Thursday, February 24, 2011

LowRes 2010 Movie Awards: The Actors, Part 2

The 2010 LowRes Movie Awards: 30 Amazing Moments / Best Trailers / Best Techs (Visual) / Best Techs (Audio) / Screenplays + Director / Breakthrough + Ensemble + Cameo / Supporting Actor + Actress / Lead Actor + Actress / Top 10 Films

Christian Bale - The Fighter
Andrew Garfield - Never Let Me Go
John Hawkes - Winter's Bone
Ben Mendelsohn - Animal Kingdom
Michael Shannon - The Runaways

This year's Oscar crop boasts probably the best Supporting Actor class in my awards-watching lifetime. That I can only replicate two of the five on my own ballot is a testament to the strength of the overall field this year. (As you'll see below in the runners-up, all of this year's Oscar-nominated supporting actresses impressed me to some degree.) Frankly, I'm kind of shocked John Hawkes managed to muscle out the Oscar nod considering how low-profile his movie, role, and celebrity status are. But kudos to awards voters for remembering Winter's Bone and specifically Hawkes's comfortingly menacing Teardrop.

I almost left Christian Bale off this list, because I've gotten so ambivalent about Bale's capital-A "Actorliness." But when it comes down to it, I can't imagine The Fighter -- a movie I loved a LOT -- existing at all without the energy Bale shoots into it. Similarly, Michael Shannon is an actor who generally gets praised for things that drive me crazy about him. That slobbering intensity has just become too predictable. What I love about what he does in The Runaways is that he bends that intensity in interesting, self-aggrandizing directions that suit the character more than Shannon's personal style.

Garfield gave two excellent performances this year, but while I found him to be tremendously sympathetic in The Social Network, the fact that the movie was so in the tank for him kept me from going all the way. But in Never Let Me Go, he is just so utterly heartbreaking and perfect. Finally, if you haven't yet seen Animal Kingdom, do so immediately and then shudder at the low-key but no less terrifying menace of what Ben Mendelsohn brings.

Runners Up: Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right); Jeremy Renner (The Town); Stanley Tucci (Easy A / Burlesque); Matt Damon (True Grit); Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech).

Amy Adams - The Fighter
Dale Dickey - Winter's Bone
Greta Gerwig - Greenberg
Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom
Dianne Wiest - Rabbit Hole

If you look at this field for a minute, themes certainly begin to declare themselves. Like the many shades of older women in Hollywood, be they wise yet naggy mother types like Dianne Wiest's Nat, or Medusa-like hags at the gates of the underworld like Dale Dickey's Merab , or seemingly sweet old grannies whose jaw will one day unhinge and devour whole people (what's up Jacki Weaver?). I swear, the category just shook out that way, though with Melissa Leo juuuust missing the cut with her own overbearing (if desperately loyal) older woman, I can see how the trend would feel engineered. But let's be honest: there's every other scene in a movie this year, and then there's Dianne Wiest talking about that brick in your pocket.

Of course, on the other end of that spectrum are the indomitable youth of Amy Adams and Greta Gerwig. If I had a vote in the Oscar race, I think it'd go to Adams, whose vision for Charlene was so solid and who transcended what even the story required of her. She made Mark Wahlberg's character so much more interesting, by osmosis. As for Greta Gerwig, she's going to be a huge star, I think, and I'm glad I got in on the ground floor. After Baghead and House of the Devil, it was nice to watch Greta in a movie and not have to worry about her running around in the dark, afraid for her life. Her interplay with Ben Stiller managed to be low-key without losing any of what's at stake.

Runners Up: Melissa Leo (The Fighter); Elle Fanning (Somewhere); Karina Fernandez (Another Year); Mila Kunis (Black Swan); Patricia Clarkson (Easy A).


Monty Ashley said...

I would not have guessed that one of my favorite moments of any 2010 film would involve Amy Adams punching someone in the face repeatedly. But here we are!

NicksFlickPicks said...

"Medusa-like hags at the gates of the underworld" is amazing, even if it reminds me equally of what I love about Dale Dickey in this movie and what makes me a little nervous about the film itself.

By this final pre-Oscar week, I always feel like I've slurped down a ton of bourbon and can convince myself of anything, but I keep wondering, does John Hawkes have the same Marcia Gay possibilities that I keep clinging to for Jacki Weaver? Like, if voters really watch all five perfs, don't a LOT of them settle on him as a favorite, and maybe prefer him stealing the movie without lunging for it the way Bale does? I wonder...

jessica said...

Nick: I don't really think Hawkes has a chance at a win; that's just not how the Supporting Actor category usually shakes out. Plus, as Actorly as Bale was in The Fighter, he was also completely mesmerizing, and that's hard to ignore. If there's a surprise upset in the category, I say it goes to Rush.

jessica said...

Also, I feel ridiculous still commenting on your Rabbit Hole stuff, because it's gotten pretty redundant (if people still knew what a record was, I would say I sound like a broken one), but YESYESYES to the brick in your pocket scene.

RJ said...

Weaver and Mendehlson were such a terrifying duo. Agreed on both counts.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

THANK YOU for the Wiest citation. For me, the supporting women this year begin and end with her performance. I love how you sum it up, wise but nagging. Nat sort of feigns a kookiness, but she's so wise and Wiest is so perfect showing us. EVERY scene of hers jumps out at me.