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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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Entries in Supporting Actor (100)


Campaign Cocktails: Youth & Spotlight

oh it's just me and Jane. just an average Thursday night.More adventures from Oscar's holiday festive campaign trail. This time the Oscar frontrunner (Spotlight) and an Oscar possibility too many people are sleeping on (Youth)...

Should Jane Fonda ever tell you you have good tastes in movies, it'll get you drunker than whatever cocktail is in your hand. My personal guarantee to you! If, hypothetically speaking, you're a self-proclaimed actressexual cinephile Oscar pundit (ahem) and two of your favorite movies of all time happen to be They Shoot Horses Don't They (1969) and  Klute (1971), and Jane Fonda says this aloud to you, you might feel a little like you've peaked.  Is this real life...?

The 77 year-old American icon, along with her Youth co-stars Paul Dano and Michael Caine were the glitziest guests of Fox Searchlight's holiday party in New York City last week. (If the star's of the company's buzziest contender Brooklyn were at the sprawling extravaganty catered party at the Park Hyatt  -- truffle shavings? why not! --  I unfortunately didn't spot them).

True legends aren't often as accessible as Jane Fonda was at this particular party, gladly taking selfies with multiple fans and chatting about her movies and Youth, too. Many people have referred to Fonda's work in Youth as a "cameo" including probably myself at one point or another and while that might be factually true it's not spiritually true. You'll hear everything from 4 minutes to 9 minutes about her screentime depending on who you're talking to but screentime is rarely an accurate barometer of impact. Youth spends so much time obsessing on her character, the Fonda-like "Brenda Morel" (not coincidentally also a multiple Oscar winning bonafide legend who has recently made a new home in television) that when she arrives it's with the power of a rumbling fault line, tectonically shifting the movie's entire landscape. Youth as a film experience is basically pre-Fonda and post-Fonda in the telling. I fully expect her to be nominated and have for months now.

Paul Dano is the only actor in Youth that is not working some strange voodoo of their own persona fused with character work. He's playing a full fledged movie star best known for a franchise he despises... and though I expected Keitel to be winning the traction as Supporting Actor, it appears that some people are in Dano's corner. He was in good spirits at the party, and possibly filled with spirits from the open bar (sorry, that was me - I'm projecting)  Dano keeps being paired with estimable superstars or genuine acting powerhouses: Day-Lewis, Jackman, De Niro, Caine, Fonda (though he doesn't share scenes with the latter). I asked him if this trend was disconcerting or intimidating for him on set? 'Are you kidding me?' he answered, excited. 'I love it. I hope it'll make me better.' I won't spoil one of Youth's most disturbing surprises which involves Dano's actor character preparing for a new role but I asked him about that soon to be infamous scene. As it turns out he filmed it on his 30th birthday which is now, he admits,  'the weirdest birthday of my life.' 

Thomas McCarthy and Michael Keaton... (photo from the internet, not this particular event)

Less celebrity hobnobbing occurred at the last party I attended in Los Angeles which happened to be for  Spotlight (you know how sometimes you're shy and sometimes you're extroverted? Same) but the "light supper" event was well-attended and the town's love for the movie was palpable. Writer-director Thomas McCarthy was surrounded by well wishers, a nice mix of Academy members (former 80s Best Actress nominee spotted!) and journos the whole night. I did say a brief hello to Michael Keaton who I had met a couple of times during his Birdman run last season. "Welcome to Round Two!" I said stupidly. Was he ready for all this again, so soon? He assured me it felt much different this time -- the pressure was off since it wasn't so focused on him. It's too soon to say if the  "all supporting" Oscar campaign for Spotlight will pay off with the acting branch, but I personally think it was the right call. It's the very definition of an Ensemble Picture. Can anyone beat that team for SAG's upcoming top prize? 



NYFF: Spielberg's frosty Bridge of Spies

Manuel reporting from the New York Film Festival on Steven Spielberg's latest Cold War film.

Bridge of Spies opens with a man working on a self-portrait. There’s a weariness to his features that he’s ably translating from his mirrored reflection onto his canvas. There’s a purpose to every brush stroke he takes. He works methodically. Silently.

Spielberg, long admired for large-scale adventures and expertly crafted action sequences, seems to have entered a quieter phase of his career. While War Horse seemed to play to his strengths, while trying John Ford on for size, the talky Lincoln showed that the director could create a kinetic urgency even in what was, for the most part, a chamber piece about laws and votes. Bridge of Spies pushes further still in this direction. Yes, we’re dealing with spies, and fallen aircrafts, government agents and tense phone calls, but at its heart, this is yet another installment of the Cold War-as-bureaucracy genre. [More...]

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6 Questions. Best Actor / Supporting Actor Races

The Oscar prediction charts are revised for ACTOR and SUPPORTING ACTOR and boy is the competition ever on. Here are 5 questions for you to discuss in the comments and as you consider your own predictions at home. 

1. Is Best Supporting Actor actually stronger than Best Actor this year?
With the decision of Spotlight to run its two arguable leads as supporting (it is an ensemble film so this makes a kind of justified sense... even if a "convenient" kind) and excitement for Johnny Depp's Black Mass star turn already dying down (or is this just our imagination?) the Best Actor race suddenly looks a little thinner than expected and the Supporting Actor race a lot fuller. The category confusions that crop up every year now as well as Hollywood's deep love of all star male ensembles have made things a lot harder for true supporting players of the male persuasion. Years ago, for example, I'd guess that Stanley Tucci had a slam dunk case for his scene stealing in Spotlight and Chiwetel Ejiofor had a real dark horse opportunity as the sympathetic home base of The Martian (think Ed Harris's nominated role in Apollo 13) but I couldn't fit either of them into even the top 15. 

2. Will young actors be in the mix for a change?
While Oscar's love of young women and resistance to young men is well documented on this site (and in any perusal of Oscar stats) two of the most well regarded performance from the recent festival circuit were Abraham Attah, who is only 14, and Jacob Tremblay, who is only 8, who lead Beasts of No Nation and Room respectively. In almost all cases male leads who are very young go supporting with Oscar voters (think Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People, River Phoenix in Running on Empty, and Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense) though their female counterparts are harder to predict in terms of which category they might find traction in. Still I wonder if anyone will believe Attah as "supporting?" In the recent IndieWire TIFF poll we discussed -- which provides a good example of how few critics care about "category" distinctions -- Tremblay was very high up in the supporting votes (despite being the only male star of his two-hander movie) whereas Attah was high up in the leading charts despite playing opposite a pretty big star of the same gender in Idris Elba, who himself had extremely few leading votes (they were mostly supporting) which suggests to me that people won't ever think of Attah as supporting Elba but the other way around. 

3. Both male acting categories won't clear up until...?
Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight starts screening. Or perhaps you think the key film is another film entirely.

4. Which actor do you think has a better shot at winning (if nominated) than he does at actually being nominated?
My guess is Harvey Keitel in Youth. His film director/best friend feels like a supporting character, at least until he takes over the movie for about 20 minutes or so. You could make an easy case that he's more overdue for Oscar gold than the Spotlight boys for example. But maybe you feel this odd distinction goes to someone else in either lead or supporting - Dicaprio perhaps.

5. Do you think Oscar statistics will get a shake up this year?
The last time two men from the same film were nominated in the same category is quite a long time ago now though it didn't use to be all that rare. Two supporting actors happened in Bugsy (1991) 24 years ago. Two lead actors happened in Amadeus (1984) 31 years ago. Three supporting (male) actors nominated for the same film happened thrice, first with On the Waterfront (1954) and then twice over with The Godfather parts 1 and 2 (1972/1974)... could Hateful 8 or Spotlight actually make it a fourth? (Since 1991 the only category that has seen any double nominations in acting -- and it's happened a lot -- is Supporting Actress.)

6. If you had to vote for your own supporting actor ballot RIGHT NOW (preferences not predictions) who would you include?
It's a tough call but I'd be looking at these 11 names (Brolin, Del Toro, Elliott, Ejiofor, Tucci, Schreiber... and the guys from the best of summer in review) and these 2 if I decided to allow for the supporting distinction (Keaton & Keitel), category distinctions I'm still having internal debates about.


An IndieWire TIFF Poll

We'll wrap up our TIFF coverage tomorrow with the full index of reviews for now I wanted to point you to IndieWire where they've published their "best of TIFF" critics survey and the results are interesting but also disheartening since they remind us that US critics rush to films that are about to open rather than to films without distributors when they hit festivals. (I'll never understand this really.) They also don't seem to care about foreign language films - only one picture from their entire top collective top ten is in a foreign language (Hungary's Son of Saul) and you have to go down into the #13 before you see them crop up with regularity.

The already wildly overrated Charlie Kaufman joint Anomalisa is #1 just barely in a photofinish with the only marginally overrated Spotlight. Hee. Lots more on the actors and a distinct Oscar possibility after the jump...

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Yes No Maybe So: Freeheld

Manuel here eager to discuss the new trailer for Julianne Moore and Ellen Page's upcoming lesbian drama, Freeheld. Nat is swamped off-blog today so it's up to me to rush in to talk about this (ugh watermarked!!) trailer that premiered last night. We all know where the TFE readership will fall in pre-viewing collective excitement about Peter Sollet's film about the legal fight of a local cop with the Ocean County, New Jersey Board of Chosen Freeholders over her pension benefits transferring to her domestic partner after she's diagnosed with lung cancer. But that won’t stop us from submitting it to our handy Yes No Maybe So test, and typing YES several times in the next couple of paragraphs.

The breakdown and trailer after the jump...

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Titus Andromedon and the "GBF"

Please welcome new contributor Kyle Turner to the team, who has previously Smackdown'ed right here. In the wake of the Emmy nominations, he's here to talk about one very particular film & tv trope - Editor

In Tina Fey’s book of autobiographical essays Bossypants, she describes with delight and nostalgia her time growing up working at the Delaware County Summer Showtime program for the arts. And while her experiences about her background in theater are the surface, it’s her relationship to the queer community that serves as, perhaps, the thesis and thematic core of the essay. She writes carefully, balancing emotional reaction of the present juxtaposed against examining the events in hindsight. She talks about the lesbian best friends she had for several years, the way her hometown was like “Gay Wales” (“What Wales is to crooners, my hometown may be to homosexuals – meaning, there seems to be a disproportionate number of them and they are the best in the world!”), and, most important, the role of LGBT people in her personal narrative(s). She writes

I thought I knew everything after that first summer. ‘Being gay is not a choice. Gay people were made that way by God,’ I’d lectured Mr. Garth proudly. But it took me another whole year to figure out the second part: ’Gay people were made that way by God, but not solely for my entertainment.’ ”

In one quote, Fey pinpoints a problem that mainstream media often has when depicting queer (usually male) characters: they’re often asexual, thinly written, or designed with tropes built in as opposed to given the benefit of complexity that their straight counterparts more reflexively are given. They are, in a word, tokenized. [More...]

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Halfway: Best Supporting Performances of 2015 Thus Far

½way mark - part 6 of ?
While it was a great deal of fun choosing and articulating the Best Leading work of the year (thus far) at the halfway mark, the Supporting fields prove a more difficult task. This is not exactly the norm as movies tend to have more supporting role than leading ones. But -- grossly generalizing now -- a lot of movies underuse their supporting casts, especially the women. This is particular true of summer blockbusters: Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys, for example, don't even have any supporting females. You're either a male character, a leading female love interest, or you don't exist... except perhaps in cameo form (the eternal plight of one Judy Greer). Either that or the character actors are severely underchallenged. It's easy to feel exceptional warmth for Mary Kay Place in I'll See You In My Dreams or Sally Hawkins in Paddington, for example. Both women are welcome onscreen at any time, terrific actresses, but they're not expected to do much at all other than be a warm and welcoming presence. 

Anyway, let's proceed. 

Supporting Actress: Rose Byrne & Kristen Stewart 

But...that's not playing by the rules which is to choose five performances like you're doing an Oscar shortlist (though these lists should never be mistaken for Oscar Predictions which is a different topic altogether). So let's try again.

Here we go with 4 acting categories after the jump

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