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Halfway 2012. Supporting Actors (Thus Far)

We're surveying the "best" of the year thus far even if the pickings are slim. Previously we covered Actress, Actor and Picture. Now, the gentlemen in the sidelines.

SUPPORTING ACTOR  January through June Releases
Surveying what we've seen so far in this particularly category is challenging. In ensemble pieces from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to To Rome With Love, there just wasn't a breakout performance that rose so far above the film's limitations that you had to praise it. Mark Ruffalo's funny Hulk and Michael Fassbender's suave killer in The Avengers and Haywire respectively came closest but were better showcases for the commanding charisma of the actors than their actual skills. So if I had to turn in a ballot RIGHT NOW (god forbid) it'd go like so... 

Explanations and Team Experience survey  if you click to continue...

  • Michael Fassbender, Prometheus
    For David8 or as Jose renames him: "creepy/sexy HAL 9000 redux". We already discussed his Oscar chances and despite universal acclaim, I kind of doubt it
  • Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike (discussed in the review)
  • Alex Pettyfer, Magic Mike
    You may recall that Pettyfer featured prominently in my Cinematic Shame column for the worst of 2011. I'm more surprised that anyone at how authentic he reads in this film as a naive hard partying guy swept up in an exciting new lifestyle.
  • Jeroen Perceval, Bullhead  [not eligible for Oscar consideration] 
    He wears a tough guy henchman poker face well but Perceval, who plays a grown man who was friends with the title character in childhood, succeeds at contouring a full character underneath with divided loyalties and a lifetime of guilt and secrecy.
  • Bruce Willis, Moonrise Kingdom
    Willis has been handsomely rewarded for his enduring career but he still hasn't really ever gotten his due as an actor. He's so adept at shifting his own formidable stardom to fit whatever genre or filmmaker he's working with. He jumps right into Anderson's odd diorama world with weary good hearted ease. 

 This list was so hard to draw up that I relished hearing what Team Experience would say when I asked them to name the best Supporting player:

Michael says: Tom Hiddleston in the Deep Blue Sea offers terrrific support for Rachel Weisz in a very tricky role, simultaneously believable as both the impossibly charming man who attracts her and the aloof, cruel man who destroys her.."

<= Beau says: "Fran Kranz - The Cabin in the Woods. For nailing the tone of the film seemingly without effort. For the creation of a colorful character you feel a deep and abiding love for. For a star turn so confident and integral to the success of the film, you can't imagine the picture without him in it."

Craig says: Michael Fassbender - Prometheus... Rarely has a robot been given such varied nuance on screen. Thanks to Fassbender's crucial ambiguity we are constantly left with tantalising questions about David's motives. Plus, he can flick from steely cold to darkly humorous in a heartbeat.

Alexandra says: Michael Fassbender, Prometheus who managed to out-android Lance Hendrickson and Ian Holm, stealing the film easily.

Glenn says: I suspect Michael Fassbender in Prometheus will be a cliched answer, but it's not his fault that nobody else has even attempted to be seated anywhere near a table across the room from him. He's the stand out so far by *that* much! 

Who is on YOUR ballot? I mean, apart from Fassy¹ as David⁸

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Reader Comments (25)

I haven't seen bullhead yet but otherwise my ballot would be very close to yours, Nathaniel. Fassbender for sure.

On another note, Fran Kranz is by far my least favorite part of Cabin in the Woods, and I have tried ever since to imagine how much better it would've been with a better actor in that role. Too broad.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCasey Fiore

best by far this year is fassbender in prometheus.

i'd pick tim hiddleston (the deep blue sea), mark ruffalo (the avengers) as distant runners up

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Papa

If only Prometheus wasn't a sci-fi film, otherwise Fassy would be a shoo-in. We may have to wait for 12 Years a Slave for his 1st nomination.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I'd have to go with Jeremie Renier for The Kid with a Bike. In a few short minutes, we learn so much about him, what kind of father he is and how the titular boy could be so confused about his dad's affection.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Z

I agree with 4 of your 5. I didn't see Bullhead. Perfect picks.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Bruce Willis- Moonrise Kindom
Dwight Henry-Beasts of The Southern Wild
Matthew McConaughey- Magic Mike
Bill Murray-Moonrise Kindom
Bill Nighy- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I might be tempted to take out Nighy or Murray for Fassbender but Fassbender is in my sixth spot right now. The two I'm rooting for the most in this race are WIllis and Henry right now. I can't remember a movie that I love Willis more in. He steals quite a bit of scenes out from some of his other actors so I think deserves a reward for that also seeing that this is one of the best movies in years in my opinion.

Dwight Henry is also phenomenal and BOTSW is such an original and outstanding piece of filmmaking if it gets any traction come oscar season, I think he should get some recognition.

6. Michael Fassbender- Prometheus
7. Benicio Del Torro- Savages
8. Idris Elba- Prometheus
9. Tom Hiddleston- Deep Blue
10. Tom Wilkinson- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I know Idris Elba could confuse some people but if you left that movie NOT thinking he was badass then you clearly weren't paying attention. I think his role should have been bigger because if given more screen time he could've have made Captain Janek an iconic hero...that and if the movie had been a little better.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterL.Morr

1) Michael Fassbender in Prometheus

2) Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony


Pretentious much? Kranz is by far the best part of the film. The entire film is broad. That's the f'ing point.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthatguy

Prometheus - Michael Fassbender. Absolute yes.

Moonrise Kingdom - Bruce Willis. I loved seeing this subtlety, in the midst of all the Expendables and Die Hard sequels.

A Royal Affair - Mikkel Boe Følsgaard. I'm gonna be that person waving a flag for him all the rest of the year I suspect. But really, he was just so great.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmes

Seth MacFarlane as Ted

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

Unless The Deep Blue Sea was somehow re-shot/re-edited from the AFI European Film Festival last year (where it was overwhelmingly disliked - I have never heard boos in a movie theater before), I don't see how The Deep Blue Sea and Oscar can appear in the same article.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

thatguy--Can you explain how Casey's post is pretentious? Seriously, do people just use that word as some sort of shorthand for "I disagree with you" now? No one ever seems to use it in a way that actually matches its definition.

Full disclosure: I totally agree with Casey. Kranz annoyed the hell out of me in that movie, as he has in almost everything else I've ever seen him in. I felt zero "deep and abiding" love for him and was disappointed by the movie's turn of events.

I'm a little surprised at people backing Tom Hiddleston for The Deep Blue Sea. For me, Simon Russell Beale is by far the better of the two supporting men.

1. Jon Hamm in "Friends with Kids" (if only for his truly toxic rant during the dinner scene)
2. Bruce Willis for "Moonrise Kingdom"
3. Tom Wilkinson for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
4. Edward Norton for "Moonrise Kingdom"
5. Simon Russell Beale for "The Deep Blue Sea"

Fassbender would be my number 6.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

So interesting! I didn't know there was so much divisiveness regarding Kranz!

I loved Fassy, as always, but Kranz made that movie so thoroughly enjoyable for me that I reveled in every moment he was onscreen. I agree that the film was meant to be broad, but I genuinely appreciate the dialogue. Always important to see things from another angle. :)

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

Dwight Henry has been cast in the next Steve McQueen film. I haven't seen Beasts of the Southern Wild, but that's a really good sign! Sounds like an Oscar contender to me.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

Liz - I could only pick one and I gave Hiddleston extra points for navigating such a complex role, but you are correct, Beale is wonderful in Deep Blue Sea

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C

Fassbender would be my number 6.

Exactly, he could be my number 6 and I could be his number 9 ;)

I haven't seen many of the contenders here or in the best actor category, but hell I'd love to see those red carpet events just to see so many attractive guys. It's not going to happen, unfortunately. Pettyfer, Tatum and Mc?? Mmm, they could hire them for the show, but I doubt they're going to be nominees. If Gosling and Fassbender couldn't, being more critically acclaimed... and given how academy wants its actors older.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

I'm glad you point out Pettyfer in Magic Mike. It's a surprisingly subtle turn - you know everything that he's going through without him overplaying anything. His virgin striptease is hilariously sweet and dopey but his gung-ho commitment to learning how to perform (in the dance studio scene, as you so astutely pointed out) shows you why Tatum and McConaughey would think he has potential.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

All the adults were absolutely great in Moonrise Kingdom. I'd throw in Edward Norton for being absolutely hilarious at times. His sense of self-importance and swelled chest as he struts around the camp. Also, I laughed really hard the first time he addressed "Lazy Eye."

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Surprised no one else is arguing Fassbender as lead. He's clearly the co-lead of the film, to my eyes, but whatever. Agree he's outstanding, certainly.

Since everyone else has already highlighted all the Moonrise Kingdom folks, my pick is Jemaine Clement in Men in Black 3. The movie is a lot better than I'd thought it would be, and Clement's gonzo performance as the villainous Boris the Animal is a big reason why.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Nobody is arguing Fassbender as lead because he already (unfortunately) has a snowball's chance as supporting given the Academy's bias against genre films. There is NO WAY he'd get in lead this year.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I guess I'll have to go see Prometheus again, since I just don't understand all this Oscar-nomination love for Fassbender! I mean, he manages to make his performance nuanced and he expresses a lot with his eyes. But the face is so mask-like, so "empty".
He does not convey emotions with his eyes the way Gary Cooper did. I like him as an actor and he should have been nominated for Shame, but -come the end of the year- I don't think he'll show anywhere in my list.

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

You do realize he played an artificial being, correct? Was his face supposed to be wild and animated? The brilliance and subtlety of his performance came in the smallest nuance of a muscle around his mouth, or a swallow of his throat. For instance, the scene where he reacts to Weyland's pronouncement that he has no soul? One of the most real and powerful moments in the film. The restraint with which Fassbender reveals the existence of David's (damaged) ego is mesmerizing.

Yours is literally the strangest criticism I've ever read.

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark

4rtful: And if a bunch of Actors suddenly come out saying "hey, wait a minute. We haven't nominated a pure voice or mo-capped performance. We must be nuts", I could see Seth getting the supporting nom (even if he's almost certainly one of THREE lead performances), especially as the film has some passionate lovers, including ROGER EBERT. However, since actors are, supposedly blanketly, "these roles are for paychecks" (even if some of the voice perfs actors release for Pixar are some of the best stuff they've ever done (Ellen DeGeneres in Finding Nemo, Holly Hunter in The Incredibles and Peter O'Toole in Ratatouille (who hadn't gotten a film role that meaty (even if it IS wholly vocal) in, what, twenty years?) being especially notable as career peaks) I guess it just couldn't happen and anyone who is hoping is entirely delusional and wrong for hoping?

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

MY lineup:

.Benicio Del Toro - Savages
-Michael Fassbender - Proemtheus
-Tom Hiddelstone - The Deep Blue Sea
-Dwight Henry - Beasts of the Southern Wild
-Matthew McConaughey - Magic Mike

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon

Oh, with Fassbender winning and McConaughey being the runner-up

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon
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