I've been in the trenches working on my End of 2007 mega-post - dude, it's turning out much more complicated than I thought it was gonna be - but I took a brief break a few minutes ago and went scanning the interwebs and had the "Oh shit!" moment I warned y'all I was gonna have when I realized that today is StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Blog-a-thon and sure enough here I am with nothing prepared. I'm one of those bastard people. You know the ones.
But then I notice - I did a lot of noticing - as I scanned through all the entries so far that as of right now, 4:41pm, nowhere in the list of terrific actresses is this year's very best Supporting Actress turn, from my point of view, and I just can't fathom it. How could this be? Have I gone blind? Deranged? Is this a Twilight Zone episode where suddenly everybody's a pig-person and my beauty queen crown is worthless?
What I'm saying here is, where the heck is the Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton love?
Perhaps someone posted it and it hasn't been linked yet. That's what's going on. I see Margo Martindale covered, and Jennifer Garner, my two other favorites of the year. But... Tilda!
So I'll take it upon myself, I suppose. All of that preamble is also my way of putting it up front that this isn't prepared, and will probably be terrifically scattered. You're forewarned. And, if you've visited this blog before, you're probably fully aware that my thoughts are almost always scattered. Anyway, thankfully I saw the film just two weeks ago so it's pretty fresh.
In Michael Clayton Tilda plays Karen Crowder, litigator for UNorth, this agriculture-behemoth with its eyes set on poisoning little girls as long as they can keep making money off of it. Billions of dollars lay on Karen's ability to stop the bad word on their product from spreading, and keeping the entire thing tangled up in the courts until nobody stands to make any money off of suing. It's... a high pressure position, basically. And with the terrifying efficiency I so love Tilda for, she lays out her entire character's frazzled existence in a series of almost lyrical scenes, cutting back and forth (obviously some of the credit for how well these moments work has to go to the director, Tony Gilroy) between her to-the-correct-inflection preparation for the day - lay out a dress just so, snap a stocking just right, find a new euphemism for how cold my home life is, check - and her actual work.
Tilda makes it so clear how over-her-head Karen's feeling that, as we see her choices becoming more and more desperate, I never found myself hating her character who could've been an easy villain, but instead wanting to reach through the screen and shake her and tell her to stop what she's doing and pull herself together. The final confrontation between Clayton and Karen could've gone for that easy, triumph-over-evil-corporation feeling (think Erin Brockovich), but because of the depths Tilda had revealed in Karen it played much more complicated than that and, to me, terrifically sad. She'd driven herself - and yes, an Evil Monolith on her back - into a corner with no escape, and instead of feeling celebratory I felt Karen's desperation, and as she crumpled to the floor it took my breath away. I should hate Karen! Evil lady with little girls under her feet! But no, thank goodness for Tilda Swinton, nothing's ever that simple.