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Best Actress in Limited or Cameo Role

'There are no small parts'
 Carrie Preston
"Barbara Bofferd"
DUPLICITY
 Melanie Lynskey
"Munch Garnett"
AWAY WE GO
Catherine Keener
"Mom"
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
Jane Lynch
"Dorothy McWilliams"
JULIE & JULIA
Anita Reeves
"Sonia"
THE MAID
 She's a major plot point, so maybe too big for this category. But she's so vivid, human, funny and pitiable in her two scenes, we couldn't stop thinking about her.
 While the other actors underplayed characters or oversold cartoons, she won curiousity and sympathy with this sad, soulful spin on a melancholy wife.
In well under ten minutes of screen time -- often from Max's distinctly limited POV -- she sketches a struggling single mom and embraces the finale with maternal grace.
Lynch had quite a fab 2009 what with the Glee hoopla and this showcased bit as Julia's sister. Like Streep, she worked wonders with largess of body and joie de vivre.
The Maid nearly meets her belligerent match when Sonia (Reeves in comic/scary battle axe mode), won't turn the other cheek or be easily controlled.
 
Gold: PRESTON Silver: KEENER Bronze: REEVES

Finalists: Amy Landecker was all druggy eyelined carnality in A SERIOUS MAN | Anyone from BROKEN EMBRACES but who to choose between Carmen Machi, Lola Duenas and Rossy DePalma???

Semi-Finalists: Ari Graynor as "Eva Destruction" in WHIP IT | Kristin Wiig as "Paulette" in ADVENTURELAND | Rachel Boston survives a terrible date in (500) Days of Summer.

 

Best Actor in a Limited or Cameo Role

'there are no small parts'
 Robert Duvall
"Old Man"
THE ROAD
Denis Menochet
"Pierre LaPaditte"
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
David Morse
"Colonel Reed"
THE HURT LOCKER
Richard Sammell
"Sgt. Rachtman"
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
unknown
"crying officer"
HUNGER
 Yet another reminder of great loss in The Road's narrative caked in ash and sadness. His eyes mesmeriz even though they're blinded.
 Basterd's ensemble work is great but Menoche'ts internalized turn is the perfect opening partnership for Waltz's extroverted villainy; what a great duet.
So much attitudinal mustachoed machismo here. Is Morse the most under-appreciated chameleon character actor working? He's the "wild man."
He respectfully refuses. Sammell projects such brave defiance that you feel a sickening sympathy for the devil. A potent scene-saving triumph in this overly sadistic chapter.
 Director McQueen makes strong choices. One of them is to focus on this officer's face before during and after savagery as he goes from nerves to fury to regret. A superb bit.
 
Gold: DUVALL Silver: SAMMELL Bronze: MORSE

Finalists: Garret Dillahunt in THE ROAD | Guy Pearce as "Staff Sgt Matt Thompson in THE HURT LOCKER | Matthew Beard as "Graham" in AN EDUCATION

Semi-Finalists: Almost anyone from A SERIOUS MAN. My favorite performance in the film belonged to the Fred Melamed as huggy "Sy Abelman" but he had so many scenes I opted to call him a regular ol' supporting actor | Ralph Fiennes as "Contact Team Leader" in THE HURT LOCKER | I know many cheered for Bill Murray's work in ZOMBIELAND but I didn't see anything particularly amazing. Funny gag, though, for sure.

 

 

Breakthrough Award

 Sharlito Copley
DISTRICT 9
Michael Fassbender
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (and HUNGER)
Tom Hardy
BRONSON
Catalina Saveedra
THE MAID
Sam Worthington
TERMINATOR SALVATION
 It's tough to believe that District 9 was his debut feature. He nailed the heightened existential crisis of the role.
next project: Playing Capt. 'Howling Mad' Murdock in The A-Team should give him a second straight hit.
Television was obviously too small for him. Hunger marked a major arrival. Basterds as follow up was a serendipitous moment gifting him with a populist hit.
next project: Six pictures arriving in the next year or two. He's in demand.
I'm stretching the "breakthrough" definition but his Bronson was so daring and out there that I'm embarassed I hadn't taken note of him before. What else ya got, Tom?
next project: Christopher Nolan's Inception and the father/son drama The Warrior.
While she's been a Chilean TV regular, she made an international movie splash of sorts with her terrific, well observed take on a weary thorny housekeeper.
next project: She's also in the Spanish Oscar submission The Dancer and the Thief
Avatar may have been the behemoth but his cyborg Marcus was the  magnetic (literally and figuratively) saving grace of the ill received sequel.
next project: 3D clashes with CGI titans and the romantic drama Last Night with Keira Knightley
 

Gold: FASSBENDER Silver: SAAVEDRA Bronze: COPLEY

Finalists: Max Records in WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE | Michael Stuhlbarg in A SERIOUS MAN (and AFTERSCHOOL)

Semi-Finalists: Margaret Levieva as "Lisa P" in ADVENTURELAND | Andrew Garfield in THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS

 

Body of Work

 Penélope Cruz
BROKEN EMBRACES and NINE
Michael Fassbender
HUNGER and INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
James Gandolfini
IN THE LOOP and WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
Christopher Plummer
IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS and THE LAST STATION and 9
Meryl Streep
JULIE & JULIA, FANTASTIC MR FOX and IT'S COMPLICATED
 Her hot streak continues. And you might say she's playing three or four characters in these two movies, just to drive the point of her versatility and creative peak home. Más, por favor!
Other than the ridiculously slim frame they share it's tough to see Bobby Sands (Hunger) in Lt. Archie Cox (Basterds) or vice versa. Except of course for that fire in and hunger around the eyes.
 This big bear of an actor was touchingly vulnerable as both a hairy wild thing and a harried lieutenant general. But before you hug him, consider the temper.
 He kept running away this year... from demanding wives (Last Station), needy subjects (9), and the devil's due (Parnassus) but Oscar voters finally caught up to him in the end.
The world's most celebrated actress starred in three comic portraits of marriages, happy and otherwise. In all three cases it's easy to see why her husband worships her.
 

Gold: FASSBENDER Silver: STREEP Bronze: CRUZ

Finalists: Hugh Dancy for ADAM and CONFESSIONS OF A SHOP-A-HOLIC | Carrie Preston for DUPLICITY and THAT EVENING SUN | Matt Damon in INVICTUS and THE INFORMANT

Semi-Finalists: Rupert Friend in CHERI and THE YOUNG VICTORIA | Zoe Saldana in AVATAR and STAR TREK | Kristen Wiig in WHIP IT and ADVENTURELAND | Sam Worthington in AVATAR and TERMINATOR SALVATION

 

Best Individual Line Reading

 Penélope Cruz
"Carla"
NINE
Bob Peterson
"Dug"
UP
Xosha Roquemore
"Joann"
PRECIOUS
Emma Thompson
"Headmistress"
AN EDUCATION
Christoph Waltz
"Hans Landa"
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

 "I'll be waiting for you. With my legs open."

She's even deadpan funny in English now. The peak years continue.

"I hid under your porch because I love you."

Perfectly pitched for maximum simplicity and sincerity. Both laugh out loud and heart-bursting. Man's Best Friend indeed.

"My favorite color is flourescent beige and I'm here to get my G.E.D."

So so funny and real. Sass and humor to get by.

"You're not a woman."

It takes an actress as formidable as Thompson to cut through the film's fawning on Jenny. She lashes out with vinegary defense...and truth.

"That's a BINGO! Is that how you say it? 'That's a BINGO?"

Hilarious and mocking and personable all at once. How does he work so much character into every scene?

 

Gold: ROQUEMORE  Silver: WALTZ Bronze: THOMPSON

Finalists: Literally anything Mo'Nique says in PRECIOUS, a performance for the all time lists.

Semi-Finalists: "I love you. But I shouldn't have married you." Meryl Streep in FANTASTIC MR FOX. | You have to love Joey's "roses are red, violets are blue, fuck you whore" and Zooey's "What always happens. Life." both from (500) DAYS OF SUMMER | "It was a beautiful piece of magic, wondrous to behold." Jim Broadbent in HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE.

 

Best Ensemble Work

DUPLICITY
THE HURT LOCKER
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
IN THE LOOP
 WHIP IT

 Owens, Roberts, Giamatti, Wilkinson, O'Hare, Preston, etcetera

The stars shine and the supporting cast sparks brightly to the intricate games.

Renner, Mackie, Geraghty, Fiennes, Morse, Pearce, Camargo, etcetera

The three men carefully delineate their sergeants. The cameos are vivid.

Waltz, Laurent, Kruger, Pitt, Fassbender, Roth, Schweiger, etcetera

The Europeans are so uniformly strong you almost don't even need the Basterds.

Capaldi, Addison, Hollander, Chlumsky, Kennedy, Gandolfini, etcetera

Razor sharp and rapid fire comedy and not a one of them misses a beat.

 Page, Harden, Barrymore, Wiig, Lewis, Shawkat, Stern, Graynor, etcetera

Even the losers are winners in Drew's generously directed gem.

 

Gold: IN THE LOOP Silver: INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS Bronze: THE HURT LOCKER

Finalists: The dour villagers of THE WHITE RIBBON | The resilient women of PRECIOUS

Semi-Finalists: The Brawnes and their visitors in BRIGHT STAR | the obsessive hard-eyed men of PUBLIC ENEMIES | Heirs of the estate in SUMMER HOURS | It takes a village to give AN EDUCATION | employers and 'the help' in THE MAID.