Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Encore Awards (2012 in Review): Supporting Actor

I came to the epiphany last week that my antipathy towards the Supporting Actor awards’ race this season and the dénouement of that Oscar slate grew from my great appreciation for the supporting performances that never stood a chance. A slate of awards’ contenders that I was mostly disinterested only made the many great performances un-remembered by many critics at the year’s that much more frustrating to remember. Why did X performance go all year with no significant attention, I ask. And X represents any number from 2 to 20. But, what’s what personal ballots are for, making a case for what I like.

I would love to make a ballot of the men who are in my honourable mentions sections even, it's been a fantastic year for the supporting actors.


Mikkel Følsgaard in A Royal Affair as (Christian VII)
Like Field in Lincoln the fits and starts of the character must be finely played and Følsgaard is fantastic changing moods in a blink. He’s more effective than the central romance of the film and he’s so good at playing a not quite hero we feel for him when we see how lost he becomes.

HIGHLIGHT: Many great options from the irritableness as he demands his wife stop playing to him wielding his power in court. But his sheer joy at finding a kindred spirit in his first meeting with Johann points out so clearly how friendless this troubled young man is, and how much something as simple as Shakespeare quotation can move him.

Jude Law in Anna Karenina (as Alexei Karenin)
As Amir noted, 10 years ago he’d be Vronsky. And at 40 he still does not project the image of Alexei in real life making the turn so surprising and effective. He brings depth to the character the role demands (and which previous incarnations lacked) savouring Karenin’s morals as well as the potential tedium of them.

HIGHLIGHT: His line reading of “What did I do to deserve this?” is especially moving, for the poor fool has done nothing. His strongest scene, though, is that scene with Anna after Princess Betsy’s party. Karenin is still uncomfortable (embarrassed? Proud?) to confront the situation and watching him wanting to ask but still hesitant to is such a key entry-point to unromantic Alexei.

Ewan McGregor in The Impossible (as Henry Bennett)
The performance is a battle between father-figure able to withstand disaster for his sons, and devastated man uncertain what to do, and how, to find the rest of his family. Bonus points for, in that brief pre-disaster bit, carving the image of a man who is unexceptional in his regularity but still interesting enough for us to care.

HIGHLIGHT: That harrowing phone call is one of my favourite acting scenes of the year and that McGregor is so moving in such a simple moment is a prime example of how good he is. It’s a throw away moment in theory, but he specifically zeroes in on the fear of the moment. I don’t know where he went to reach that depth of emotion, but the garbled words amidst the sobs is chilling.

Scoot McNairy in Killing Them Softly (as Frankie)
In a film of good actors doing good work McNairy rises to the top. From those first scenes we realise that Frankie is not as bold as he suggests making the payoff of his fate that much more shattering.

HIGHLIGHT: There’s that scene when Cogan sidles closer and closer to Frankie in that bar revealing, but not completely, his purpose. McNairy’s ability to telegraph Frankie’s change  from suspicion to fear to pure terror is wonderful. The ability to pitch a potentially snivelling character with the humanity to make us care is the mark of significant talent. It also reminds me of a previous winner of mine here, Ethan Hawke similarly nuanced and excellent in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

Eddie Redmayne in Les Misérables (as Marius)
Redmayne is doing such a fine job of playing Marius’ youth – the idealism, the lovesick foolishness, the blindness (re Eponine) and even the petulance opposite Enjolras in “Red and Black”. Marius is not an ideal revolutionary but a young man with growing pains. Through Redmayne’s cadence we understand when Valjean sings “he is young, he is only a boy.”

HIGHLIGHT: His “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” is as much a highlight for him as it is for the entire film. Even as his performance throughout is great to watch the moment is so affecting it invites you to reconsider your feelings on the character with the level of emotion he expends in this song of farewell for his friends.

FINALISTS: Simon Russell Beale in The Deep Blue Sea for playing stoic suffering but never being unmoving; Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained for garishness pitches the nth degree without being too broad ; Domhnall Gleeson in Anna Karenina for a senstivie portrayal of a too idealistic man; Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master for being charismatic even during his repulsive moments; Matthew Macfadyen in Anna Karenina for excellently limbering turn as a maverick without a cause, and charming throughout; Ben Mendelsohn in Killing Them Softly for an idiot criminal that manages to fascinate nonetheless; Ezra Miller in The Perks of Being a Wallflower for embodying high-school charm and worldliness but still being childish

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Jim Broadbent in Cloud Atlas; Thomas Haden Church for Killer Joe; Carloto Cotta in Tabu; Tom Hiddleston in The Deep Blue Sea; Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained; Alex Pettyfyer in Magic Mike; Muhammet Uzuner in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia; Ben Whishaw in Cloud Atlas


Squasher88 said...

Nice mention of Mikkel! I actually had him in my top 5 for leading actor performances.

ruth said...

Sooo want to see A Royal Affair. Can't believe I still haven't seen Les Miserables yet. I was impressed w/ Eddie at the Oscar, sounds like he's got quite a strong voice for musicals. I've only seen him in A Week with Marilyn, but I'd like to see more of him.

Amir said...

Stellar lineup.
As you know my favorite performance of the year is Philip Seymour Hoffman, so I'm sad you left him out, and there's no sign of Matthew McConaughey whom I absolutely loved in Magic Mike, but these five men are hard to argue with.