The Oscar nominations are out and, shocker of shocks, they line up with very few of my acting choices. Helen Hunt, Bradley Cooper (one of my honorable mentions), Christoph Waltz (honorable mention, wrong category) and Jennifer Lawrence (right actress, wrong performance) are the only crossovers in equivalent acting categories. Jackie Weaver and Quvenzhane Wallis appear in lists that are coming out next week for very different categories. My Director list, coming next week, probably has the most crossover. But Supporting Actor? We're 0/5 on that list and I had 12 tries to line up with the Academy's tastes. So here are what I consider the Best Supporting Actors of 2012. An asterisk indicates a VOD release.
- Michael Caine, The Dark Knight Rises
- Billy Crudup, Thin Ice
- John Goodman, Flight
- Richard Jenkins, The Cabin in the Woods
- Matisyahu, The Possession
- Stanley Tucci, The Hunger Games
6: Rob Corddry, Butter*
I keep seeing Rob Corddry pop up in indie comedies, dramas, and dramedies with scene-stealing work. He's developed a great screen presence and knows how to sell a character. His performance as Ethan, a foster parent to a jaded young girl who wants to enter the Iowa State Butter Carving Competition, is really beautiful. I believe he is a caring father who manages to convince a severely neglected little girl that there are people who can and will love her in the world. His performance elevates the film above slapstick and general wackiness to something with a whole lot of heart.
5: Jason Clarke, Zero Dark Thirty
Jason Clarke plays the character you're meant to hate in Zero Dark Thirty. He is the C.I.A. agent whose first response to any disobedience from a terrorism suspect in custody is torture. The only living things on base he cares about are a cage of wild monkeys he shares treats with. He fades away after the first act, but not without doing all the heavy lifting to establish the tone of the film.
4: Marc Senter, The Devil's Carnival*
Can you tell I fell in love with The Devil's Carnival yet? Marc Senter gets to play The Scorpion, the knife throwing goon in the afterlife's malicious carnival show. His character is the most over the top in the film, imbued with Looney Tunes-like abilities and soundtrack to match as he traps the lovely young Tamara in another bad news relationship. His voice in "Trust Me (The Scorpion & The Frog)" is best described as menacing crooner. This is a really mannered performance that serves the vision of the film perfectly.
3: Andy Serkis, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
One day, the Academy Awards are going to have to recognize Andy Serkis' masterful acting. The only barrier is the motion capture suit, but someday they're going to have to realize that it is Serkis, not the computer, that brings these characters to life. His return performance as treasure-obsessed Gollum in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the highlight of the film. He sells one of Tolkien's best scenes--the game of riddles in the dark cave--better than I could have ever imagined. This is supposed to be a scary scene and Serkis' interpretation of the game terrified me.
2: Michael Fassbender, Prometheus
Michael Fassbender is marvelous in Prometheus. His android David has a surprisingly wide range of emotions for an early model of a robot designed to serve man. The action on the ship starts with his obsessive need to understand human culture--playing basketball while watching films, dying his hair to match a feature film character, constant questions about God and existence. This sets the plot in motion and allows Fassbender room to explore emotional responses to various circumstances. Viral promotional materials told us that David understood, but could not feel, human emotions, so the uncanny interpretation of human emotional response makes Prometheus all the more disturbing.
1: Christopher Walken, Seven Psychopaths
Christopher Walken pulls double duty in Seven Psychopaths. In the real world of the main story, he is a reformed criminal just trying to make people happy through a misguided dognapping racket. He found God and became a pacifist. In the screenplay within the film, he is a gun-wielding maniac ready to fight to the death if that's what it takes to stop someone worse than him. Walken's approach to the material is very unexpected. His pacifism is expressed only through words; his tone betrays the illusion at every turn unless he is making someone happy. In the world of the onscreen screenplay, he looks like the most dangerous psychopath in the bunch. This is a bravura performance that deserves far more attention than it has received.
So those are what I consider to be the Best Supporting Actors of 2012. What do you think? Who makes your list? Sound off below.