Best of 2017: Supporting Actress

SUP actress

Each year I set aside time to highlight what I think are the best performances of the past movie year. In keeping with the upcoming Oscars I have adopted their format and for the next several days I’ll be sharing my favorite performances for each of the four acting categories. Ladies first so I’m starting with the Supporting Actress category. Women had a ton of fabulous performances to consider this year which made this tough to narrow down. Nonetheless here are my five favorites:

#5 – Octavia Spencer (“The Shape of Water”)


You could make an argument that Octavia Spencer could play this role in her sleep. I tend to agree, but that doesn’t make her any less fabulous in Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water”. There is an incredible natural quality to Spencer’s acting making it a perfect fit for characters like this. The movie certainly benefits from her presence.

#4 – Kirstin Dunst (“The Beguiled”)


With the many good performances in Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” my mind kept coming back to Kirsten Dunst. It’s a fittingly low-key performance but one that’s hard to read. As the tension amps up in the film’s second half, Dunst is allowed to open up her character a tad more. But through it all she still remains a bit of a mystery.

#3 – Tatiana Maslany (“Stronger”)


One of the true surprises of the year came from Tatiana Maslany who plays Jake Gyllenhaal’s on again/off again girlfriend in David Gordan Green’s biopic “Stronger”. It would have been easy for Maslany to get lost behind Gyllenhaal’s attention-getting performance but she’s incredibly good and an anchor in many of the movie’s best scenes.

#2 – Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”)


Drop this one into the “eye-opening” category. Mary J. Blige kills it in “Mudbound” and it’s great to see her getting some well-deserved attention along the awards circuit. I knew Blige had gotten into acting but I had never seen her work. After her performance as the matriarch of her 1940s Mississippi Delta family, you can expect to see a lot more of her.

#1 – Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”)


There were several really good performances from women playing ‘complicated’ mothers. Laurie Metcalf’s from “Lady Bird” was easily my favorite. There is a complexity to the character that demands a very careful and precise performance. Metcalf gets it just right and delivers a character who walks the pivotal line between sympathetic and infuriating. Brilliant.

So what do you think? What did I get right and what did I miss. Share your thoughts and picks in the comments section. Supporting Actor is next.

19 thoughts on “Best of 2017: Supporting Actress

  1. I do love these yearly posts, bro. Always great to catch your opinion on such matters. I’d love to do it myself but I rarely catch everything on time.

    I can only comment on one actress here as I haven’t seen the rest yet but, yeah, it’s Laurie Metcalf. I wasn’t overly keen on Lady Bird but Ronan and Metcalf were very good.

    • Thanks my friend. I do have fun doing these things. Metcalf was a no-brainer for me. I love her character – far more complex than just a domineering mom. And you’re right, she and Ronan are fantastic together.

  2. Love love love your choices 🙂 Been a bit of a film geek as well in this regard as I do my best of lists every year, but I haven’t caught up with everything yet 😛
    I’ve seen Laurie, Mary J Blige and Kirsten Dunst and they were all fantastic 🙂 Glad someone else remembered how good Dunst was in the beguiled!

    • I love doing these things. I always look back at my past lists when doing a new one. It’s fun to see my choices over the years.

      I loved Dunst and The Beguiled. Do you get a sense that it is somewhat of a forgotten movie?

      • I definitely do Keith. I really enjoyed Coppola’s version of The Beguiled, yet the memory of that theater trip is already gathering dust. Dunst and inspired choice. And who else could it be at #1 other than Laurie Metcalf?

      • Totally agree. No one is talking about The Beguiled and that’s a real shame. As for Metcalf, it looks like she’ll lose the Oscar to Allison Janney but for me she’s tops!

  3. Dunst and Metcalf are excellent choices as there’s still a lot of films for me to see to make a serious list. Plus, I’m really hoping for an Oscar nod for Tiffany Haddish just to shake things up.

    • Really? None of them have opened there? Oh man I know that’s frustrating. I sound like a broken record, but release schedules drive me nuts. Hopefully you can see them soon.

      • According to the distributor, the release dates for THE SHAPE OF WATER and LADY BIRD will be in the middle of February and early March respectively. STRONGER doesn’t have a date yet. That could change if/when they get Oscar nominations.

    • I really need to post my Stronger review. It’s just sitting in my draft bin! It’s a movie that really surprised me. It’s also one that was overlooked by a lot of people.

  4. I’ve only seen Spencer in The Shape of Water and Mary in Mudbound. I think two things you hinted on might explain why Mary is getting love on the awards circuit and Spencer is getting, and will continue to get, much less. Spencer really could play that role in her sleep. She was excellent, but it’s pretty much par for the course. Mary has not had that type of success as an actress. She’s only been in a few things and nothing that has been on the Academy’s radar. So her performance was most certainly an eye-opener.

    Some others I really liked of what I’ve seen so far:

    Allison Janney in I, Tonya
    Catherine Keener in Get Out
    Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip

    • I think you’re exactly right. But I had to put Spencer on here. She has this undeniable charm and authenticity that draws me to her performances. Not a great measuring stick for this type of list, but I can’t help myself.

      Keener is a really good mention. Janney is good too and will probably take home the Oscar.

  5. I love this feature you do. Keith. I agree with your choice of Kirsten Dunst in the list. And after reading this, I want to see The Shape of Water as soon as it comes out where I am.

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