January 14, 2007

MOVIES: Best of 2006 -- supporting actor

A very strong category this year, in which most of the major awards contenders didn't make my list. Again, though, the winner stood out from the pack.

The runners-up:
  • Paul Dano, Little Miss Sunshine
  • Lawrence Fishburne, Akeelah and the Bee
  • Nick Nolte, Clean
  • Leslie Phillips, Venus
  • Mark Wahlberg, The Departed

The finalists:

  • Michael Caine, Children of Men -- his appearances are perfectly timed, providing comic relief just at the moments when we need it; the performance itself is just as well timed, and this laidback aged hippie is a Caine we've not seen before.
  • Steve Carell, Over the Hedge -- best voice performance of the year. Carell cranks up the energy and the pitch as high as possible, making Hammy the most memorable of the year's many cartoon critters.
  • Robert Downey, Jr., A Scanner Darkly -- as the ultimate conspiracy theorist, Downey completely immerses himself -- and us -- in Barris's drug-addled paranoia.
  • Stanley Tucci, The Devil Wears Prada -- a tiny role, but Tucci finds every nuance and subtlety in it, combining cruelty and supportiveness as he becomes a sort of mentor to Andy

And the winner:

  • Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children -- one of the bravest, and most important, things an actor can do is be willing to be hated. Haley never winks at the audience, or begs us to love him, or tries in any way to separate himself from the character he's playing. It's a superb performance.

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