Sunday, 17 February 2013

Encore Awards (2012 in Review): Forgotten Characters


I’m considering blessing my “Forgotten Characters” shenanigans with a new name since I always end up going through so much back and forth in deciding who and what qualifies. Acting from the sidelines is too long a name, but that’s probably the best definition I can think of because when I look at my ballot all of the performances aren’t necessarily bit roles but they’re all removed from the main thrust of their films but for various reasons they’ve stuck with me. And, since

Previous Citations in this category:
2011: Alison Pill in Midnight Paris (Runner Up: Audra McDonald in Rampart)
2010: Rashida Jones in The Social Network (Runner Up: Michelle Williams in Shutter Island)
2009: Matthew Beard in An Education (Runner Up: Mare Winningham in Brothers)
Sometimes I have this weird tendency to end up throwing performances in this category when I find I can’t justifiably include them in a Supporting Performer ballot. But, at its best, I love this category because some performances that I know I wouldn't discuss otherwise manage to get some space dedicated to them. Beard's Graham is still one of my favourite incidental bits of An Education, for example.

Here's what 2012 had to offer.

(Click on photos for review where available.)

THE NOMINEES

Adam Brody in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (as Owen)
In a film that manages to dole out lots of great opportunity for laughs amidst the unavoidable sadness of its end Brody is the most effective landing some great laughs just when the film needs it He’s pushing the “loafer boyfriend” type as far as it can go and eliciting some genuine humour from the most familiar of tropes constantly willing to make fun of himself for the good of the film. He leaves early but we fondly remember his silliness throughout.

HIGHLIGHT: The entire scene where he meets Carrell’s Dodge is perfectly played from the “Who the fuck are you?” to the tearful “Jesus, you’re fucking her, aren’t you?” to the “What does he have a job? Mr. Job!”

Paul Dano in Looper (as Seth)
He turns a character that principally exists as a means of foreshadowing the main plot into a performance which, in its unhinged way, lingers in the mind long after he disappears. He plays Seth’s foolishness in such a fine way that even as we shake our heads at his idiocy the obviously suggested tragedy isn’t easier to watch when his pleas for survival are so earnest.

HIGHLIGHT: That lamenting plea for Joe’s help is hard to watch, especially because Dano – never fearful of going for the histrionic when necessary – is so effective in turning what was previously a “cool” futuristic lark into something worrisome and overly disturbing.

Samuel Joslin in The Impossible (as Tomas)
In a year of great debuts I’m especially curious to see what comes of Joslin’s career. The film is most interested in the trio of mother, father and oldest son but Joslin as the middle-child popping up throughout manages to effectively hold his own against his celebrated adult co-stars and offers such a deft take on childhood amidst the trauma.

HIGHLIGHT: I’m partial to his “I can’t – I’ve never looked after someone before. I’m scared” to McGregor which so nails what a traumatic experience the disaster is for even the most resilient child but it’s his brilliant line-reading of “They’re dead aren’t they?” opposite Geraldine Chaplin that signals a maturity beyond his years.

Bill Magnussen in Damsels in Distress (as Thor)
He offers such a spirited take on the college idiot inviting us to poke fun at Thor’s exasperating stupidity while challenging us to not find him sympathetic despite it. He’s excellent at bringing spirited inflections to Stillman’s words but is even more effective at being humorous with his reaction shots.

HIGHLIGHT: Any random moment from his performance would work. His “That’s education!” monologue is so effectively humorous whilst suggesting so many wiser things underneath and his emotional response to the rainbow is one of the brightest examples of how underneath all the satire Stillman’s film has a warm and beating heart.

Tilda Swinton in Moonrise Kingdom (as Social Services)
Tilda brilliantly uses her own ethereal “Swinton-ness” to produce this almost mystical concept of an institution that’s part bureaucracy, part supervillain (with a cape!) and all awesome. Social Services straight-laced ways are such a great contrast to the madness on the island and Swinton beautifully telegraphs her disbelief at the disorderly shenanigans while never becoming an overt villain and while being consistently hilarious.

HIGHLIGHT: She’s great with the lines, yes, but the performance turns into something better with specific decisions she takes with pauses. A prime example the significant pause and tilt of the head when Scout Master Ward asks (of Juvenile Refuge), “Is that an orphanage?”

FINALISTS: Bob Balaban for expert comedic timing with his delivery in Moonrise Kingdom; Connie Britton for easy humour and charm amidst the imminent apocalypse in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World; Dan Futterman for subtly but effectively telegraphing slick assholery in Hello, I Must Be Going; Laura Dern for fleshing out a non-character with adroit skill in The Master; Ann Mitchell for endorsing the film’s main tragedy but still pulling attention to her personal plight in The Deep Blue Sea; Sönke Möhring for underplaying his personal dilemma and being equal parts jealous and happy for our protagonists in The Impossible; Julia Stiles for with expert line-readings shifting the focus of the narrative in Silver Linings Playbook

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Melanie Lynskey in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World; Johnny Miller in 21 Jump Street

Do you remember any of the five from my ballot fondly? Which forgotten 2012 turns would you be most eager to make a case in defense of?

4 comments:

Squasher88 said...

Yay for Samuel Joslin. The Impossible has such fine child actors.

Amir said...

Terrific write-up.
I think if I made a list like this Olivia Munn would be my number 1, but I'm not sure if she fits within your guidelines.

Ryan T. said...

I kept looking for Miller since your post a few days ago confirmed that *I* had totally forgotten about his awesome character work in 21 Jump Street. But there he is as a honourable mention! Your other picks were great, but way to point out Joslin. Those damn doe eyes!

As for other forgotten characters, I have the worst memory so I'm not even sure who I would say. Off the top of my head perhaps Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty), Mae Whitman (Perks of Being a Wallflower), and Olivia Williams (Anna Karenina).

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

shane don't you want to see holland's career take off? he's SOOOOO good leading that film!

thanks amir munn might just be regular supporting since everyone seems to remember her. i didn't love her as much as you, but i find her generally charming. hope she gets better stuff as her career grows.

ryan whitman barely missed my top 5 supporting women. LOVED her subtle snark.