Posted at 9:55 AM on January 29, 2008
by Euan Kerr
I joined a small but attentive crowd at the Roseville Theater late last evening to catch Amy Ryan's best supporting actress nominated performance as drug addicted mother Helene McCready. Based on a Dennis Lehane novel, the story revolves around the disappearance and possible kidnapping of McCready's daughter Amanda.
It's a brutal little story set against wretched neighborhoods in Boston hammered by poverty, drugs, and gangs. It's a place where conventional morality is often set aside, and when the issue of child abuse and abduction gets added the equation becomes so twisted as to be almost unrecognizable.
Ben Affleck in his first directorial effort makes good use of his brother Casey as private detective Patrick Kenzie. As someone who knows the neighborhood, he's asked by Amanda's Aunt Bea to augment the police investigation, and despite some initial scepticism from the cops, soon begins turning up leads.
Amy Ryan creates in Helene McCready an unlikable but very watchable character. Helene is foul-mouthed and aggressive. She has maternal instincts, but Ryan plays her as being so self-centered that it's never clear what is driving her actions. Does she want Amanda back because she misses her, or is it just a chance to be a minor celebrity in front of the wall of TV cameras set up outside her house?
Predicting this category is a real head scratcher. Ryan is up against a teenage girl (Saoirse Ronan for "Atonement,") the winner of the SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, (Ruby Dee for "American Gangster,") a perennial favorite who won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress (Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton,") and the real wild card, the actress nominated for playing a male icon, who is also nominated for lead actress (Cate Blanchett as one of the Bob Dylans in "I'm Not There.")
While I am still taking in some of these films, it's hard to forget how Linda Hunt won the Best Supporting Actress for playing a guy in "The Year of Living Dangerously." At the moment my money is with Blanchett
(Also remember Casey Affleck is nominated this year for best supporting actor for his role as Robert Ford in awkwardly titled "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.")
I think you mean Linda Hunt.