2009 Honorees: Best Supporting Actress
CLAUDIA CELEDÓN for The Maid, who lacks critical distance on the full scale of her privilege, but her inchoate feelings for her maid surpass mere sympathy or cluelessness;
VERA FARMIGA for Up in the Air, because she exudes a palpable shift in thought every three seconds, while still being sexy and sporting, and still keeping mysteries at bay;
MARCIA GAY HARDEN for Whip It, whose sense of family ties, rejection of the unfamiliar, fondness for old-school femininity, and secret rebellious streak all feel so real;
MIMI KENNEDY for In the Loop, because she evokes genuine outrage, avoids the lazy ballbreaker route, and is so sharply comic with relatively few boldfaced character notes; and
MO'NIQUE for Precious, who lacks polish but emits profound commitment, blazing with anger, self-pity, and illness, forcing us to feel the lethal stakes of this story.
Extremely honorable mentions to Rona Lipaz-Michael, who is almost as gripping an observer-reactor to Hiam Abbass in Lemon Tree as Celedón is to Saavedra in The Maid; and to two secret weapons of the Mumblecore-ish set, Alycia Delmore's patient but exasperated girlfriend in Humpday and Katy O'Connor, the spacy, occasionally tearful store clerk in Beeswax, who wears her liberal bleeding heart on her thrift-store sleeve.
Next tier down, though "down" is hardly the right word, were Mariah Carey's weary, candid, but ultimately overchallenged social worker in Precious, Naturi Naughton's commanding Lil' Kim in Notorious, the deftly comic character work of Anna Chlumsky in In the Loop, the chilly, death's door maternity of Edith Scob in Summer Hours, and Hope Olaide Wilson's impressive spin on the stock role of the tough, abandoned older sister marooned on some unlucky relative's front door, this time in Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself.