Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Forgotten Characters 3:2 (2010 in Review)

Honestly, I don’t get the guilds. From the WGA consistently qualifying screenplays that didn’t follow their format to the SAG nominating films for Ensemble Cast and missing out on key actors. I was especially annoyed when An Education earned an Ensemble Nod and Cara Seymour and Olivia Williams failed to get mention, and this year they were at it again. I suppose, in theory, with legendary thespians around you’re bound to get forgotten but it’s a damn shame for
Yaya DaCosta in The Kids Are All Right
as Tanya

One of the things that’s most obviously great about Cholodenko’s work in The Kids Are All Right is her ability to juggle the storylines of the main quintet without ever short-changing any of them – but it’s a sort of disservice to her and Blumberg when we think of only the main quintet they’re not the only characters in the film that exude authenticity. Tanya is Paul co-worker at the vineyard and his on-and-off again lover. And, true, in theory she’s essentially a sounding board for Paul to voice his insecurities, but I love how she’s not written narrowly as a flat character. Moreover, I love the little things DaCosta does with the performance. She has a winning charisma about her and I just love that early conversation where Paul is telling her that he can’t believe they used his stuff. She responds with: “Why not? I’d use it.” With this type of character who’s literally acting on the sidelines it’s important to get line-readings down, and DaCosta does it beautifully. It’s part of the charm of The Kids Are All Right that has you feeling you can reach out and touch all the characters.
Tanya is probably most noticeable by her Foxxy Cleopatra hair from the eighties, and I probably being a bit too anal when I wonder if that faux-eighties hear is redolent of the faux-African necklace she wears recalling some deeper meaning (probably just me). I love that scene, though, where that other worker comes in and Tanya is all mocking – “I thought you should have the first taste...of my pussy.” Another line-reading I’m always liable to remember, not that she’s only good with the readings, though. As Paul shifts into the lives of Jules and the children you kind of get that he and Tanya are heading nowhere. Like that first time he turns down their liaison, her face is just a little disappointed – but it doesn’t go on too long (kudos to the Jeffrey Werner’s excellent editing). And that final scene where they do part ways manages to have some semblance of profundity because we’ve actually come to care about DaCosta’s kooky sidekick. And the fact that the film is only 90 minutesa and still get that sort of a relationship with a palpably secondary character is something worthy applauding – not only Choldenko and Blumberg, but DaCosta too.
Do you think SAG snubbed her? Or was she rightfully forgotten?

Previously Forgotten: 
3:1 Cillian Murphy in Inception


Film Intel said...

I don't look too closely at the guild nominations to be honest but it does seem strange to not reward actors on the fringe in what is meant to be (at least in name) a reward for the entire cast. Yaya DaCosta's role is big enough to at least justify a mention I would think.

Aside from that, this is a great pick for a forgotten character anyway and I thought DaCosta was actually one of the highlights of the film; her character is sexy and well-judged and provides something a little different to the leads. Really looking forward to seeing her in more stuff soon.

Anonymous said...

That I've known of her since America's Next Top Model and is the only one to have a career arc like hers.

And she's fine in The Kids are All Right. There' a little bit of Yaya in Tanya. She's affectionate, classy and outgoing and her performance isn't as tick-y as the people nominated by the SAG. Also, her performance in The Messenger is so haunting.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

film intel my point exactly, these are the type of performances that the SAG should rush to embrace. actressing on the sidelining and as you say providing a nice alternative to the leads.

paolo my sis said she recognised her from that too. i'm not surprised when you say there's much of her in the character, but playing yourself isn't necessarily simple and she really does have a winning charisma.

and YES lovely in the messenger. another great movie.

TomS said...

Just watched this again last night (before I read your blog) and I said to myself, "what an interesting character! Nicely written and performed.

This is the kind of performance for which the Supporting categories were invented. It is a shame that a small and effective role like this continues to get ignored, in favor of higher-profile performers in what are essentially short-form leading roles.

Good for you for singling her out.

Robert said...

She was great. It's really an interesting character and she really had my love throughout the movie. She was truly forgotten. :(

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

tom well if they can't even remember a performance like this for an ensemble award, there's no chance of her getting actual recognition.

robert yes, yes, yes and unfortunately yes (but not by me)

Nigel Maruva Chikukwa said...

I love your insight, especially when you use it to validate minor characters.

lol, I think the "forgotten characters" series is my favourite because it has me re-visiting films and finding lost characters of my own

Fitz said...

I don't know why Inception, The Town or Scott Pilgrim were nominated. They were actual ensemble pieces.

And yes Yaya DaCosta deserved to be involved. She had an impact on the film.

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

Good movie, highlighting Yaya -- with all the attention being heaped on Moore and Bening and Ruffalo, she's gotten lost in the mix. But her part is a good one, and she gives a strong performance.