The Fifties for 2011: Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor
As usual, I've picked five favorites in "big" categories plus a list of Honorable Mentions whom I at least entertained for inclusion, if only briefly. A shame I couldn't count Drive, which I saw this morning and would crop up in at least a few races, including a possible mention below for Bryan Cranston. Then again, no one is likely to forget Drive by December, whereas a lot of the jewels of the winter, spring, and summer could use the extra stumping, which is why I keep this feature alive from year to year. That and people seem to like it, and it helps my increasingly Havarti-like brain from losing track of my own reactions. Without further ado, the first few winnerless "races"... and if you haven't seen the films, keep an eye out, or actively track them down!
(Once again keeping my rationales to Twitter length, to keep the verbiage from spinning out of control.)
Best Supporting Actress
Mary Page Keller for Beginners, because she brings the deceased mother to stirring, idiosyncratic life through her sharp economy of playing and her coherent connecting of dots;
Mélanie Laurent for Beginners, because she manages to suggest what is attractive and difficult about her quiet mooninees, simultaneously warm, sensitive, odd, and unreachable;
Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids, because even when scenes are handed right to her, her comic styling feels bold rather than coarse, her gags fresh, and her foregrounding earned;
Mirela Oprişor for Tuesday, After Christmas, for refusing to be too shrill or conveniently lovable, and then balancing poignant and petty reactions to ruinous news, in heroically long shots; and
Maria Popistaşu for Tuesday, After Christmas, for playing neither a naïve nor a cynical mistress, keeping remarkable poise in dentist's office, showing such quiet disillusion at mom's house.
Honorable mentions in alphabetical order to Jessica Chastain for The Help, Jennifer Ehle for Contagion, Vera Farmiga for Source Code, Sally Hawkins for Jane Eyre, Amy Ryan for Win Win, Octavia Spencer for The Help, Marisa Tomei for Crazy, Stupid, Love., and Morgan Turner and Mare Winningham for Mildred Pierce. Yes, I know it's HBO, but I'm counting it, which is an especially good thing considering...
Best Supporting Actor
Brían F. O'Byrne for Mildred Pierce, for quickly itemizing the problems in the Pierces' marriage but helping to develop their relationship into the series' most quietly touching;
Chris O'Dowd for Bridesmaids, because beyond his refreshing casting as the prince we root for, he helps us keep our attraction to and exasperation with Wiig's Annie balanced;
Gustavo Sánchez Parra for Leap Year, for making a subtle entry, ordering the lead around in uncomfortable ways, and signaling so many motives for and feelings about what they do;
Christopher Plummer for Beginners, for showing us a good time and seeing fully and generously into his character without selling him into cutesy comedy or milking the sadness; and
Corey Stoll for Midnight in Paris, because he so wittily maintains that thick and plummy comic line through the Hemingway persona that he almost singly redeems a stunted premise.
Honorable mentions to Marton Csokas for The Tree, Shima Ohnishi for Caterpillar, Guy Pearce for Mildred Pierce, Brad Pitt for The Tree of Life, Sergei Puskepalis for How I Ended This Summer, Markus Schleinzer for The Robber, Goran Visnjic for Beginners, and Burt Young for Win Win.