Wednesday, February 24, 2010

(My) Best of 09: Supporting Actor.

5. Matthew Newton in "Three Blind Mice" (read my review)

One would think an actor/director who directs himself would always get the lead role but Matthew Newton proved us wrong in "Three Blind Mice".
He plays one of three sailors on leave in Sydney and as the crass, loud one of the group he seems at first to serve only a comedic purpose.
His baby face and relentless malice make him both charming and scary (think Richard Widmark) but it doesn't take long before we are forced to observe him under a completely different light without his character ever going through a life changing situation as the other two do.
Newton's performance is a fascinating study of concealment and facades as a way of life.

4. Peter Capaldi in "In the Loop" (read my review)

There are actors who react and others that act and put everything in motion. In this film Peter Capaldi is a combination of both.
Almost Tati-esque in his effortlessly precise comedic timing, he plays Government Director of Communications, Malcolm Tucker who puts everyone to shame with his efficiency and cursing.
He finds beauty in the profane and while looking terrifying as a boss provides us with delicious sadistic pleasure in his treatment of others.
He might also just be the most quotable character of the year.

3. Christoph Waltz in "Inglourious Basterds" (read my review)

In a movie filled with dozens of great parts and splendid actors, Waltz practically walks away with the show as SS Colonel Hans Landa.
From his first scene where he interrogates a French farmer (played by Denis Menochet) he makes us laugh and gives us goosebumps.
As the movie advances he often borders on caricature but pulls back just in time to creep under our skin and become a vessel of pure nightmare. The thing with him is that you can never really hate him completely because Waltz makes Landa so real that for a second or two we even understand that his evil is rooted in obligation and even loyalty.

2. Paul Schneider in "Bright Star" (read my review)

As Charles Armitage Brown, best friend of doomed poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw), Paul Schneider gives a performance so subtle that it might take you more than one viewing of the film to see the effect he has on everyone.
He's at his best in scenes with Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) who he tortures childishly out of unsaid love. When he finally puts his feelings on paper and becomes the victim of a quiet love triangle we are too swept away by Fanny and John to even remember his pain but he lingers in the background to make the beauty of the romance ache more because of those who can't have it.
His accent might not be perfect but Schneider brings Armitage a sense of bruised pride, sorrow and brutish tenderness (see when he delivers the news of Keats' death) that make us appreciate the delicacy of the movie even more.

1. Michael Fassbender in "Fish Tank" (read my review)

From the second Connor (Fassbender) walks into Mia's (Katie Jarvis) kitchen we know he's just no good.
"You dance like a black" he tells her, holding up his loose pants while stretching his tiger like body as he makes coffee. He later clarifies he meant it as a compliment. For the fifteen year old girl who barely gets attention from anyone else, it's delightful to see that her mother (Kierston Wareing) finally brought home a man that might act as a father figure.
He takes them out, listens to fancy music (for her at least) and takes an interest in her dancing career. But there's something about the way he looks at her, the proximity with which he shows her things and the kindness he gives her that make us mistrust him.
Connor is not a villain in the "movie" sense of the word, the nature of his acts doesn't make him evil and he's capable of making us wonder how much did we help him succeed in his actions.
Fassbender gives him an almost predatory quality as he seduces us before seducing Mia. That he does so without recurring to cheap techniques is surprising but that he sees Connor and recognizes him first as a human being is nothing short of courageous. Few working actors push the limits of right and wrong like Fassbender.


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Great list, though I've not seen Fish Tank. Waltz was a runner up for me, but the thing with him and the entire cast of Inglourious Basterds is that try as they might I'm always aware that it's a when you watch a cartoon and Bugs Bunny "dies" you're never worried because you know he'll be back again. I just find Landa amusing because I know he's not real...which I wouldn't doubt is what Tarantino was going for.

Saw In the Loop again last week and it's still great. All those actors need to get more work (especially Capaldi, Hollander, and Kennedy)

Castor said...

Excellent list Jose! I haven't seen Fish Tank either but I definitely will for the simple fact that Fassbender is in it.

Michael Parsons said...

I cannot believe you did not nominated the kid from 'The Blind Side'. For shame!

Jose said...

Thanks guys! I really recommend "Fish Tank" if only for Fassbender, I didn't go as crazy about the rest of the movie.
Then again it might not even be a 09 release for you Castor but I'm a mess when it comes to release dates haha, just know it's a great performance in any year.

Andrew I know what you mean but I like that precisely in spite of this Will E. Coyote-ness of Waltz in the movie, he still touches on some primal matters like fear, hatred and obsession. Same as Uma in "Kill Bill", her revenge is completely preposterous but the very human need to protect her daughter is what elevates it to a drama of operatic levels.

You know me too well Michael, I just couldn't make up my mind between the annoying wiz-kid and the football pro/"magical negro" so they sadly split each other's votes.

Michael Parsons said...

I will not comment in the Supporting Actress post re the lack of nomination for Mo'Nique. I am purposely going do deny Penelope a MAFFE nomination