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The 10 Most Enjoyable Supporting Performances That Don't Have A Shot In Hell At An Award This Year

By Joanna Robinson and Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | December 20, 2012 | Comments ()


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There was an avalanche of great supporting performances this year. Many of which, of course, are being revisited and reappraised in light of Awards season. And while we can't argue with many of those on nominations lists (Hathaway was incendiary and Hoffman was completely mesmerizing), this here is a different list. This is our list of the most downright enjoyable supporting performances of the year. Do these actors have a shot in h*ll at an award? Not a snowball's. But we want to thank them nonetheless for their stellar work.

Charlize Theron -- Snow White and the Huntsmen -- Snow White and the Huntsmen is absolutely not the kind of film that would receive anything other than MTV awards, and for good reason: It's mediocre genre fare. But piercing through Kirsten Stewart's lip-biting blandness and Chris Hemsworth's pectorals was a scenery-chewing performance from Charlize Theron as Ravenna that was perfect for this kind of summer blockbuster. There was nothing subtle about it, and it certainly wasn't nuanced, but there was a lot of electricity and amaze blaze in that performance, which helped to make Snow White an infinitely enjoyable film to watch, at least while Charlize was laying waste to everyone around her. Sometimes, an actress should simply be given credit for providing what is most needed, even if that's not the kind of performance expected to generate accolades, and Theron bites into that apple and drools talent all over it.

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Fran Kranz -- "The Cabin In The Woods" Maybe it's a mistake to call Kranz a supporting character. *Spoiler Alert* Marty, the stoner comic relief, outlasts the other, more likely leading men. While we've seen glimpses of Kranz's excellent comedic timing and ease with Whedon's humor on "Dollhouse," his performance here was a whole new level of great. Who didn't cheer a little to see Marty stumble out on to the dock? Not just because of his heroics, but because we missed him and his delightfully croaking delivery.

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Bill Nighy -- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel -- There were a lot of celebrated actors and actresses in Marigold Hotel, not least of which were Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, who are welcome presences in any context. But it was Bill Nighy's quiet and reserved performance as a put-upon husband who could maintain a hopeful disposition in the face of his overbearingly glum and cynical wife that stood out. In a movie brimming with sweetness, romance, and delight, it was Nighy's twinkling eyes and soft-heart that made Exotic Hotel one of the crowd-pleasing sleeper hits of the year.

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Rebel Wilson -- Pitch Perfect: Fine comedic actresses are often overlooked (barring the one-two punch of Sorvino and Tomei in the 90s). Last year Melissa McCarthy garnered a lot of deserved attention for Bridesmaids but where in hell are the accolades for Rebel Wilson? The woman was a one-liner powerhouse in the completely adorable Pitch Perfect. With her off-kilter delivery and utterly fearless performance she easily stole every scene she was in. I imagine now that the film is out on DVD, it'll gain an even bigger fan base and hope Wilson's killer performance garners her the lengthy career she deserves.

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Rosemarie Dewitt -- Your Sister's Sister -- Dewitt is one of the most quietly enchanting actresses in Hollywood, and few have yet to fully recognize the way in which she can quietly command the screen with a heart-melting smile. In Sister's Sister, she is asked to make an implausible series of events believable, and she's not only convincing, she manages that extraordinary acting feat in an understated and sexy way that obliterates cynicism and transforms Your Sister's Sister into the best romantic comedy of the year.

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Andy Serkis -- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey I'll continue to argue this point until I'm blue in the face but truly believe that the thing that makes Gollum (and for that matter King Kong and Caesar) such a rare and believable CGI creature comes down to the talented Andy Serkis. Sure, there are scores and scores of talented artists and technicians involved in Gollum's creation, but the reason that poor, creepy little creature is so memorable is because Serkis makes him so. The tense, funny, ominous game of riddles between Gollum and Bilbo is among the finest bit of cinema we've seen all year. So go ahead and acknowledge the technicians, they deserve it. But it's damn frustrating that Serkis and his massively enjoyable work are not getting their due.

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Doona Bae -- "Cloud Atlas" In this beautiful disaster of a film, surrounded by better-known faces and actors, Doona Bae's Sonmi-451 stood out as the most authentic and truly heart-cracking character. (Apologies to Whishaw.) Perhaps because she didn't have any prosthetic make-up to navigate, Bae's range of expression, from wide-eyed delight to profound sorrow to resigned martyrdom, shone steadily in the swirling, jumbled maelstrom of the Wachowski's vision. Aside from some visual and musical nominations, Cloud Atlas is being largely ignored this awards season, and while I understand its many pitfalls and problems, Doona Bae herself was flawless.

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Liev Schreiber -- Goon -- I have no idea what Liev Schreiber was doing in a low-budget hockey movie that barely anyone saw in theaters (but that is generating a cult following on Netflix, thanks in part to this site), but the guy steals every scene he's in as a veteran enforcer clinging gleefully to every blow on his way toward retirement. Goon is the best hockey movie since Slap Shot, and it's Schreiber's minor but central performance that grounds the film and helps to bring it toward its rousing, crowd-pleasing conclusion. He is absolute gold in this.

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Jason Schwartzman -- Moonrise Kingdom Schwartzman's role in Wes Anderson's latest was criminally brief. With apologies to Murray and the blonde Wilson, no one has ever topped Schwartzman when it comes to the dry Andersonian delivery. Moonrise Kingdom was a beautiful piece of cinema and the young stars were enjoyable, but looking at Jared Gilman, one couldn't help but think of Max Fischer. As soon as Schwartzman showed up, the pacing hopped right up into second gear. You can see his delightful deadpan here.

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Christopher Walken -- "Seven Psychopaths" It's hard not to be great when you're working with Martin McDonagh's dialogue. The man is a brilliant storyteller and in this quirky, meta patchwork of a film he tells several great ones. But amidst Sam Rockwell's antics and Colin Farrell's perpetually furrowed brow, Christopher Walken turned in one of his finest performances in an already impressive career. Watching Hans's sweet interactions with his wife, his overwhelming grief, his fearlessness and his gentle humor is an absolute delight. Rockwell may have stolen the show, but if you watch it a second time, Walken is the one you won't be able to take your eyes off of.

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Comments Are Welcome, Douches Are Not


  • kirbyjay

    Much preferred Edward Norton in Moonrise Kingdom. Such an amazingly weird little movie.

  • AudioSuede

    Walken, Rockwell, Tom Waits, Woody Harrelson; Seven Psychopaths was such a tragically underseen movie.

  • eeeeee

    Sure, there are scores and scores of talented artists and technicians involved in Gollum's creation, but the reason that poor, creepy creature is so memorable is because Serkis makes him so.

    As an animator, nothing pushes my berserker-rage button more than stuff like this. Yes, Serkis is very good at what he does. I'm not dismissing his amazing performance. However. deep breath. Can you begin to comprehend the hours upon eons of labor put into transforming guy into Gollum? There must literally actually be millions of pieces that make up that CGI creature you flippantly dismiss as the product of a bunch of people, interchangeable with the hacks that made the plush-puppies on Twilight (which also probably took a bunch of really talented people FOREVER TO MAKE). Voice actors and actual actors add a lot to a CGI performance but it is not just that one person that makes a character believable or human. I realize this is probably not the time or place to spew, but bitch, please. It would've been so easy for them to screw up, and it was infinitely difficult to get right. Mostly not thanks to Serkis. Who is great, so don't even.

  • toobitterforyou

    i will throw in a unconventional one. anybody who actually saw rza's bloodbath of a kung fu movie, "the man with the iron fists," would agree that russell crowe's performance in that was some of this best work.

  • Svanaihlkalicaat

    Really? Theron was terrible. She was the most disappointing thing in a total waste of time. Chewing scenery, screaming randomly, and Vogueing her way through a terrible script as if she had no idea how bad it was or how awful she was. I feel badly for the artists and craftsmen who contributed to the film's beautiful look only to have it overrun by appalling direction, acting, and most of all writing. So much potential in the source material, such a disappointment.

  • Neo

    Salma Hayek in Savages.

  • Shocked

    A Pajiba list that only has one Joss Whedon project mentioned? You guys are slipping.

  • I cannot STAND Schwartzman... only actor I want to punch right in the face. His smug, smug face...

  • Jezzer

    Schwartzman and Anderson are so firmly entangled in my mind that they are one punchable entity to me, to the point where I get angry at Schwartzman for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (with which, if you want to get all technical, he wasn't actually involved), and want to punch Anderson for I <3 Huckabee's (ditto).

  • dizzylucy

    I enjoyed Charlize in Snow White too, and Rebel in Pitch Perfect.
    But I love Schwartzman in Moonrise Kingdom, one of my favorite movies of the year.

  • Khal Mifune

    I agree with most of these. Especially Doona Bae and Liev Shreiber. But I frakking despised that idiot from Cabin in the Woods. Some of his dialogue may have been witty, if it wasn't being spoken by an asshole doing the worst Shaggy impression ever. Before seeing Cabin, I had not considered the skill required to execute a decent stoner performance. But every time Marty came onscreen, I found myself wondering "where's James Franco when you need him?"

  • Mr_Grumpypants

    Jason Clarke in Zero Dark Thirty deserves more attention then he's getting.

  • Ugh, I hated that asshole on Dollhouse. Everything about him bugged the hell out of me from the second he showed up. He wasn't even vaguely funny to me. Bleh. I was annoyed that he made it through.

  • Three_nineteen

    He didn't.

  • Ben

    As an animator the whole Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar thing is bullshit. Anyone who has seen what kind of information and look you get out of motion capture data knows that it's not the actors motions that sell it. It's the animators who work to make that performance good. To recognise him with an oscar for that character is pretty much shitting on the work of all the animators that work on it.

  • AudioSuede

    Uh actually, wouldn't that be vindicating for the animators to know that they basically made the first ever Oscar-winning animated character?

  • eeeeee

    It would be even more vindicating for the animators to, you know, win their own Oscar and garner recognition for their actual work. No celebrity animators though, so.

  • Shy

    Well they spoiled and showed almost all Rebel’s jokes in Pitch Perfect. So she didn’t blow away me in the movie. Because I heard all those jokes in trailers. But she was good.

    Funny but I hated Doona Bae in Cloud Atlas. She was monotone, uninteresting and I didn’t really cared about her. Her friend (the one who waked up first) was a lot more interesting and alive.

  • Rowlebinson does it again! Rebel Wilson for ALLLLL of the Oscars.

  • Milly

    Rebel Wilson was not particularly funny in Pitch Perfect (which is the most enjoyable filum I've watched all year) save for the retort to Bumper at the initiation night.

    I thought Brittany Snow did more with significantly less and really helped the story; especially when it involves that ginger getting her jiggle juice and taking showers with Anna Kendrick.

  • Robert

    I enjoyed Brittany Snow as well, but thought Rebel Wilson stole the show. Her improv was great and she really sang the crap out of her solos. She was probably the best developed of the not-one-joke characters.

  • Col. Kickass

    I feel like I'm the only person in the world that really disliked Moonrise Kingdom. I just don't get it and everyone thinks I'm crazy.

  • AM

    You're not alone. I detested it with nearly every fiber of my being and the fire of 40 suns. Precocious kids, you can jump up my ass. I left the theater longing to slap every single person involved in the conception, making and delivery of this affront to humanity.

  • Andrew

    Javier Bardem ...... there, I said it.

  • Natallica

    "It’s hard not to be great when you’re working with Martin McDonagh's dialogue Christopher Walken". There, I fixed it for you

  • Time for Mr. Walken to be declared a National Treasure.

  • Samantha Klein

    I am sort of wondering if, when Peter Jackson is done with all this Tolkien nonsense, they'll finally give Andy Serkis an Oscar. Probably not, but I wish they would.

  • BWeaves

    Agreed.

  • Robert

    Four of these make my own line-up. Two of them are clear winners. There is no good reason why Christopher Walken shouldn't be getting awards traction this season if Alan Arkin is a default nominee for Argo Fuck Yourself line readings.

  • carrie

    no Michael Caine in TDKR?

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