2009: Best Supporting Actor

3 03 2010

My celebration of this year’s Academy Award-nominated performances continues with a look at the Best Supporting Actor category.

It’s an interesting mix, but I’ll try not to treat them as numbers or as candidates.  They are actors, and they give performances.  The Oscars become a political race, but I think it’s time to relax and remember 2009 simply as it was: a great year at the theater.

Matt Damon in “Invictus”

IN MY OWN WORDS: “The urgency with which [Damon] sets out to transform rugby into something more than just a game for his team is played with an ardent and admirable intensity.”

He’s here because … he had a great year, playing two completely different characters, and he is a well-liked and popular actor.

Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”

He’s here because … he is a character actor who has gone too long unnoticed and under appreciated, and it is time for his moment in the sun.

Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”

He’s here because … he is a fantastic aging actor who had never been nominated before this year, and it was time to correct the crime.

Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”

He’s here because … he’s a well-liked actor who showed his versatility this year, and he has sympathy after the sad loss of his wife to cancer earlier this year.

Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

IN MY OWN WORDS: “[Waltz] makes Landa very eerie, nearing the level of Javier Bardem in ‘No Country for Old Men,’ but he is also quite likeable and somewhat charming despite the atrocious deeds he commits.”

He’s here because … he is absolutely spellbinding and commanded the screen every time he graced it.

Marshall’s “Oscars”

It’s a little tough for me to gauge how well the Academy did with this category because at this moment, I have only seen two of the five nominated performances.  However, the two that I did see (Waltz and Damon) both made my list.

As for the other three, it’s a bit of an eccentric collection.  First, I would like to honor the snubbed Alfred Molina for his role as Jenny’s father in “An Education.”  Last year, I spoke on my strong support for his performance:

“Among the ensemble, the real standout is Alfred Molina as Jenny’s father.  Despite being a stern authoritarian when it comes to educational matters, Molina brings an all-encompassing charm that lets us know that he cares for her greatly (but with the values of a fading generation).  His presence lends a warm feel to the movie that blends well with all the other pleasant sentiments the movie radiates.”

Another actor who made my list is not a conventional Academy pick (and thus he finds a home here): Alec Baldwin for “It’s Complicated.”  Other than perhaps “The Hangover” guys, I can’t think of any one actor who made me bust a gut so hard in 2009.  In my review, I raved of Baldwin:

“The real comedic spirit of the film comes from Alec Baldwin, who plays the overbearing fun-lover with such energy that he steals the screen every time he appears on it.  Motivated by little other than carnal desires, [his character’s] every move is fairly anticipated, but Baldwin’s zeal and verve prevent them ensure that they are always hysterical.”

For my final nominee, I debated including Paul Schneider for his role as poet John Keats’ friend in “Bright Star” as well as Stephen Lang for his muscling role as tough-as-nails marine in “Avatar.”  But after some thought, I decided that the spot deservingly goes to Nicholas Hoult for playing an overly interested student in “A Single Man.”  At first, I found myself quite annoyed by the character.  But as soon as I got over that, I discovered that a great performance lay underneath:

“The real acting standout is the young Nicholas Hoult as George’s overly inquisitive pupil, Kenny.  The script only feeds him obsequiously sexually inviting lines, and it’s hard to overcome that.  But Hoult understands the nature of his character and allows him to progress from somewhat creepy to somewhat of a guardian angel for George (look no further than his giant white sweater).”

So, at Marshall’s Oscars, the nominees would have been…

Alec Baldwin, “It’s Complicated”
Matt Damon, “Invictus”
Nicholas Hoult, “A Single Man”
Alfred Molina, “An Education”
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”

Predictions:

Should win: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”
Could win: Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”
Will win: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”

The only way Waltz loses here is if the voters feel like they need to give Plummer a “career achievement” Oscar. But even that doesn’t seem likely after Waltz’s steamrolling through this season.


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3 responses

4 03 2010
Branden

My list would have been Christoph Waltz, Anthony Mackie, Matthew Goode, Peter Sarsgaard and Alfred Molina.

4 03 2010
Marshall

I’m ignoring obvious category fraud and placing Sarsgaard in LEAD.

4 03 2010
Dreher Bear (...Where The Buffalo Roam)

What can i say? I’m going WITH the grain, but for good reason. Christoph Waltz did a terrific performance as Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds. He was able to pull it off so naturally.

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