January 31, 2010

MOVIES: Best of 2009: Supporting Actor

The nominees:
  • Alec Baldwin, It's Complicated -- the only character in the movie whose problems I cared about. He gets all of the laughs he's asked to get, and also nails his big emotional scenes.
  • John Malkovich, The Great Buck Howard -- an unusually jovial, extroverted performance from Malkovich, who is alternately charming and menacing as a touring psychic who just might be for real
  • Christian McKay, Me and Orson Welles -- yes, the Welles impression is nifty, but the acting goes deeper here than just a party trick; look, for instance, at the "oh hell, how do I top this" expression that flashes across his face after the success of opening night.
  • Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds -- the winner of virtually every critic's award this year, a multilingual tour-de-force that takes cinema's "charming Nazi" tradition to new heights.

The winner:

  • James Gandolfini, Where the Wild Things Are -- yes, it's a voice performance. But let's face it, as nice as it was to see actual physical bodies instead of CGI, the Wild Thing bodies and faces didn't communicate much emotion. So the fact that Carol was, for me, the single most moving character in any movie this year -- that's entirely due to Gandolfini's emotional clarity and the surprising, supple agility of his voice work.

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