I assume that the entire time you were reading the Halfway Mark Best Screenplays & Pictures you were thinking "get to the actors already!" because, damn you're predictable and also so am I and I love to pay homage to great performances. So, here they are in six categories for your perusal and debate and "I guess I'd better watch that" list-making pleasure.
Best Actor in a Limited or Cameo Role (THUS FAR): Lior Ashkenazi (of Late Marriage fame) temporarily energizes the unfortunately bland Yossi by temporarily attempting to to rub off on and up against Yossi himself with pushy sleaze; James Badge Dale, who also won a nomination in this category at 2012's Film Bitch Awards for Flight, is in every big movie now (World War Z, The Lone Ranger, Iron Man 3) and pretty much great in all of them though the roles are growing exponentially and he's already too large for this category!; Kyle Chandler memorably flips his 'clear eyes, full hearts' image on its head as an absent father in The Spectacular Now; Cheyenne Jackson is robbed of his signature voice entirely in Behind the Candelabra as a disgruntled employee/protege/lover but it turns out he doesnt need it absolutely nailing every tiny gesture and facial expression; and finally, I liked Jamie Sheridan's conflicted big business father in The East.
Best Actress in a Limited or Cameo Role: Hillary Baack, is moving in a key brief role as The East's hearing impaired member; Zoe Kazan wins best in show for a group acting exercize masquerading as a movie called Some Girl(s) with an agonizing backstory; Debbie Reynolds, is a real hoot and unrecognizable in the Liberace flick Behind the Candelabra; Orly Silbersatz Banai adds wonderful depth and shading to her history of denial in Yossi; And in a fine cast in Stoker, Jacki Weaver, makes the most of her tense few scenes as the deservedly worried unannounced visitor Aunt Ginny; and my apologies to Grace Gummer in Frances Ha who I didn't quite have room for but I liked her prickly Ivy League alumna
4 More Acting Category "Bests" after the jump
Best Supporting Actor: You might argue that the atypically engaged and showboating James Franco in Spring Breakers and the typically mesmerizing and internal Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines are leading men but since they're absent from their films for significant sections I'm placing them here; Ben Kingsley's performance in Iron Man Three keeps you guessing even after he's pulled the rug out from under you; Rob Lowe, is disturbingly smooth in both devilish persuasion and waxy appearance in Behind the Candelabra; And Alexander Skarsgård, is beautifully befuddled and sympathetic in What Maisie Knew as a musician/bartender who suddenly discovers a gift for parenting
Best Supporting Actress is where I might lose y'all but here's what I'm going with: Patty Clarkson, is absolutely precise and memorable in The East giving it two of its strongest moments; Elizabeth Debicki, hears "the most shocking news" in The Great Gatsby and that's that they actually cast without fame in mind for this role and she nails it!; Anna Mouglalis, does terrific undead aristocracy and actorly-need in Kiss of the Damned; Gwyneth Paltrow continues to understand the perfect screwball tone for Pepper in Iron Man 3; and Mickey Sumner, is a fine straight man foil to the comic exasperation of Frances Ha; and I'm sure you thought I'd say Nicole Kidman in Stoker but even she couldn't make sense of that weirdly half written character
Best Actor: Gael García Bernal, never misses a chance to lend specificity and soul to his characters and NO absolutely depends on his starpower; Matt Damon & Michael Douglas, are quite entertaining in Behind the Candelabra though I think Damon has the more difficult recessive part; Paul Eeenhoorn, has a deft hand with nuance and subtext in This is Martin Bonner but he withholds at just the right moments, too; and Ethan Hawke, continues to do his best work ever in the franchise that will hopefully go on forever but for right now its' called Before Midnight; and that's the list with apologies going out to Matthew McConaughey and Tye Sheridan in Mud, Matthew Goode in Stoker, Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now, and Jude Law in Side Effects. Yes, it's been quite a good year for leading men already.
Best Actress: Jane Adams, is riveting and unexpectedly self-possessed and sexy in All the Light in the Sky; Onata Aprile, proves herself the most natural child actress since Qu'venzhané in What Maisie Knew; Julie Delpy, is maddening, sexy, intelligent, and verbally and emotionally dextrous in Before Midnight; Greta Gerwig, reaches the peak of her Gerwigness (for now) as the lost creative and restless Frances Ha; and for the last spot I'll admit I couldn't decide between Brit Marling in The East who has an intriguing sort of blankess, like she's waiting to be filled by cult idealogies (or her next assignment) in The East and Carey Mulligan (though I know her performance is divisive) who humanizes Daisy in important ways in The Great Gatsby while also understanding that she's more of an idea and projection than woman. And that voice!
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