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Entries in Supporting Actor (99)


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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Halfway: Oscar Chart Updates ~ Acting, Animation, Screenplay

½way mark - part 1 of ?
With the year half over (if not really the film year which is so backloaded) and the trailer to Grandma out -- good news, it doesn't remotely spoil the best jokes or character beats -- we are reminded that it's time to update the Oscar Prediction Charts. Consider this the start of a weeklong "½way mark year in review" 

More and more Carey Mulligan in Suffragette seems the one to watch. It was interesting to read at Deadline how well Far From the Madding Crowd has been performing in international markets, too. That's good news for her momentum for the future relaese. Build your case as a worthy star and not just for one movie since Oscars are almost never decided on performance alone; Career timing and momentum is nearly always at least as important. That's the chief reason I'm still waffling on whether or not Lily Tomlin traction can happen. If she gets an Emmy nod this month, we'll know that "Let's Celebrate Lily's career!" is in the air. She's so good in Grandma so if that's the industry mood, a nomination could well happen.

Meanwhile Carol's Cannes success affects both Actress charts and also dings my faith in Freeheld which will be competing directly with it, however unfair that is and however different the films are, given that they're both lesbian romances with co-leads in which big stars headline and the younger will probably pursue category fraud.

UPDATE 07/02 Serious shake-ups in both of these charts - Supporting Actress chart fix (lost tier)

After Cannes, Paolo Sorrentino's Youth is seemingly like a real possibility in multiple categories. Even its detractors are inadvertently making a case for it. The reasons they hate it seem like "Oscar-will-love-this!" potshots. Plus: there are far worse filmmakers to crib from then Federico Fellini if your aim is Oscar gold. So, this is a long way of saying that I've boosted Michael Caine into the top five. I am weirdly resistant to his particular star charisma (yes, even from his heyday) and take issue with the past Oscar wins but I realize that this isn't true of the vast majority of movie lovers and if the film gets a big Oscar push, he'll be an easy sell.

In the supporting category mea culpa. Readers suggested that I was crazy to leave out stage giant Mark Rylance (an actor I love who rarely makes movies)  for Bridge of Spies. Once the trailer hit, I started losing faith in the movie and gaining faith in him. Funny that. In my defense, these things are anyone's blind pin the tail on the donkey gamesmanship before any footage has been seen (and even to a lesser degree after since so many other factors come into play). But why does the movie look so bland? It's Spielberg/Hanks/Kaminsky and they have 7 Oscars between them. Where were the memorable shots or instant-resonating storytelling beats? And yes you can squeeze those into a trailer.

The big news in both of these categories is the stellar debut of Inside Out. While total Best Picture nominee confidence may be a a case of wishful thinking situation with fans (it's possible but the Academy goes through phases and they might have moved since the animated feature category is so firmly established now and Pixar might be deemed well-enough rewarded over the past decade plus). That said, at this halfway mark it seems insane to imagine it losing the Animated Feature Oscar it's already so successful and acclaimed. Which means we could well see it in its screenplay category too where animated films can sometimes compete if they're beloved and clever enough (see: The Incredibles, Toy Story, Up) and this one is on both counts.

I've also added in The Program, Stephen Frears helmed story of Lance Armstrong's scandal now that it has a title and a trailer. We never shared the trailer (oops) but it looks pretty intense and the cast, especially Ben Foster, looks strong.

Picture, Director, Sound, Visuals, Foreign are not yet updated but they will be within next couple of days