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