Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Encore Awards (2010 in Review): Forgotten Characters (Finale)

This was the first real feature I ever had on this blog, and it’s sort of my favourite so I think it’s fitting that I include it as the first of my miscellaneous categories to kick things off in remembering 2010 in film. As it stands I’ve seen just below 70 films, and it looks like I’ll be unable to get a look at some elusive ones before I unveil my awards – which is unfortunate, but not disastrous. I’ll persevere nonetheless.
I don’t think I’ve ever really cared to explicitly define what qualifies as a forgotten character. In the actual series I’ve covered performances like Ethan Hawke in Training Day – who was forgotten, even though he’s the film’s protagonist and I was tempted to include actors like Lucas Black – who was a necessity in Get Low, in a strong supporting role, but who’s been forgotten almost everyone or Matt Damon in True Grit, who’s not quite exceptional but has gotten almost no recognition for his stoic LeBoeuf. But, ideally, a forgotten character is one of those characters coasting on the sidelines of the narrative, and in their thankless roles become forgotten when the film succeeds. They’re sometimes necessary as the impetus for certain plot-points but because they’ve been written in such a way they never get to be more than a flat character (on paper at least). Some actors can make that work for themselves, though. So, my official Encore Awards begin with a miscellaneous category.

Sally Hawkins in Never Let Me Go (as Miss Lucy)
In a way Hawkins’ natural cadence seems all wrong for the very serious Miss Lucy, but it’s to her credit that the entire arc at Hailsham seems to depend on her performance. There’s something self-effacing about her without being coy, all the while managing to be that sort of perfect teacher that every child hopes for. She understands enough to play Lucy as a projection of Cathy’s memory, without making her too saccharine, though. (Highlight: Conversation with Cathy.)

Rashida Jones in The Social Network (as Marylin Delpy)
After the credits roll (well, the first time) I couldn’t stop thinking about Jones’ Marylin The thing is I’ve always liked Jones, but I’m not being biased when I think of all the little ticks she imbues in a character that’s barely there on the page. She’s able to show Marylin having that slight star struck response to Zuckerberg but still managing to maintain her professionalism, even if you get the sense that she’s sort of contented in being a little silly at times. (Highlight: Her blink-and-you’ll-miss-it laughter during Eduardo’s chicken scenario.)

Anna Kendrick in Scott Pilgrim vs the World (as Stacy Pilgrim)
Like everything about Scott Pilgrim vs the World, I was unprepared to be as wholly charmed by Kendrick as I was. Even if she seems too aged to be playing Cera’s younger sister her vocal tics and annoying traits – that aren’t so annoying – are just a few parts of the small things that work so well in this movie. She has a firm grip on the character, even if it is sort of the perpetually gossip-y teen that still feels like something fresh. (Highlight: “I’m literally about to leave!”)

Max Minghella in The Social Network (as Divya Narendra)
I like Max Minghella a whole lot, even though I’ve only seen him in one other film. Everyone seems enamoured (rightfully so, I suppose) with Armie “porn star name” Hammer’s performance but I’m even more impressed with Minghella’s work if only because I find him funniest and most sincere. He’s sort of annoying without ever really being annoying, in fact he’s even likeable sometimes. And Hammer sort of loses me when he imbues the Winklevoss’ with those vaguely unlikeable traits unnecessarily, the script is already least infatuated with them. He’s actually trying to make Divya interesting, if not amiable. (Highlight: Tripping over his feet in horror when he sees that The Facebook has gone live.)

Michelle Williams in Shutter Island (as Dolores Chanal)
I’m not certain how much this qualifies because this seems a slight bit more than a small character, but when you really think about it Williams really doesn’t have much of a role. She’s playing a memory, and unlike Mal in Inception even if she does provide the climax of the tale she’s not as constant. But she completely sells it given one of the strongest performances I’ve seen her. (Highlight: The revelation, of course.)

SEMI-FINALISTS: Michael Gambon in The King’s Speech; Artie Hammer in The Social Network; Cherry Jones in Mother & Child; Johnny Simons in Scott Pilgrim vs the World; Mae Whitman in Scott Pilgrim vs the World
So, we begin 2010 in Review in Encore’s World, of the top 5 ultimate forgotten who made the biggest impression on you? Williams’ haunting wife? Kendrick’s droning sister? Or the lone male nominee, Minghella? Which forgotten character of 2010 do you wish would get some love?


Luke said...

Some excellent choices here, Andrew. I'd probably have to go with either Williams (always grippingly disturbing in roles like these) or Hawkins (my favorite peppy gal going a little dark)... Glad to see that Tammy Blanchard came close - I thought she was sort of great out of nowhere when you came to see Kidman/Eckhart/Wiest...

MovieNut14 said...

Are you sure you didn't add Minghella because his dad directed your favorite movie of all time? But still, he was really good. Same with Jones.

Williams was REALLY creepy in Shutter Island. That's a good thing, mind you.

Candice Frederick said...

love that you've got mighella here (who was just as good in the film as armie hammer), and michelle williams as well (good choices!).

Robert said...

AMAZING choices Andrew! Rashida Jones was absolutely wonderful, and I'm glad she was your gold winner. You know how I love Scott Pilgrim so seeing the names of Anna Kendrick, Mae Whitman and Johnny Simmons is very happy-making for me. Though I also think Alison Pill and Mark Webber were forgotten standouts.

Anonymous said...

I thought Jones was the weak link in The Social Network, actually. Maybe her fame from The Office did it to me.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

luke love, love, LOVE blanchard. from her work in that judy garland movie to those thankless lifetime pieces my mother made me sit through (and i like her a little more because she starred opposite bernadette in gypsy and apparently impressed her.)

anna yeah, i'm transparent - no? i hope his father's legacy doesn't prevent him from getting the chance to shine, but i'm glad he's starting off (impressively) in these smaller roles.

candice thank you, THANK YOU!

robert honestly, a top 5 of the scott pilgrim actors would not be terrible. :)

james i love rashida, seriously - i love her. does that make me biased? ummm, i hope not.

Dan said...

Great to see Michelle Williams' performance in Shutter Island recognised. She was truly excellent - like you say - a small but significant role. She's so good that you might think she's a bigger part of the film than her on-screen time allows.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

dan between this and blue valentine i've become a fan of hers. and i'm happy, because she seems like such a nice person - but i never got the hype before; now i do.

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Walter L. Hollmann said...

Minghella probably made the least impression on me, so I guess his showing up on a list of Forgotten Characters is tres appropriate. Jones is one of my favorite parts of The Social Network, so I fully support her win here. Really, I'm shocked they didn't just put her in Supporting Actress ads with Rooney Mara, she was strong, subtle and...supporting.

I'd put in Brie Larson over Kendrick, but the whole ensemble impresses me with each viewing, so I can't fault you here. My one qualm? I agree - Williams' role is too large to be forgotten. Mortimer, maybe? Or Yaya Dacosta, I think. No, definitely DaCosta.