The Nominees are.....
Helen Broderick, Top Hat, Swing Time
Edna May Oliver, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
Mildred Natwick, Yolanda and the Thief
Marjorie Main, The Belle of New York
Kay Thompson, Funny Face
And the Winner is.....
Kay Thompson, Funny Face; and
Edna May Oliver, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (tie)
This is a category that no one really stands out. The women other than Fred's dancing partners usually have very little to do other than to provide comic relief and balance out the cast.
However, two women do distinguish themselves with great performances. Perhaps it has to do with the role they play- both are independent, strong willed women who have more to do than usual. Both assert themselves with great vigour and put their stamp on the movie. While the others are (only slightly) more dispensible, Funny Face and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle would not be the same movies without Thompson or Oliver.
However, in this category, the other three are also very worthy. Helen Broderick's wisecracking, worldly and earthy character is a terrific counterpoint to the flighty and haughty Ginger, and she provides endless moments of great comedy in her movies. Mildred Natwick's airheaded aunt seems to be written as a cliché purely for comic relief, but she plays it with an undertone that hints at a capability disguised. A word here, a look there, a gesture all hint at the ability she has, and in the final scene her calmness and unflappability betray her inner steel. Finally, Marjorie Main built an entire career playing strong women who were unafraid to assert themselves and who did things their way. Her character in The Belle of New York is a perfect example, contemptuous of fools, little patience for idiots, strong willed and determined, but with a soft spot for her nephew and willing to change her mind when proven wrong.
In short, all five women here are great supporting actors. You can't go wrong with any of them.
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