The Fifties for 2012: Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actor
Simon Russell Beale for The Deep Blue Sea, for holding a steady flame under his character's uxorious devotion, but keeping his shame, disdain, and mystification simmering alongside it;
Daniel Henshall for The Snowtown Murders, for finding new variations and a bearish modesty inside the trope of the disarming, fatherly sociopath, slipping him quietly into the movie;
Noé Hernández for Miss Bala, for staying elusive in a film that can feel overdetermined, hinting he is the girl's best ally and worst threat, working some layered agenda;
Matthew McConaughey for Magic Mike, for embracing while expanding his persona, blending camaraderie and self-interest, fears about middle age and voluptuous delight in his body; and
Brian Murray for In the Family, for serving the character and the film by keeping complexity at a minimum, showing us a very savvy lawyer driven by straightforward decency.
Honorable mentions start with Steve Carell for dialing down so self-effacingly in Hope Springs but reading as sincere, intelligent, and interested rather than blank; Dwight Henry for balancing volatility, eccentricity, and adoration in such complicated proportions in Beasts of the Southern Wild; and Bruce Willis for tacitly and tenderly putting across the fully dimensional adult character that Moonrise Kingdom sorely needs, without signaling immediately that the character is headed that way. Philip Seymour Hoffman has galvanizing moments in The Master, several of them nicely underplayed, though the performance also comes outfitted with scenes and flourishes that don't fully cohere (though that's partly due to the script). Seth Rogen manages his anti-typecasting well in Take This Waltz, yet he too suffers for some of his writer-director's miscalculations, as in his indulgent montage of post-breakup grief. And no, I didn't forget Michael Fassbender in Prometheus; I just wasn't that taken with him, or surprised by anything in his perfectly skillful performance.