LaVona Fay Golden is at long last getting the recognition and gratitude she deserves. Allison Janney, who portrayed the abusive sacrificing and demanding mother of Tonya Harding in “I, Tonya,” took home the golden statuette for Best Supporting Actress at the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday night. It was her first nomination and first win.
Janney’s turn as the tough-talking and colorful matriarch has been garnering awards buzz from the start, which in turn has been realized through awards from the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, the Critics’ Choice, and the Screen Actors Guild, among others. It’s a testament to LaVona’s theory about parenting that “nice gets you shit.”
In contrast, Janney’s biggest competition was another mother, played by Laurie Metcalf in “Lady Bird.” As the mother of Saoirse Ronan’s Christine, aka Lady Bird, Metcalf is tireless and self-sacrificing, if a bit passive-aggressive in how she expresses herself. The honesty of her portrayal makes for one of the most affecting moments of the film.
Besides Metcalf, the other contenders in the Best Supporting Actress category included Lesley Manville as the steely and perfect sister in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread”; Mary J. Blige as the stoic farmer in Dee Rees’ “Mudbound”; and Octavia Spencer as the hilarious but loyal co-worker in Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water.”