My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 22: Marcia Gay Harden as Lee Krassner in "Pollock" (Best Supporting Actress Ranking)

To this day, Marcia Gay Harden is still the only person to have won an Oscar without having been nominated by the Screen Actors Guild – but it’s easy to see how the upset happened considering that she gave a true tour-de-force performance as Lee Krassner, a painter and the suffering wife of alcoholic artist Jackson Pollock.

Just like Marlon Brando and Kim Hunter in A Streetcar named Desire, Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden have a fantastic and powerful chemistry that combines lust and passion with hate and self-destruction. Marcia Gay Harden has a strong and uncompromising screen presence which she uses to give her character many shades and edges – Lee is tough and bitter, taking care of Jackson like a mother but always loving and sensual. Right at the beginning of their relationship she begins to take care of Jackson’s life (trying to calm him down at dinner, making him breakfast and most importantly, getting people to see his work). Despite the fact that her own life always has to stand back, she never becomes a little house-wife or anything – Lee always keeps her dignity, telling Jackson that she wants to get married or it is over and she always remains her own person. Jackson Pollock may control her life, but he doesn’t control her character. Marcia Gay Harden shows Lee as a strong woman who doesn’t give up and who keeps up with Jackson and his problems.

Essentially, Lee Krassner is the typical ‘suffering wife’ the Academy loves to honor but by emphasizing the strength and determination of Lee, Marcia Gay Harden gave the part a much more interesting and captivating angle than, say, Jennifer Connelly one year later in A Beautiful Mind.

Marcia Gay Harden also has one of the most fascinating ‘Oscar scenes’ ever and she hits that scene out of the park: ‘We are painters, Jackson! We don’t have any money, we don’t get by, we struggle. But you are a great artist. I believe in Jackson Pollock. There’s you and there’s your painting and you, you need, you need, you need, YOU NEED!’  

Marcia Gay Harden crafts Lee Krassner as a woman who loves Jackson the painter probably more than Jackson the man. She can forgive his drinking, maybe even his affairs but she can’t forgive it when he’s not working. She yells at him ‘Whatever trash you take home, I couldn’t care less!’ but she wants him to paint.
Both Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden show a relationship broken right from the beginning, but the affection and the need for each other keep them together. It’s a very intense and gripping portrayal which works wonderfully with the dark tone surrounding it.


Louis Morgan said...

She is fantastic, and would be in my top ten.

joe burns said...

Great review, I like her, but a part of me feels her to be mannered in the part, and not quite my favorite.

mrripley said...

My second choice in 2000 elaine may wins my award but thank heaven she beat hudson,why was her oscar clip fascinating,it is my fave scene of hers and the whole film,i loved madigans cameo too.

dinasztie said...

For me, she's a bit overrated. Still, she remains my pick.