Here are my picks for the top 10 Best Supporting Actress performances of 2016.
10) Kristen Stewart (Cafe Society)
The first thing you need to know about me is that I actually don’t like Kristen Stewart as an actress. However, just like her performance in Clouds Of Sils Maria, I have to tip my hat to her. I thought this performance opened her up a bit more, and showed a different side of her. Usually she just stands around shrugging in corners, or trying not to make eye contact, or whatever other laughably bad traits she picked up from doing Twilight. Here, she’s funny, confident, and heartbreakingly good at times. Solid performance.
9) Haley Bennett (The Girl On The Train)
The movie is total crap, but Bennett’s performance is one of the more memorable things. In fact, I barely remember Haley Bennett before this film. I know she was in Magnificent Seven, but it’s almost like I have no memory of a time when she wasn’t a good actress. I now just know her as the girl who handled some really deep shit. I’ve definitely forgiven her for Hardcore Henry.
8) Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures)
I love how sassy she is in this. I felt like she was channeling Olivia Pope at times. There were some great moments with her character, like her courtroom speech, or the scene with her husband and kids at the picnic. It’d be easy to write her off, because she’s not Octavia Spencer or Taraji P Henson, but you’d be mistaken. Side note: I also thought she was really good in Moonlight this year, so I’m excited to see which projects she continues to choose.
7) Michelle Williams (Manchester By The Sea)
For a lot of people, this was the top performance of the year. For me, I thought Williams did an exceptional job with what she was given to work with. However, this is truly a supporting performance, and she exists to support Casey Affleck’s groundbreaking work. Her screen time is rather limited, and she just didn’t get a chance to impact me as much as the some other performances in this category.
6) Octavia Spencer (Hidden figures)
Spencer is quickly becoming one of those actresses you can say “Oh, she’s always good.”, like Viola or Meryl. I loved how we didn’t know as much about her character as we did the other two girls in Hidden Figures, yet that didn’t stop her from being fully realized. She showed her character over and over, like when she reads a book on computers, instead of just sitting back and allowing herself to be obsolete. Her exchange with Kirsten Dunst in the bathroom is probably the best scene in the whole movie.
5) Nicole Kidman (Lion)
This is some of her best work, as a mother longing to have children, and ending up with a troubled child in the process. She’s very sympathetic, which is hard to do for her character. When you meet her, you know as an audience member that she’s just adopted a boy who still has a mother, and just got lost from his family. So, she can’t really be his mother, right? However, she’s so damn empathetic to his situation that you love her anyway. She raises him to be a respectable man, who in the end is stronger and better, and able to return home finally because of her.
4) Aja Naomi King (The Birth Of A Nation)
If everyone had just gotten off their high fucking horses and separated the work of Birth Of A Nation from the man Nate Parker, I feel confident Aja Naomi King would be in this years Oscar race. For me, she had the standout performance. When we first meet her, she is completely broken down as a slave. She’s lost her mind, and Nate’s Nat Turner brings her back to a semblance of normalcy and happiness. Then, she’s broken again, and your heart breaks with her. I had no idea she was this good, having seen her in How To Get Away With Murder, but she is the heart and soul of Birth Of A Nation, and she deserved to be recognized separately from Nate Parker’s situation.
3) Naomie Harris (Moonlight)
What an intense three days of filming Harris must have had for Moonlight. She’s the only actress in all three acts, which means she’s the only actress we see in three different stages. Harris is such a beautiful actress, I honestly wasn’t sure I’d buy her in the role, but she proved me wrong. She’s willing to dig in and get dirty. The way the film is set up, she spends most of the movie as a crack addict mother who seems to not want to get better. It’s an interesting arc, because usually these roles have some inner awakening that crack is killing them, and they need to get better. Instead, it focuses on her addiction making her a shitty parent, and then in the third act she’s in rehab, and we see what kind of person she could have been all along. It’s a bold move, and one that just allowed Harris to shine.
2) Molly Shannon (Other People)
She’s going to be robbed this year. Absolutely robbed. Molly Shannon has never been better, and its a shame more people haven’t seen Other People. She’s just SO FUCKING GOOD IN THIS. It blew my mind. She plays a woman dying of cancer, in the way that only Molly Shannon could pull off. She’s a quirky mother and wife, strong and resilient till the end. She continues to defy and fight, and it makes her ending so much more tragic because of her strength and humor throughout. I’m going to be angry tomorrow morning when she’s snubbed, but I know its coming. No one saw this film. It’s a shame.
1) Viola Davis (Fences)
For me, she kinda stole this film from Denzel. I know some people will disagree with me, but she had the heartbreaking scene where Denzel reveals he’s been sleeping with someone else… and she’s pregnant… and he doesn’t want to leave her. Wow. Viola’s face and body language during that whole sequence just broke my heart. I wanted to burst through the screen and give her a hug. From that moment, through the end, Davis steals the rest of the film. She becomes a different character than the one she started as in the beginning. The joy is gone. The happiness is gone. There’s just strength and character left. She continues to do “the right thing” in spite of her husband. Viola Davis is one of the best actresses alive, consistently turning out excellent performances, and this one is right at the top of her resume, and also my pick for Best Supporting Actress of 2016.