The website StinkyLulu is showcasing a Supporting Actress blogathon with many different points of view on the Best Supporting Actress contenders. I have been asked to participate. Most of those I would choose have already been taken – Diane Kruger, Melanie Laurent, Vera Farmiga, etc. I wanted to try to find some names that others had not already written so beautifully about, like Marion Cotillard for Public Enemies and Rosamund Pike in An Education. I even like the Ginnifer Goodwin reference from He’s Just Not That Into You – she was great in that. So choosing one that hasn’t been chosen already is difficult. But I finally found a few who have been utterly ignored: Heather Graham in The Hangover, Mimi Kennedy, Anna Chlumsky and Gina McKee from In the Loop.
Heather Graham holds her own up against some very funny actors. She hasn’t gotten any “buzz” for her supporting turn, nor has she been campaigning, necessarily, for it. What I like about this blog-a-thon idea is that that it opens up the possibilities outside of the little box we all sometimes find ourselves in. We create this box because we want to be right. In our realistic look at the possibilities we refuse to acknowledge people who might be worthy of recognition. Our choices, though, are usually based on how other voting bodies – the critics, the guilds — have voted. You can hope for anyone to be a strong contender but that doesn’t mean they will be.
Graham plays a single-mom-stripper who somehow manages to get herself married overnight to a seemingly good guy. She pluckily goes along with it and waits for the inevitable, when the guy wakes up to the reality of the situation. She knows he’s not about to marry a stripper, no matter how pretty she is. Lucky for her, though, his wife is an unbearable shrew, thus, her chances improve as the film wears on. Graham is funny throughout, but she gets one really great scene at the end of the movie when he tells her that their “marriage” is over.
On the one hand, Graham’s work is your typical whore-with-a-heart-of-gold — this is a Hollywood tradition that usually captures the heart of the Academy if, say, it’s played by someone not usually cast in that role. Graham, though, has been down this road a few times. Nonetheless, she is brilliant in The Hangover and one of the reasons for the film’s almost accidental success.
What I love about Graham’s work overall, and especially in The Hangover, is that she gives herself over fully to the part. She is funny, sexy, sincere — and pretty much steals every scene she’s in.
Anna Chlumsky, Mimi Kennedy, and Gina McKee from In the Loop
One of the best things about In the Loop is that both men and women get equally funny parts. The film is a brilliant ensemble — you will not find a stronger ensemble of actors in any other film this year, with the possible exception of Inglourious Basterds. Anna Chlumsky hasn’t been seen around much since My Girl, but in In the Loop she plays a young staffer who happens to write up a paper about the potential invasion of Iraq that causes a stir with the government officials she works with and for, specifically her boss Karen Clark (the absolutely hilarious Mimi Kennedy who “bleeds from the mouth”).¬† Chlumsky and Kennedy are so funny together in their half-trusting relationship of boss and aid. Chlumsky is annoyed with Kennedy and the feeling is almost mutual.
Gina McKee (most well known as the wheelchair bound Brit in Notting Hill) plays someone like Karen Clark across the pond. She plays the only smart person in a room full of idiots. She seems to have it all in perspective as she tries to hold everything, and everyone, together. She also gets to act opposite Peter Capaldi who dresses her down at every opportunity. McKee is the audience’s only in back into sanity. She has no time or patience for the idiocy that surrounds her. She holds everything together with a needle and thread – without her, there is complete chaos.