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Best Supporting Performances of 2009

January 30, 2010 2 comments

My list of the supporting performances that I loved in the year 2009.

MALE

1. Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds: There is nothing else I can say about this performance that hasn’t been said before. Waltz is brilliant as the evil, cunning Nazi Colonel Hans Landa. Tarantino created a truly memorable character on the page and it’s Waltz who brings Tarantino’s vision to life on-screen. He deserves all the awards coming his way. If you haven’t seen the film, go now! The opening twenty minutes of the film showcases Waltz at his most spellbinding.

2. Christian McKay as Orson Welles in Me and Orson Welles: Christian McKay’s portrayal of Orson Welles is the main reason to go and seek out this picture. The film itself is average, but it’s McKay’s performance that will make this film last long in your memory. McKay is able to perfectly capture the ego, talent and brilliance of the real Orson Welles. For an example of McKay’s brilliance, look at the long tracking shot of him walking into a radio station and totally taking control.

3. Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker in In the Loop: I just love watching Capaldi as the super foul-mouthed director of communications for the English prime minister. It is completely absorbing to watch him unleash blistering curse words against people. This man is always on the edge of having a blood vessel burst. The profanity flowing out of his mouth is delivered so smoothly it leaves you simultaneously shocked and bursting with laughter.

4. James Gandolfini as Carol in Where the Wild Things Are: This could be considered a controversial choice. Gandolfini is never physically seen on-screen, but that didn’t stop me from connecting with this performance. Gandolfini’s brilliant voice work completely made this tall creature a believable, unique character. His voice is full of anger, hate, joy, and it’s these emotions that connects him with film’s main character, Max. Who would have thought the Tony Soprano could so perfectly convey a sensitive side to this Wild Thing named Carol?

5. Fred Melamed as Sy Ableman in A Serious Man: The above photograph completely captures the brilliance of Fred Melamed as Sy Ableman. Even though Melamed is having sex with Larry’s wife, he couldn’t be nicer about it. He is both Larry’s antagonist and tries to be his best friend. It takes a great actor to capture the genuine sincerity and creepiness of Sy Ableman.

Honorable Mentions: Jake Gyllenhaal in Brothers, Anthony Mackie in The Hurt Locker, Michael Fassbender in Inglourious Basterds.

FEMALE

1. Mo’Nique as Mary in Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire: Like my number one pick for best supporting actor, Christoph Waltz, Mo’Nique is almost certain to win the Oscar for best supporting actress. She is absolutely terrifying as the worst mom ever depicted on-screen. The words she throws against her daughter are as frightening as any fists she throws. Mo’Nique is able to create a character that we have some level of pity for by the end of the film.

2. Anna Kendrick as Natalie Keener in Up in the Air: Kendrick is really the heart of this film. On the surface you think her character is going to be a corporate lackey without a soul. As it turns out she does have a soul, and she is the reason for Clooney’s change in the film. Kendrick has great chemistry with Clooney and is not afraid to go head to head with him during their first confrontational meeting. It’s a great scene to watch.

3. Diane Kruger as Bridget von Hammersmark in Inglourious Basterds: Kruger is beautiful to watch on-screen as the German film star, turned British spy. The way the camera shoots her, only helps us believe that she really is this beautiful film star of the 1940’s. Kruger has all the charm of a movie star, but also the ruthlessness of a double agent. The scene where she meets up with Hans Landa during the movie premiere is a beauty to watch.

4. Marion Cotillard as Luisa in Nine: Cotillard is one talented actress and the best thing about the movie Nine. Cotillard is able to bring real depth and emotion to this role as a woman who has been cheated on. When she shows up on-screen, she is able to bring a sense of history to this character. This is something that none of the other actresses in Nine is able to do.

5. Vera Farmiga as Alex Goran in Up in the Air: Farmiga has always been an actress I enjoyed seeing ever since her work in 2006’s The Departed. In this role she now gets a chance to shine. She is sexy, strong and intelligent. Like Kendrick, she is able to go head to head with Clooney which creates a unique chemistry between the two. The scene where the two first meet in the hotel bar is one of the great scenes of the year.

Honorable Mentions: Catherine Keener in Where the Things Are, Olivia Williams in An Education

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Mixing Zac Efron & Orson Welles Gets You a Good Movie

December 14, 2009 Leave a comment

What drove me to this film was not man boy superstar Zac Efron, but Orson Welles. Like every young cinephile there was a period when I was obsessed with Welles. I sought out every one of his film I could get my hands on. Welles remains an inspiration for all young wannabe filmmakers. Here is a man who at the age of 25 made the world’s greatest film, Citizen Kane. He remains a once in a life time iconic figure.

Director Richard Linklater’s “Me and Orson Welles” stars Zac Efron as a young high school student living in 1937 New York City. One day he encounters a young Orson Welles, played by newcomer Christian McKay, and is able to get cast in a small supporting part in the real life Mercury Theatre production of Julius Caesar. During the production of the play Efron falls for Claire Danes, who plays a career driven production assistant for the Mercury Theatre.

Christian McKay is terrific as Orson Welles. His Welles towers over the film. His dead on impression of Welles is able to capture the ego and brilliance of Welles. If you close your eyes you could swear that you are actually listening to the real life Orson Welles up on the screen. This performance deserves some serious awards consideration. McKay, in his first screen role, will forever be associated with the great director. He is able to fully bring to life this larger than life icon.

In comparison to Christian McKay, Zac Efron is really no match. This is not to say that Efron is bad in the film. He’s fine in his role. He seems very suited to the 1930’s type nostalgia that the film captures. Danes is also very good in her role as the aide who has no qualms with sleeping to the top.

Other than the great performance of McKay as Welles, the film itself is nothing special. However, the picture is quite entertaining and fun. It’s intriguing to see all the backstage politics and drama that goes into the production of the play. One great shot in the film is a long tracking shot of Welles walking into a radio station to record a radio play. That long take is able to capture the arrogance, trickery, charm and genius of Orson Welles.

3 Stars