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Best Actress in a Supporting Role 1955: Ranking

5. Peggy Lee in Pete Kelly's Blues
Peggy Lee delivers some strong moments throughout her performance, but ultimately her own inexperience and the poor quality of the movie prevent her performance from becoming anything truly substantial.
Best scene: Rose sings "He needs me"

4. Jo Van Fleet in East of Eden
Jo Van Fleet sometimes overdoes it and doesn't quite convey all the nuances of the complex character of Kate, but she still delivers an interesting and memorable performance in the movie's most intriguing role. 
Best scene: Kate meets Aron. 

3. Marisa Pavan in The Rose Tattoo
Marisa Pavan is a bit too old for the character she's playing but she still delivers a graceful and luminous turn that stands as one of the movie's strongest elements, and she carries her own subplot extremely well. 
Best scene: Rosa finally stands up to Serafina.

2. Natalie Wood in Rebel without a Cause
Natalie Wood is great in portraying the rebellious and careless façade of Judy while still showing her insecurities and vulnerabilities. She also develops a wonderful chemistry with James Dean making their scenes together poignant and tender.
Best scene: Her breakdown at the police station.

1. Betsy Blair in Marty
Betsy Blair shares a fantastic chemistry with Ernest Borgnine and she matches his performance step by step: she delivers a quiet, subtle performance that she fills with luminous screen-presence and heartbreaking poignancy. It's a tremendous work that is beautiful in its simplicity.
Best scene: The kiss.

Honorable Omissions: Jo Van Fleet delivered an unforgettable performance as the domineering stage mother in I'll Cry Tomorrow, and I thought that Peggy Lee would have been worthier of a nomination for her voice-work in Lady and the Tramp rather than for her performance in Pete Kelly's Blues. Lillian Gish gave a performance that is both tenderly warm and passionately fierce in The Night of the Hunter, and in the same movie Shelley Winters does a rather effective job in portraying her character's descent into insanity. I find The Tender Trap a very unremarkable movie but I absolutely love Celeste Holm's performance as Sylvia: she steals every scene she's in thanks to her wonderfully natural screen-presence and I thought she carried a tremendous emotional punch in the final act. Eleanor Parker is both despicable and tragic as the needy and manipulative wife of Frank Sinatra in The Man with the Golden Arm, and Rosalind Russell steals every scene in Picnic with her poignant yet entertaining turn as the lonely teacher. Julie Harris is sweet and charming in East of Eden, and I think that if someone should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for that movie, it should have been her. Smiles of a Summer Night has a wonderful female supporting cast: Eva Dahlbeck delivers a wonderfully entertaining performance making Desirèe one of the most loveable schemer I've ever seen; Ulla Jacobsson is both funny and moving as the charming yet inexperienced Anne and Harriet Andersson is hilarious as the seductive Petra; Naima Wifstrand and Margit Carlqvist also make the most out of their limited roles.
The next year: 1942.

My Best Supporting Actress Ballot:

  1. Betsy Blair, Marty
  2. Lillian Gish, The Night of the Hunter - 5/5
  3. Celeste Holm, The Tender Trap - 4.5/5
  4. Eva Dahlbeck, Smiles of a Summer Night - 4.5/5
  5. Natalie Wood, Rebel without a Cause 
  6. Jo Van Fleet, I'll Cry Tomorrow - 4.5/5
  7. Eleanor Parker, The Man with the Golden Arm - 4/5
  8. Rosalind Russell, Picnic - 4/5
  9. Julie Harris, East of Eden - 4/5
  10. Shelley Winters, The Night of the Hunter - 4/5

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