Thursday, February 23, 2012

LowRes 2011 Movie Awards: The Actors, Part 1

The 2011 LowRes Movie Awards: 25 Amazing Moments / Best Trailers / Best Techs (Visual) / Best Techs (Audio) / Screenplays / Supporting Actor + Actress / Lead Actor + Actress / Breakthrough + Cameo + Ensemble / Top 10 Films

Albert Brooks - Drive
John Hawkes - Martha Marcy May Marlene
Tom Hollander - Hanna
Joshua Leonard - Higher Ground
Corey Stoll - Midnight in Paris

Hey there, John Hawkes. Nice to see you once again atop my list of supporting performances for playing a creepy rural goblin man! Actually, kidding aside, the reasons I was so dazzled by Hawkes's turn in Martha Marcy were because of the crucial differences from Teardrop in Winter's Bone. Everything about Teardrop was intended to keep you away, while his cult leader in Martha Marcy is all spindly magnetism and sincere insincerity. He scared the shit out of me.

Corey Stoll stole (ugh) every single scene of his in Midnight in Paris, and even a few when he wasn't on camera and I was busy wondering when I'd see him again. Tom Hollander didn't have the "luxury" of an underwhelming movie around him, and even then he managed to make a dynamite impression as a pansexual Euro dungeon gnome who exists solely to stalk people with extreme creepiness and athletic apparel. And Albert Brooks tears into that most celebrated of Hollywood roles, the merciless crime boss with flair.

I think I'm happiest to be able to throw Joshua Leonard on this list, since I've had a soft spot for him ever since The Blair Witch Project and it's been nice to see him salvage a career that his castmates couldn't manage. He's really phenomenal as Vera Farmiga's faithful but empathetically limited husband in Higher Ground, particularly in scenes late in the movie where he's so disarmed by regret.

Runners Up: James Badge Dale (Shame); Christopher Plummer (Beginners); Jake Johnson (Ceremony); Shahab Hosseini (A Separation); Patton Oswalt (Young Adult).

Jeannie Berlin - Margaret
Rose Byrne - Bridesmaids
Dagmara Dominczyk - Higher Ground
Carey Mulligan - Shame
Amy Ryan - Win Win

I totally didn't see Jeannie Berlin's character coming, and I think the lion's share of Margaret's unexpected brilliance comes from the fact that she shows up and goes toe-to-toe with Lisa, challenging her in ways that cut through her eighteen layers of bullshit. This is hand-to-hand emotional combat and they're both fighting dirty even as they're ostensibly allies. She's prickly and impatient and so insanely New York I could smear her on a bagel.

Amy Ryan and Dargmara Dominczyk offer more traditional support to their respective lead characters, but they thankfully never fade into the background. Ryan, gifted by Tom McCarthy with an uncommonly rewarding role despite being "the wife," delivers a warm-hearted woman who is still holding onto just enough Jersey deep down to make her formidable. Higher Ground's Annika embodies a kind of free-spirited Christianity that Vera Farmiga's character desperately wants to attain, and Dominczyk delivers a woman worthy of such adoration.

Carey Mulligan was given a tough assignment, externalizing everything Fassbender was internalizing; making her face and limbs and tragic posturing match everything stuck inside her brother's slender, put-together frame. It'd be hard not to come across as a needy gargoyle, and I take it that's exactly what a lot of people saw in her, but I think I take better to open-wound characters like hers. That "New York, New York" elegy was a sensation.

Finally, I realize I'm stealing a nomination from the wonderful Melissa McCarthy and handing it to her beautiful, Australian co-star. Heartless, I know. But while McCarthy was quite funny, I was openly blown away by how Byrne stood toe-to-toe Kristen Wiig in the funniest scenes in Bridesmaids and didn't flinch. For an actress who isn't from the kind of comedy background her co-stars were, it was remarkable.

Runners Up: Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs); Sarah Paulson (Martha Marcy May Marlene); Aasha Davis (Pariah); Anjelica Huston (50/50); Mary Page Keller (Beginners).


Jeff Hansen said...

My two "I finally got around to watching" movies that I watched in the last month are In The Loop and Hanna. So I've been thinking about Tom Hollander a lot, and how incredibly different he was in both. In The Loop was the kind of performance that should cause me to look at him and be unable to picture him as anything but nebbish and ineffective, and instead I'm going to look at him as unsettling and scary going forward.

Actually, my CAPTCHA errors gave me time to realize that I remember how unsettling and unlikeable he was in the Pirates movies too, so maybe In The Loop was more impressive to me.

Like I said, I've been thinking about him.

Anonymous said...

SO GLAD to see your nominees from "Higher Ground" here. I thought both of them were excellent and was bummed when they and the film failed to gain any awards traction.