only needs to appear in the last quarter of a rather long film to make it work.

For these reasons and more, I submit my candidate for Best Supporting Actress 2008: Diant Wiest.

This entry is part of the 3rd Annual Supporting Actress Blogathon -- please feel free to visit the other sites on the list, since I know for sure they have probably seen more films than I have and the list is always fun and varied


Larry Gross said...

I agree with you abou Dianne Wiest's work. It helps that she enters the movie at the most important and crucial thematic moment of transition in the fim--her entrance embodies the final shredding of Caden's narcisstic ego, and helps enact Kaufman's most interesting (and strangely hopeful) hypothesis--the movement from narcissism to universality. Wiest's implacably simple sense of reality helps her embody this awesome task. It was a lot to ask of any actor or actress and she was up to it.

J.J. said...

I agree it's a magnetic performance BUT WHAT DOES SHE/IT/EVERYTHING MEAN?

Middento said...

Really, JJ. Meaning?

In any case, see Nick's piece. He does a nice job trying (perhaps in vain) to make sense of it all.

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