Thursday, January 13, 2011

LiE Awards 2010: Supporting Acting

In our obsession with celebrity and grand leading performances it is often easy to forget the great supporting stars which give them the opportunity to breath. Without the right supporting cast, any movie can crumble under the pressure of even the most dynamic leads. Supporting stars pave the way, supply the background, and insert life into the world the director is creating. As such, many of us in the critical, and blogging circle feel the need to honor those supporting actors for the greatness they bestow onto their respective films. Below are my picks of the ten best supporting actors and actresses, along with a couple superlatives just for fun.


Worst Year: Emily Blunt. Between The Wolfman, Gulliver's Travels, and Wild Target, Blunt's stock fell faster than a Bank CEO at a humanity convention begging for donations to help maintain his second home. Hopefully The Adjustment Bureau will pave way towards greener pastors.

Most Profitable Year: Helena Bonham Carter. Alice made over a billion worldwide. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sits just short of that figure with 926million. At $32m, The King's Speech isn't doing too bad either. What do they all have in common? Well, besides a lot of British subtext and writers. Good ol' HBC. I may not have loved her in everything she did, but her movies raked in enough dough to feed Africa ten times over... of course, we know they don't really prefer their bread to be green.


Honorable Mention: Andrew Garfield, The Social Network

5. Jeremy Renner for "THE TOWN"

Jeremy Renner has finally found his niche after turning out fine roles in the 00's with films like 28 Weeks Later and SWAT. The brash, wild-child masculine man with questionable decision making skills bent on self-destruction seems to perfectly mold into what he's been building. With a role in The Avengers coming up, and a possible new platform vehicle with this year's Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, I expect the goods to keep coming for his career. As The Town proves: he can make even the most repetitive characters seem refreshing on pure intensity alone.

4. Geoffrey Rush for "THE KING'S SPEECH"

There's something indisputably alluring about Geoffrey Rush. By most standards he falls well outside the reign of Hollywood ilk, yet he continuously finds ways of making it work for him. Often playing outlandish characters, Rush knows how to find the right balance between heart and zaniness to make a role work. In The King's Speech, he tackles the elusive Lionel Logue. Rush perfectly captures his wit, sarcasm, and total disinterest for tradition. It's a performance that many overlook because it's not filled with loud, emotional moments. Instead, Logue is goofy, yet subtle, and fun, without being demanding. The perfect role to highlight just one of the many things that Rush can offer.

3. Jeff Bridges for "TRUE GRIT"

Come Oscar time, I fully expect Bridges to earn a nomination in the category of Best Actor. I do not hold to that belief, however. It is my opinion that Bridges is a supporting star, and a damned fine one at that. From the mumbling to the double talk which I can only imagine spawned from too much Dr. Seuss ("I do not know this man" in a can of spam during a wintry scan?), Bridges inhabits every little tick and off-kilter mannerism the Coen Brothers necessitate with their version of Rooster Cogburn.

2. John Hawkes for "WINTER'S BONE"

How it has come to pass that John Hawkes' overlook factor has grown so greatly as of late is beyond my understanding. Sure, the movie was released earlier this year, but only a couple of the roles that have found their way past him are near as prominent. In many respects, that's why I feel the need to feature him so highly on my own list. Not only is he astounding in both subtly and essence capturing, but he provides the film with a much needed seasoned veteran to carry those moments Lawrence can't. Like Rush in The King's Speech, it's lack of flash and bang may turn off voters, but they should forever be shamed for not recognizing the talent involved in bringing such a role to life.

1. Christian Bale for "THE FIGHTER"

It's easy to praise an actor solely for making drastic weight changes. However, from The Pianist to
Philadelphia, it's a proven fact that there's more to gaining an Oscar than looking the part. At face value Bale's Dicky Eklund can come across more caricature than human being. That would be a gross misstatement. With wide, shifty eyes Bale sets Eklund's unbalanced state into motion. The twitches perfectly counter the over the top manner of speech. Hints of narcissism masquerading as laments of glory provide a cascade of emotions, and like a seasoned musician, Bale hits each note with precision.


Honorable Mention:  Michelle Williams, Shutter Island

5. Julianne Moore for "THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT"

Julianne Moore bringing the waterworks is nothing new. Neither is her partaking in a film where she is asked to be a constant object of sexuality and engaging in sexual intercourse. Why? Because nobody plays a repressed lover on the verge of a breakdown better than her. The role of Jules in The Kids Are All Right perfectly fits the Moore mold, and she delivers exactly what is required. The bohemian, free spirited parent counter to Bening's stubborn Nic. Some may say this doesn't dictate praise, but I disagree. Moore plays the character so well, each time she can offer a different look on it. From the dedicated housewife to the idealistic bohemian, she exemplifies it all.

4. Olivia Williams for "THE GHOST WRITER"

My personal lackluster of affection towards Ghost Writer didn't stop me from paying special attention to the always dynamic Olivia Williams. Despite being among some of the great English beauties working in Hollywood today (if The Graduate gets remade she's among the my top 3 ideal choices), she has the range and look for any role. In The Ghost Writer she is asked to carry a wide series of emotions. Volatile, aggressive, sensitive, depressed, longing, manipulative, and she handles each one with grace and determination. It's a great role, and a great performance, which I wish would garner more Oscar discussion.

3. Melissa Leo for "THE FIGHTER"

Alright members of the internet, where is my app with Melissa Leo saying "MTV girl" only a click away!? Alternating between sullen, ill-tempered, and yearning, she tackles the versatile role of Alice Ward, Micky's domineering mothering. With pursed lips, a chicken walk, and the hair to match, Leo entered the hearts of viewers, and spun their wheel of emotions in every which way you can imagine. She's exactly what the film needs her to be, the audience wants her to be, and the demonstrative force in Micky's controlled life.

2. Jacki Weaver for "ANIMAL KINGDOM"

If you blink during her screen time in the vibrant and intense Animal Kingdom, you may just miss the brilliance of Weaver. Her cold, manipulative, overtly affectionate ways set the tone for the distinctly frigid Australian film. The way she controls everyone around her without even the slightest hint of doing so is perfect. Janine is a force to be reckoned with, and if you take your eyes off her for a second you'll find she doesn't need you. The only thing she truly loves in this world are her sons. They are her everything. Weaver nails it beyond compare, and should be a more heavily featured Oscar contender.

1. Barbara Hershey for "BLACK SWAN"

How it has come to pass that Mila Kunis is a more viable Oscar contender than Barbara Hershey for the same film lies in a realm far beyond my mental comprehension (I suppose cunnilingus will take you places after all...). Don't get me wrong, I believe Kunis is fine, but Hershey is on a whole other level entirely. Psychotic, controlling, demanding, but at the same time caring, Hershey is the feature representative of the domineering mother character that helped define many great 2010 roles (see above two). Given the opportunity, I would break down the film into just her roles, entitle it a short, and just watch her over and over again. I'm of the opinion that while Portman is great, Hershey is the definition of perfect.

Well ladies and gentlemen, that about does it for this week's LiE Awards installment. I do hope to have Lead Acting and Directing over to you all before the next week is out. Then of course, my top 10 films of 2010 (hopefully before they become too irrelevant).

Be sure you toss me your feedback on who you believe should be featured here! Keep in mind, due to release dates, there are several prominent films I've yet to see.

10 better thoughts:

Lesya Khyzhnyak said...

Interesting thing about True Grit: some people believe Bridges is a leading actor, others state he's a supporting man here. The same with Hailee forgot-her-last-name. As I see this duet, I think Bridges is a lead, and she is supporting. But the line between leading and supporting is indeed vague. Recall The Reader.

Agree with you on overrating of Kunis. I also think she is fine, but I can't get why she got the nod at the Globes.

Glad, you named Bale the best supporting actor and pointed out that he deserves it not because of weight loss. There's much more in that part.

Fletch said...

Amen to you and Lesya for the Kunis thing. I said it before and I'll say it again: she's fine, but does nothing worthy of a nom in my eyes. There are tons better options for Supporting Actress - not even counting the ones in Black Swan!

Glad to see some more Olivia Williams love - I gave her a vote in my Lions for LAMBs ballot as well.

LOL at that Bridges video.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

An auspicious group, nice to see some less feted performances getting the mention.

(PS. Because I'm lazy, it would be nice if you'd link to your reviews of these films. It'd make it sooooooooooo easier for me.)

Jason H. said...

Great choices! I totally agree with all but one of them - I'd say that Moore was a lead, not supporting, but you nailed the greatness of her performance! I guess the category is in the eye of the beholder, right?

Univarn said...

@Lesya In my eyes the reason people like Kunis and Adams build steam over the likes of Hershey and Leo is simple: Celebrity power. The media doesn't want to spend a lot of time (because they assume their audience is stupid) on people their audience may not have heard of. Therefore they dedicate it to the ones they have, and Kunis/Adams gets all the publicity. I argue it's the same reason Bullock and Streep did so well last year.

@Fletch Williams is pure awesome. If you ever watch her do an interview, she kills it.

@Andrew I've reviewed all of them but Animal Kingdom (which I will do next week for its DVD release. But, I've added all the links anyways :). Will keep it in mind to do that next week for the acting and directing.

@Jason H. I had a lot of trouble this year with the line between supporting and leading. Hailee Steinfeld for example is listed as a supporting, but I see her as leading. So, when I made this list I thought a lot about Moore and decided to just stick her in supporting. The reason - I felt as if Bening had a great effect on the emotional flow of a film, and I wasn't about to list both as being the lead.

Simon said...

Barbara Hershey should win everything ever.

Candice Frederick said...

agreed! very strong supporting performances that almost carried their perspective movies at times.

Aiden R. said...

Right there with ya' on John Hawkes and Christian Bale. Thinkin' Bale's got that Oscar in the bag and I hope that Hawkes at least gets nominated. And good point about Hershey, she really got overshadowed by Kunis on that one, think it has to do with no one knowing that Kunis could act. But Melissa Leo was a beast as that mom and I really need to see Animal Kingdom. GOD, I feel like I missed out on so many little gems this past year.

filmgeek said...

I have a ridiculous girl crush on Emily Blunt and she is the only reason I bothered to sit through The Wolfman and Wild Target - although she's not quite enough of a draw for me to see Gulliver's Travels. Her presence made the otherwise terrible films slightly more bearable. Can't wait to see her get back to form with The Adjustment Bureau though

Marc said...

Haven't seen "Kids", "Kingdom" or "The Fighter" so I can't accurately comment but I think Rush would get my vote for the Guys. I'll get back to you on the Women:P

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