Saturday, January 27, 2007

Best Unsung Performances of 2006

Why this tribute? Because none of these turns quite made the cut for my year-end honors, but I want to give them some public props anyway. Because in an era where Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain are considered "supporting" actors, it's important to recognize true-blue and top-flight support when it happens. Because some of the best-reviewed movies of 2006 hit some rough patches in their scripts that required a strong, smart, inevitably under-appreciated actor in a second- or third-tier part to smooth the path and keep things interesting. Because it's hard to create a person when some roles or films only want a silhouette, a stereotype, or a warm body to wear a fabulous outfit; we all know Vera Farmiga made the best of a mechanistic character this year in The Departed, but she wasn't the only one who spun a lot out of a little. And speaking of The Departed, that movie may well have boasted the year's most exciting ensemble, but at least four smaller movies worked comparable magic with their large, stellar casts.



Blogger Yaseen Ali said...

Wow. Loved reading this, and it just makes the countdown to your official awards even more exciting. I loved all your picks (especially the Shia LaBeouf shout-out), but major kudos for mentioning the gorgeous, talented Sharon Leal. I agree that she did an incredible job considering how little she was given to work with. And you aptly cited the two moments that really leave an impression - when she defends herself against Effie's accusations, and the look she gives Curtis when he reminds her that she is bound to the group.

I totally agree with the Lazarescu ensemble nod; Ana and Dogaru as the neighbours made strong cases for Supporting mentions in my books, but I've completely run out of room. Gah.

11:21 PM, January 27, 2007  
Blogger tim r said...

What wonderful writing! I'm astounded all over again that you manage to get so much mileage out of these awards and turn them into a way to explore and appreciate a whole year's films as richly as you're doing. Very much with you on Leal, Anderson and Bazeley, Chilton, Moran and Gheorghiou. And I'm so glad you found space for the consistently terrific Shia LaBeouf, who misses out on my Best Actor roster by a hair's breadth for his marvellously intuitive, smart and wary performance in A Guide to Recognising Your Saints, the film's single best corrective to its tendency in other areas to try a bit too hard.

Still, for every undoubted silver lining like LaBeouf in Bobby — and Stone too, and I had more time than usual for Laurence Fishburne — there's a ruinous ball of cumulonimbus like Ashton Kutcher lying in wait to wreck half his scenes. Just when I was starting to warm to him, too. I couldn't bear that stuff.

And I have real problems with Naomie Harris in almost everything. She never seems able to relax. I thought she was simply infuriating in 28 Days Later, and not in a good way. And speaking of intended breakout roles, her exhausting rasta accent in After the Sunset really put paid to that one. She was kinda fun in Pirates though.

Alongside the excellent Parker in History Boys I'd definitely want to put in a word for Samuel Barnett, who's perfect for that part, just the right side of whiny, and obviously well aware that Posner's the play's closest thing to an Alan Bennett surrogate. I thought his singing was smashing, and he held his own against Griffiths. He was perhaps even better on stage though.

I think I need to see Clean again. It really didn't work for me and I'm wondering if it's my fault I found Maggie's character so bizarre and illegible, or Maggie's. Quite a year for Eric Gautier, though, no?

8:33 AM, January 28, 2007  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

i'm so mad you stole one of my future shoutouts ;) now i'll look like i'm a copyin'

12:01 AM, January 29, 2007  

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