5. Allison Janney in I, Tonya
Allison Janney delivers a rather entertaining performance and she has some moments of greatness throughout the movie, but she too often oversimplifies a potentially complex character and ends up being the least interesting aspect of an otherwise excellent movie.
Best scene: LaVona throws a knife at Tonya.
4. Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water
The role of Zelda isn't the most complicated character even written, but Octavia Spencer gives a scene-stealing, fun performance while sharing a lovely chemistry with Sally Hawkins. Moreover, she excels in the latter section of the movie bringing the needed impact to her more dramatic scenes.
Best scene: Zelda is confronted by Strickland in her apartment.
3. Mary J. Blige in Mudbound
Mary J. Blige is quietly powerful in a small but challenging role, expressing a world of feelings while often staying in the background. She works wonderfully with all of her cast-members and imbues her character with warmth, strength, intelligence and dignity.
Best scene: Ronsel gives Florence a chocolate bar.
2. Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread
Lesley Manville delivers a marvelous performance that adds a lot to the movie despite never being its focus. She's an effectively steely, domineering presence but what's especially impressive is her amazing subtle work in the background in which she conveys the complexity of her relationships with both Reynolds and Alma and impeccably showing how her feelings evolves throughout the course of the movie.
Best scene: "Don't pick a fight with me"
1. Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird
A very difficult choice, but I ended up giving the edge to Metcalf's performance because I found her so moving and powerful on a personal level. Metcalf delivers a beautiful turn, creating an unforgettable character that feels so wonderfully vivid and life-like. She shares an amazing chemistry with Saoirse Ronan and nails every single emotional beat of a layered, complex person.
Best scene: "Whatever we give you, it's never enough"
Honorable Omissions: Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Blade Runner 2049 for me was Ana de Armas' phenomenal performance as Joi. The character itself is one of the most fascinating elements of the movie as it never clarifies whether she has a true conscience or she just does what she is programmed and designed to do: de Armas' performance plays with this ambiguity so well and its greatness lies in the fact that she allows both interpretations of the character to be perfectly reasonable. I personally think there are many indications that Joi has a soul and in my opinion de Armas is heartbreaking at portraying Joi's growing awareness of her artificial being and her longing to be like a real girl. Her chemistry with Ryan Gosling is nothing short of spectacular and the two of them make K's and Joi's relationship one of the most intriguing and moving romances ever. It's an incredible, underrated achievement. Sylvia Hoeks is also great as Luv in the same movie: she brings the needed viciousness to the character making her a genuinely terrifying and upsetting villain but her performance is more than what meets the eye and she actually adds a lot to the thematic complexity of the movie. Hoeks' Luv acts a striking counterpart to Gosling's K: whereas he searches for meaning in his life by trying to affirm is humanity, Luv reacts to her condition as a replicant by trying to be the best one possible in order to gain the appreciation of her superior - there's an underlying eagerness to please Wallace in her interactions with Jared Leto that makes her performance incredibly interesting. There's another great, underrated performance in Blade Runner 2049 and that one is Carla Juri's: she has little more than a scene in it, but she gives a warm, down-to-earth and moving portrayal that makes the most out of its limited screen-time. Lois Smith is fantastic in Marjorie Prime: as Marjorie, she brings the needed life, spark and hunger for life in her moments of clarity and then she's devastating at portraying her mental decay; as Marjorie Prime, instead, she is great at conveying how the AI carefully absorbs everything she is told growing more and more similar to the real Marjorie, leading up to the heartbreaking closing scene of the movie. Geena Davis is also excellent in the same movie, powerfully portraying the vulnerability behind Tessa's unpleasant behavior and her character's growing descent into depression and despair is extremely harrowing. Giulia Lazzarini is marvelous in The Place: she exceptionally portrays her character's conflict between her wish to have her husband back and her horror at the cruel deed she is supposed to commit in order to fulfill her wish. Her final scene is one of the best acted moments of 2017 and Lazzarini brings such a powerful, satisfying closure to her character's emotional journey. There are many other great performances in the same movie (Valeria Puccini's, Alba Rohrwacher's and Silvia D'Amico's, all great at portraying the different facets of their character's desperations) with special kudos to Sabrina Ferilli, who works so well as the movie's center of sanity and brings a welcome amount of down-to-earth, playful warmth to the character. Downsizing is a rather problematic movie, but Hong Chau is wonderful in it: in what could have been an atrocious role, she is both hilarious and heartbreaking and steals every scene she's in with her heartfelt and committed portrayal. Holly Hunter is wonderful in The Big Sick, beautifully showing how her hostility towards Kumail gradually turns into fondness and subtly conveying her character's inner plight due to her own marital problems. On top of that, she has some exceptionally funny moments such as her outburst to the racist frat boy which is absolutely priceless. One of the things I admire the most about The Lost City of Z is how it handles Sienna Miller's character, which is far from the conventional, supportive wife role: she supports her husband not because she blindly believes in him but because she shares his adventurous spirits; and when she complains about his voyages is not because she wants him to be at home with her, but because she wants to take part in the journey. Miller is magnificent at portraying her character's strength, indipendence and intelligence and makes the moust out of her limited screen-time. Tilda Swinton is a delight in her dual role in Okja: as Lucy, she is hilarious at portraying her character's insecurities and emotional instability behind her attempts at efficiency and professionality; as Nancy, she delivers a fun villanous turn and makes her the heartless monster she is supposed to be while still portraying her role in a comical fashion. Get Out features three excellent female performances: Betty Gabriel does not have a whole lot of screen-time, but she is phenomenal whenever she appears with her "No, no, no" scene being one for the ages as she manages to be frightening, puzzling and moving all at once; Allison Williams is excellent at subverting the trope of the supportive girlfriend, with her performance in the last act being downright terrifying (the phone call scene is outstanding); and Catherine Kenner delivers a very sinister, disconcerting performance with her big scene opposite Daniel Kaluuya being the movie's highlight. I loved Bria Vinaite's performance in The Florida Project as I thought she managed to portray impeccably her character's trashy, abrasive qualities without ever turning her into a caricature: she effectively portrays her as a very flawed person and an even more flawed mother, but she manages to make you sympathize with her and her final scenes in the movie are incredibly poignant. Nicole Kidman is excellent in The Killing of a Sacred Deer: it's a heavily stylized performance that works wonders for the movie, starting off as a sinister rendition of the typical, loving wife and mother and then becoming downright chilling with her razor-sharp portrayal of her character's progressive loss of faith in her husband. Novitiate features many excellent supporting performance: Julianne Nicholson delivers a realistic portrayal of a mother who can't understand her daughter's choices, Morgan Saylor is heartbreaking as an extremely vulnerable novice, Dianna Agron effectively portrays her character's growing inability to commit to her life as a nun and Rebecca Dayan is extremely powerful in her portrayal of her character's inner turmoil that she tries to repress. Kirsten Dunst delivers a touching portrayal of her character's loneliness in The Beguiled while Elle Fanning delivers a playful, entertaining turn as a seductive, bored student. Oona Laurence is also quite remarkable at portraying her character's progressive loss of innocence throughout the movie. Juno Temple is endearing and touching in Wonder Wheel and along with the cinematography she is its only redeeming quality. Carey Mulligan is rather remarkable in Mudbound and Beanie Feldstein makes Julie one of the most moving characters of Lady Bird. Tatiana Maslany is the best thing about Stronger delivering a powerful portrayal of her character's love for Jeff as well as her frustration for his lack of commitment, and Andrea Riseborough is excellent in The Death of Stalin, bringing the needed dramatic weight to Svetlana's plight while still being an extremely entertaining presence with her extremely intense portrayal of distress.
The next year: Best Supporting Actor 2017.
My Best Supporting Actress Ballot
- Ana de Armas, Blade Runner 2049 - 5/5
- Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
- Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
- Lois Smith, Marjorie Prime - 5/5
- Giulia Lazzarini, The Place - 4.5/5
- Sylvia Hoeks, Blade Runner 2049 - 4.5/5
- Hong Chau, Downsizing - 4.5/5
- Holly Hunter, The Big Sick - 4.5/5
- Sienna Miller, The Lost City of Z - 4.5/5
- Tilda Swinton, Okja - 4.5/5