Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2008 Diva Cup Awards: Best Supporting Actor

Josh Brolin
Milk
With a character that could have gone wrong in so many ways in the hands of the wrong actor, Josh Brolin gets nearly everything right (I shudder to think of what Tom Cruise, one of Van Sant's original choices, would have done here). The role has a multitude of different dimensions to it--the fun-loving frat guy, the political "good ole boy," the seemingly secure guy who's not completely comfortable in his skin and, finally, the cold, chilly psychopath--and Brolin seamlessly synthesizes all of these components into one complex character. Brolin's winning performance here is proof that he has the capacity to be one of the most versitile actors working today.

Robert Downey, Jr.
Tropic Thunder
A dude playing a dude disguised as another dude. This description of Robert Downey, Jr.'s performance in Tropic Thunder was, besides Heath Ledger winning, the most consistent thing we saw at this year's awards circuit. It's obvious that the writers of these shows were at a loss for words on how to describe such an out-there nomination as this one and were forced to recycle this same line over and over again. This might have been a problem if this weren't the most perfect way to describe Robert Downey, Jr.'s creation here. The performance is so layered with different types of comedic and acting styles that only an actor with RDJ's varied filmography could have pulled it off nearly as well as this.

Emile Hirsch
Milk
When Emile Hirsch's name rolled around on the opening credits of Milk, I involuntarily sighed in exasperation. For some reason, after Into the Wild, the young actor's almost desperate desire to be taken seriously as an actor had gotten on my nerves. And from what I had heard about the role- a gay rights activist fighting for his basic human rights- it looked like it was going to be more of the same crap. Then, something unexpected happened: Emile opened up and showed us a side of him we've never seen before (or at least I haven't). He was funny, engaging, bitchy, touching, endearing and a whole mess of emotions I've never associated with him before. In fact, any preconceived notion I had of Hirsch was promptly forgotten after this thoughtfully handled performance and now I am actually looking forward to see what he is offering up next.

Bill Irwin
Rachel Getting Married
Bill Irwin's big-hearted father doesn't get as many big, look-at-me moments as his daughters do over the course of Rachel Getting Married, so he is forced to do most of his acting quietly and from the sidelines. This suits Irwin because it allows him to do some of the most vivid supporting work of the year without distracting from the "main attractions." Who can forget the eternally optimistic spin he can put on any moment, his absolutely unbridled joy at Rachel's announcement after the rehearsal dinner or his scrunched up face during his crying jag after Kym's return from the hair salon? He's the adoring father with abundant unconditional love to give out that every body would love to have.

Brad Pitt
Burn After Reading
Brad Pitt, for me anyways, is an actor who's always a pleasing screen presence, but I'd be hard-pressed (Fight Club aside) to think of a performance of his that's truly proved he has much acting talent. At first glance, Burn After Reading appeared to be yet another role that relied more on Pitt's natural movie star charisma than any real talent. Then, he appeared in his first scene and he made me laugh. Second scene, same result. Third time, here we go again. By the time we get to the moment where Pitt's Chad Feldheimer is sitting in the car, just staring at John Malkovich's character with a full minute of idiotic/hilarious facial expressions, I knew this was Brad's shining moment as an actor.

If Only There Were Six: Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road

Rest of the Top 10: Aaron Eckhart, The Dark Knight...Gael Garcia Bernal, Blindness...Richard Dreyfuss, W....Ben Foster, Birds of America

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder

3 comments:

Glenn said...

My five is Franco (Milk), Hirsch, Ledger, Pitt and the fifth spot is still up for grabs. I'm leaning towards Dennis Hopper in Elegy, but perhaps Steve Le Marquand from Aussie flick Men's Group or Ralph Fiennes for In Bruges? Nothin' really jumps at me yet.

Dame James Henry said...

It seems rather odd to me that as strong as 2008's Best Supporting Actor contenders were, everyone seems to be going with the same 7 or 8. Nothing wrong with that, I just find it funny (although I do appreciate you, Glenn, for going against the pack with your last pick). Did you not like RDJ in Tropic Thunder or did you just skip the movie?

Oh, I forgot to mention this in the post: rest assured, Heath Ledger will make an appearance later on. I decided at the last minute to move him up to Best Actor because it felt like a Hannibal Lecter to me (limited screentime but packs such a wallop they become a lead by default).

Kamikaze Camel said...

I figured he was in your lead category.

I always find Supporting Actor to be the weakest and least interesting category each and every year. Not sure why, it just always ends up that way :/

I liked RDJ just not nomination-worthy for me. He's about 10th in my list.