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COMMENT DU JOUR
best of 2014 -- any fycs?

YEAR IN REVIEW

ANY FYCS ?
 
"LINE READING: Chris Pine's "I was raised to be charming, not sincere" is an instant classic, and should be studied by actors playing that role for years to come.
-Colin

"BEST MUSICAL SEQUENCE IN A NON-MUSICAL: Hilary Swank in The Homesman tries to woo a suitor with homemade dinner and a song. So delicate and heartbreaking." - Cameron

"BEST CAMEO: Ben Affleck's Penis." -J. Garner

 

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Entries in Supporting Actor (80)

Sunday
Dec212014

FYC: Josh Brolin in "Inherent Vice" for Best Supporting Actor

And so we come to the end of our individually chosen FYCs. Amir, our team coordinator, is off for a month long holiday (!) which leaves myself, Nathaniel, your immortal but ever running-late host to wrap things up. To recap: we asked each team member to write up a personal favorite longshot* from one specific category. Here's the final entry in the series, a performance I really love in a film I really don't.

Why highlight a film I don't care for? Because it's important to remember during all-or-nothing awards season that each individual element of a film is different than the big picture and ought to be treated as such for the purposes of awardage.

Which brings us to...

See, it wasn't just the eternal sunshine of California or the vast vistas of desert land and salt water. It wasn't even really the hazy hash-filled air that P.T. Anderson's troupe was breathing. But I was parched and hungry the whole time I was watching Inherent Vice. I needed a fresh water oasis in the salty Pynchonian desert and Josh Brolin came to my rescue as "Bigfoot". Repeatedly. Fortunately he was also hungry, orally fixated you might say, and an eager lunch companion.

Like many characters in the film he's introduced with wonderfully descriptive prose that one assumes is lifted from the novel for voiceover. Brolin's introduction is in glorious widescreen longshot. The V.O.:

Like a bad luck planet in today's horoscope, here's the ol' hippie-hating mad dog himself in the flesh, Lieutenant Detective Christian F. "Big Foot" Bjornsen, SAG member, John Wayne walk, flat top, of Flintstone proportions, and that little evil shit twinkle in his eyes that says 'civil rights violations'" 

Brolin just owns this, presenting as a black & white Western rectangle stiffly inserting itself into the movie's otherwise geometrically ragged and fringed array of colorful people. Of course you can't see an evil shit twinkle in someone's eyes in long or medium shot but you can hear it in their voice.

Congratulations hippie scum! Welcome to a world of inconvenience"

Immediately we move to Bigfoot's office where the detective taunts Doc Sportello with carefully chosen words and obscene self-lubricated hand gestures; he's always shoving things into his mouth: frozen bananas, fingers, diner food. Brolin's line readings aren't just well delivered but perfectly balanced and heaped, as if he's collecting the best syllables on a fork, whichever wons have the most condescending flavor. The actor captures how natural all of this comes to Bigfoot now, that its both performative for Doc and completely innate in Bigfoot's character (we instantly register that the performance is now the reality after numerous pre-movie variations of these same conversations between the two detectives) since he's even doing the same things when he's out of view on the phone or half lost in his own strictly business thoughts when he's eating.

BigFoot's buzzkill nature would be suffocating if Brolin didn't find so many ways to play the notes. And though Bigfoot is mean to stand in opposition to the movie's other characters, he'd be totally at odds with the movie's loose hippie daze tone if he also weren't so damn funny. There are a great many people who think Inherent Vice is a good time movie in and of itself. Whether or not that proves to be your experience know this: it's a far greater party every single time Josh Brolin shows up to crash it.

Motto pankēki!" 

*I selected Brolin before his BFCA nomination so perhaps he's not quite as improbable as expected in a low key supporting actor competition, so I'm crossing my fingers... or licking them in Bigfoot's honor.

RELATED
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR CHART  

Each Longshot FYCs In Case You Missed Any
Actor, Locke | Actress, Belle | Supp. Actress, Gone Girl | Supp. Actor, Inherent Vice
Picture, Obvious Child |  Adapted Screenplay, A Most Wanted Man 
Sound Mixing, Grand Budapest HotelCostume, The Boxtrolls 
Cinematography, Homesman | Prod. Design, Enemy | Editing, Citizenfour  

Short-Lived Longshot FYCs = Academy Thought Otherwise
Makeup, Only Lovers Left Alive (eliminated) | FX, Under the Skin (eliminated)
Screenplay, The Babadook (ineligible) | ScoreThe Immigrant (eliminated)

Friday
Nov212014

Interview: Jason Clarke on Acting with Apes & Terminators

I wonder aloud if Jason Clarke, the still rising breakout star of Zero Dark Thirty, is feeling a little overscheduled these days. Is he scheduled in 20 minute increments at this point? He claims he's taking a little time off to enjoy himself in the days surrounding our 20 minutes on the telephone, but I'm not sure I quite believe him. Which is a strange feeling because onscreen, the fortysomething Aussie is never less than believable whether he's torturing prisoners in Zero Dark Thirty, totally unnerved by talking armed apes on horseback (who wouldn't be?) in Dawn of the Apes, bootlegging with his Bondurant brothers in Lawless, and so on.

Perhaps more surprising than his authenticity onscreen is his modesty. He didn't so much steal his scenes in Zero Dark Thirty as oxygenate then, detailing the emotional and intellectual and moral gaps between his hardened CIA operative and the newbie in his camp with his duet with Jessica Chastain. And though Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbel do amazing work in their motion capture suits as Caesar and Koba, this still human actor is so effortlessly grounding that he anchors the large excellent cast and behemoth fantastical enterprise that is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes without ever drawing attention to himself.

Thankfully Hollywood has seen through the modesty. Jason Clarke is very busy. As unintentional proof he struggles to recall which order he filmed things in "I did a couple back to back. Terminator and before that I shot Everest. [Pause] What did I shoot before that?" Better Angels, a small black and white period indie which just opened in select cities, is so far back in the "before that" list that you know you'll be seeing a lot of him onscreen.  

Our talk is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov142014

Oscar's Acting Categories Take Shape. Or Do They?

If you're an Oscar chart junkie, you'll see some key shifts on all four acting charts which are now updated. The biggest switcheroo is Jessica Chastain moving to Supporting Actress (the original prediction back in April) which shakes that field up more than it creates a vacuum with the Best Actress race and both Foxcatcher men dropping out of the predicted lead actor shortlist.

Papa, how can I be too high in rank to dine with the servants and too low to dine with my family?

Best Actress has been hard to suss out beyond two sure things: Julianne Moore as a professor with early on-set Alzheimers and Reese Witherspoon as a woman trying to forgive herself and start anew by hiking the PCT. Both of those films are major star vehicles in that they put their leading actress and her considerable gifts front and center without obstructed views. Gone Girl and The Theory of Everything also look somewhat likely to produce nominees but those are definitely two-lead films which Pike and Jones must share with their screen hubbies. On the podcast this weekend we'll talk more about this race because the field still seems wide open beyond those four names. And, if past years are any indication, one of them could surprisingly drop out. There are a lot of viable women hoping to unseat them, which makes "where are the best actress candidates?" articles in major outlets like THR and The Washington Post absolutely mystifying or ignorant or sexist or something. Something not right is the point. Particular maddening is that THR article which claims two dozen viable Best Actor candidates beyond the presumed frontrunners but will even list the most longshot of longshots like Eller Coltrane (Boyhood) and Al Pacino (The Humbling) and Kevin Costner (Black and White) -- none of which have any heat -- as "credible" contenders but can't think of ANY slightly under the radar women other than Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)? That's wearing some serious blinders to support your thesis. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct292014

Podcast: Gone Girl, Whiplash, and Kathleen Turner Sightings

The Podcast is back! 
And just in time for awards season to heat up. Please welcome back Nick Davis, Joe Reid, Katey Rich and your host Nathaniel R, as they discuss Gone Girl's conversational staying power, agnosticism about the very popular Whiplash, and fun anecdotes from Nick's jury duty at the Chicago Film Festival.

The discussion goes like so:

  • 00:01 Wild Anecdote & Podcast Reunion
  • 01:20 Kathleen Turner & Chicago Film Festival
  • 03:50 Gone Girl
  • 25:52 Wide Open Supporting Races
  • 27:31 The Selma Plan? 
  • 29:20 The Gotham Awards
  • 32:00 Whiplash
  • 41:25 Goodbyes

Articles Referenced in This Discussion
Gone Girl's "Psycho Bitch" |  Vulture Gone Girl's Woman ProblemKatey on Supporting ActressNathaniel on Supporting ActorThe Gotham Award Nominations 

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download on iTunes tomorrow (it generally takes 24 hours to show up there). Continue the conversation in the comments! 

Whiplash, Girl !

Saturday
Oct252014

Meet the Contenders: Sam Rockwell "Laggies"

Here's abstew with this weekend's profile of an outside Oscar contender. While this weekend's release is not quite as buzzy as other contenders, Rockwell is always worth celebrating.

Sam Rockwell as Craig in Laggies

Best Supporting Actor

Born: November 5, 1968 in San Mateo, California

The Role: Lynn Shelton's latest film (the director's previous work include mumblecore films Humpday and Your Sister's Sister), that premiered at Sundance this year, takes on a story of a woman with arrested development. Megan (Keira Knightley) is in her late 20's and all her friend's are doing adult things like getting married. But when Megan's own boyfriend proposes, she freaks out, goes into a quarter life crisis, and ends up hanging out with a teenage girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), while finding herself drawn to the girl's divorced father (Rockwell).

Rockwell took over in the role of Craig, which was originally supposed to be played by Paul Rudd. (Knightley also took over for Anne Hathaway who had to drop out due to filming of Interstellar.) And due to an illness that left him in the hospital, came in at the end of the shoot to film his part. He said that his recent hospital stay brought a more subdued nature that worked for his character. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct242014

The Wide Open Spaces of Best Supporting Actor

With only six presumed major contenders yet to be screened by these eyes (Unbroken, Big Eyes, Into the Woods, A Most Violent Year, Selma, American Sniper) it's awfully late in the year for there to be so little in the way of clues as to what the full Supporting Actor lineup might look like. In a more competitive year Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), and Edward Norton (Birdman) probably wouldn't seem like cast iron locks in October. But they do. 

Kingsley (Exodus), Waltz (Big Eyes), Caine (Interstellar), Duvall (The Judge). 19% of the nominees in this category in the past 20 years have been previous winners.

In the fantasy world inside my head, the Academy board of governors throws up their hands and admits defeat, making a special ruling that from this day forward there will be 7 Supporting Actress nominees each year and only 3 Supporting Actors because everyone knows that's the way it should be given the disparity gap in quality between the two categories. But the world doesn't operate by my actressexual logic, as tragic as that may be. 

Given the Academy's lack of imagination for this particular category -- it's by a significant ratio the least quality-oriented among Oscar's long history with acting honors -- we'll most likely see some scenario where very traditional Oscar Bait or Category Frauders or Respected Men who they like regardless of the role / picture show up. Maybe a twofer from this previously nominated bunch: Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes), Robert Duvall (The Judge) Michael Caine (Interstellar), Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice -- I love this performance by the way. Not trying to paint it with an underserving brush), or maybe even a double whammy like Tim Roth/Tom Wilkinson (Selma) though the Supporting Actor category hasn't had a double since Bugsy way back in 1991 with Ben Kingsley and Harvey Keitel. (Back then I pretended Keitel was nominated for Thelma & Louise instead  - it made infinitely more sense)

My point is this: two spots are wide open for which truly no one can legitimately claim to have any solid traction for (yet). Frankly any actor with a good size role this year who is either a) respected or b) in an Oscar friendly movie, would be insane not to be shaking hands and kissing babies and doing a bajillion interviews. And as I've long maintained, campaigning as a long shot is NOT bad for your career. It helps you with momentum, even if you don't make it, the next time you're great in a picture. Pardon the pun, but it's a golden opportunity.

Here, for your hopeful amusement and ponderings, some contenders that aren't being discussed...

LONGSHOT CONTENDERS OFF BEATEN PATH
... FOR YOUR 'WHAT IF' PONDERINGS...

TYLER PERRY, Gone Girl
Elvis has arrived... at the Dolby Theater? I was the first pundit to suggest this and honestly I don't see why it's so far-fetched. He's a known commodity seen in a new context (often an attention-grabbing combo) in a crowd-pleading part in a blockbuster hit. Plus Supporting Actor, of all the acting categories, is arguably the one that's least concerned with actual performances and roles and more with the men in question. This is the category where they regularly shove people they just want to congratulate, people they just generally like regardless of the part, and careers that are there to be honored. (Plus its where they shove leading men who aren't strong enough to make it in the Lead Actor category but let's not get into Category Fraud today!) The real question here is whether AMPAS members love Gone Girl and I'm getting conflicting info on that.

Billy Magnusson at the Tony AwardsCHRIS PINE and BILLY MAGNUSSEN, Into the Woods
Look, I know how Oscar works. They're more likely to nominate Johnny Depp as The Wolf no matter what he looks like therein since they like the familiar faces. Still, in nearly every production of Into the Woods the Princes are awesome and funny. No one thinks "comedy!" when they hear the name Chris Pine unless they're obsessed with Just My Luck and if so they deserve our collective empathy but I assure all of you that the other prince, stage actor Billy Magnussen, is the real deal as comically gifted actors go. He's probably too young / too unknown by AMPAS types to win one of those "silly" nomination even if they end up loving Into the Woods but maybe that "Agony" duet will be a real showstopper?

ALEC BALDWIN, Still Alice
For symmetry's sake with Iris (2001), they could nominate the long-suffering husband of the Best Actress with Alzheimers.  If they do, everyone will be absolutely stunned to realize that Alec Baldwin is older now than Jim Broadbent was back then. True fact.

ANDY SERKIS, TOBY KEBELL, and JASON CLARKE, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
People seem to have forgotten about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which is a bit weird when you consider how obsessed people were for at least two weeks earlier this year. Serkis and Kebell are both doing motion capture performances that everyone was wild for as the film's star ape and his antagonist. Oscar might not be quite ready to go there yet, but Oscar pundits and think piece essayists most definitely are each time. Eventually something like that will happen but I'm guessing we're about 10 years away from that scenario. Still, you never know and if the movie has a late revival and they're too scared to nominate an Ape there's always rising star Jason Clark in the lead role to consider for supporting. Can this movie's campaign team remind everyone how respected this cast was over the summer for some Best Ensemble traction at least? We'll see.

MARTIN SHORT, Inherent Vice
Hear me out and try not to hate me. I am not a fan of Martin Short. I know this makes me an outlier but his screen persona / performance style is too broad to take seriously in non-slapstick situations. Yes, even in the rare circumstances when he's doing drama. Nevertheless I am not blind to the crazy love other people feel for him and at least at the screening I attended for Inherent Vice his extended over the top cameo as a lecherous drug-addled dentist with a much younger girlfriend was a huge hit with the crowd. The Academy isn't opposed to oddball nominations in the supporting category if it means they can honor a veteran. Maybe this isn't so far-fetched at all... IF and only if the critics rally for Inherent Vice which they might despite it being Paul Thomas Anderson's worst movie. 

ALBERT BROOKS, A Most Violent Year and... uh... Drive
Fantasy Scenario Inside My Demented Oscar Brain: Feeling frisky the Actors Branch refuses to comply by AMPAS rules and forces a double nomination for Albert Brooks. First for his supporting role in the late breaking A Most Violent Year and a special write-in for Drive (2011) the very first retroactive nomination for a past snub along with a full page apology in Variety. Sorry about it, man. You were such a good sport that year. Here's two nominations! 

FRESHLY UPDATED OSCAR CHARTS...
(more to come)
ACTRESS |  SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESSANIMATED FEATURES