Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars 2011: Best Supporting Actor

Note: This is my personal ranking, listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite. Prediction for the actual winner is in orange.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR


1. John Hawkes
Winter’s Bone

2. Geoffrey Rush
The King’s Speech

3. Christian Bale
The Fighter

4. Mark Ruffalo
The Kids Are All Right

5. Jeremy Renner
The Town

Missing: Andrew Garfield, The Social Network

Usually, the supporting actor categories contain the most surprising and subtle performances of the year. Last year, I was incredibly excited for my two personal picks — Mo’Nique for Precious and Christopher Plummer for The Last Station — but they were also surrounded by other worthy contenders. This year’s ranking could have been selected at random, as no single performance stood out drastically from another.

With that said, everyone and his brother is touting Christian Bale‘s twitchy, creepily too-skinny, showy performance as Dickie Eklund, the addict-athlete, as “astonishing,” “tragic,” and a myriad of other superlative adjectives used to describe such dedicated method acting. Regardless of whether you agree, the voracious scenery- chewer Bale is going home with this award for his bout in The Fighter.

The dark horse in this event is Geoffrey Rush‘s alternately sensitive, flamboyant, clever, and honest portrayal of Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who cures the king of his super-stutter. While Rush camps it up quite a bit, favoring The King’s Speech‘s funny bits over its more saccharine (which we are all thankful for), he shines purely for his unadulterated liveliness in a film that could be dreadfully dull with any other cast. Apparently enough Academy voters agree, because if anyone steals the heavyweight title from Christian Bale, it’s going to be this Aussie.

Jeremy Renner‘s nomination for his Boston-Irish baddie in The Town came out of left field, especially considering he was nominated last year for his much more impressive breakout performance as The Hurt Locker‘s bad-boy bomb-diffuser (do we note a trend here?). With no other love for the Ben Affleck-helmed flick, there’s little doubt Renner is the lowest on the totem pole. Mark Ruffalo, on the other hand, offers a soulful, sensitive, and surprisingly deep performance as the sperm-donor who falls in love with the kids he never knew and the lesbian he wishes wasn’t. And unlike Bale, he doesn’t attempt to swallow the film whole, thus deflecting any and all Academy acclaim away from his little indie-that-could. The same can be said for John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone, whose silent menace foreshadows, yet never quite prepares you for, his sudden bursts of violence, and even less so his matter-of-fact compassion as he half-willingly guides his niece in her quest to find her missing father. A quiet stunner, Hawkes flies so low under the radar that he barely registers when placed next to his flashier co-nominees. With so many less than ostentatious contenders, is it any wonder that The Social Network‘s Andrew Garfield didn’t make the cut for his intelligent and acute portrayal — the most sympathetic and moving in the film — of the guy Mark Zuckerberg screwed over?

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This entry was posted on February 22, 2011 by in Award Predictions, Oscar-Nominated.

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