Oscar 1999: Chloe Sevigny for Supporting Actress

Speech delivered at the L.A. Film Critics Association–Seldom has the label of supporting role fit better the performance we're honoring tonight, for arguably, Chloe Sevigny's subtle portrait of Lana, the beautiful girl who falls for Brandon Teena, forms the central, most disturbing narrative threads of Boys Don't Cry, contributing to what can only be described as amour fou, American style.

We have seen quite a few cinematic depictions of white trash, but Sevigny's is probably the most intricate, beguiling, and audacious. An instinctive actress, Sevigny defines each and every problematic interaction–with the infatuated Brandon, with her good-hearted mom, with her mother's psychopathic lover–with sparse dialogue but rich repertoire of gestures.

As a bright girl who refuses to be confined by biology or sociology, Lana is more than a rebel; she's a dreamer caught in a stifling, homophobic milieu. In one of the movie's most challenging scenes, Lana is shocked to realize that Brandon is placed in the girls' section of prison. However, when Brandon tries to explain his “deviance,” Lana refuses to listen. “Shut up,” she says, “I don't care if you're half monkey or half ape.” From then on, she throws herself with abandon into an inevitably doomed love affair.

In my Variety review, I described Boys Don't Cry as Rebel Without a Cause for our culturally diverse times: Hillary Swank and Chloe Sevigny are misfit girls enacting the Jimmy Dean-Natalie Wood romance with utmost sincerity and conviction, searching, like their 50s counterparts, for love, self-worth, and a place to call home.

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