Friday, February 24, 2012

LowRes 2011 Movie Awards: The Actors, Part 3

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

Tom Hiddleston - Thor / Midnight in Paris / War Horse
Jake Johnson - Ceremony
Hunter McCracken - Tree of Life
Ezra Miller - We Need to Talk About Kevin
Chris O'Dowd - Bridesmaids

Big, big year for breakout performances, and not just limited to the child actors this time. Though it will be awfully interesting to see if McCracken's naturalistic, un-hammy performance proves to be a herald of a real talent or the product of Malick's careful filmmaking. And Ezra Miller appears to be one of those self-serious teens who end up becoming really great actors because they're working at it 24/7. He certainly brought all sorts of uncomfortable edges to his character that weren't built into the script (stop flirting with your mother!).

Meanwhile, it's always nice to get an import like Chris O'Dowd to remind us of how male love interests get to look like in other places. And while lumpy-faced Irishmen charm our women, we're bringing in angel-faced Brits to play our sneaky villains like Hiddleston did in Thor. I had Hiddleston marked down for this category for Thor alone, and brilliant bit work in the two Best Picture nominees only enhanced his case.

And then there's Jake Johnson, who currently has a sweet TV gig with New Girl, but he was so, so strong in Ceremony. Which I know you all haven't seen, but give it a go. It may not be your cup of tea as a movie (we've seen these over-verbal, self-centered 20-year-old characters wayyyyy too often these last ten years), but stick around for Johnson's hilarious and sad work on the periphery.

Nina Arianda - Higher Ground
Haley Bennett - Kaboom!
Jessica Chastain - The Help / Take Shelter
Adepero Oduye - Pariah
Shailene Woodley - The Descendants

Chastain's the no-brainer that you know about; I was maybe less than bowled over by what amounted to a lot of longing glances from behind curtains in Tree of Life, but she was so weird and delightful in The Help and then sympathetic and strong in Take Shelter. She's deserving of all the roles being thrown at her.

Nina Arianda is THE Broadway breakout star of the year, but I need to make sure people don't sleep on the promise she's also showing on the big screen. She was a crackling counterpart to Paul Giamatti in Win Win for a couple of scenes, but she really made a mark when it came to playing Vera Farmiga's sister in the wonderful (have you noticed I'm fond of it?) Higher Ground, effortlessly pulling laughs and blazing a path through her meager running time.

Both Oduye and Bennett announced themselves as big talents -- though they could not have arrived there via two more disparate projects than the critically-lauded, respectful Pariah and the crass, loathed, insane Kaboom!. Here's hoping both women will be given the roles to really make their mark (I'll say it again, Lionsgate: wrap up Haley NOW for Johanna Mason in the final two Hunger Games movies; she's perfect). I'm only slightly less bullish on Woodley, because as wonderful as she was in The Descendants (my favorite performance, easily), my only other data points on her are from abysmal work on an abysmal show like Secret Life of the American Teenager.

Adrien Brody - Midnight in Paris
John Forest - Young Adult
Gianna Giachetti - Certified Copy
Bill Irwin - Higher Ground
Allison Janney - Margaret

Once again, thanks to Nathaniel for giving me the inspiration for this made-up category. It helps separate true supporting performances from one-scene wonders, I'll say that. These performances vary from glorified extras (Giachetti as a chatty and oddly perceptive waitress) to one-scene wonders (Forest as the World's Happiest Cripple; Janney in a barnburner of an accident scene that kicks off the entire main plot), to parts that almost feel like featured cameos (Brody's performance as Dali pretty much IS a cameo, but it's delightfully entertaining; Irwin is more part of the patchwork of the story, but his churchy earnestness feels specific without being jokey). All five of them were secret weapons to their films' respective success.

Hanna: Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Jessica Barden.

Higher Ground: Vera Farmiga, Joshua Leonard, Dagmara Dominczyk, Norbert Leo Butz, Donna Murphy, John Hawkes, Taissa Farmiga, Bill Irwin, Nina Arianda, Kaitlyn Rae King, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Michael Chernus, Barbara Tuttle, Boyd Holbrook, Sean Mahon, Matthew Biltonen.

Rampart: Woody Harrelson, Robin Wright, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Brie Larson, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster, Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, Ice Cube, Jon Bernthal, Robert Wisdom.

A Separation: Peyman Maadi, Leila Hatami, Sareh Bayat, Shahab Hosseini, Sarina Farhadi, Ali-Asghar Shahbazi, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh, Kimia Hosseini, Merila Zarei.

Young Adult: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser, Collette Wolfe, Jill Eikenberry, Richard Bekins, Kate Nowlin, Louisa Krause, John Forest, Rightor Doyle.

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