Sunday, January 27, 2008

The boys who came in sixth

It feels awful to post anything above that picture of Heath, so I hope I've managed a respectful pause before saying: I know I'm not the first to point this out, but wow, what a great year 2007 was for supporting actors. If this is some indication of how good, Heath Ledger himself was borderline-great in I'm Not There and he still got nowhere my list. My final five took an unusual amount of whittling down this year, so I've been planning to give a shout out to a few more fellas who were jostling for a slot, and who at various times (right after I'd seen their movies, usually) would have made it in. 

I was this close to singling out Vlad Ivanov in 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days for playing the anti-Vera Drake, an abortionist less likely to ply you with tea than, well, drown you in it. Sydney Pollack was nearly in, too, for doing his Changing Lanes thing again in Michael Clayton and being so unpretentiously perfect at it that he's the second best thing in the movie. If I had to pick one actor from the I'm Not There ensemble and we weren't counting the ladies, it would have been Bruce Greenwood, whose BBC interviewer, unlike Geraldine Chaplin in Nashville, actually seemed like a BBC interviewer, and visibly relished being an uncool foil to the whole film's studiously constructed Dylan-ishness.

Excellent though Casey Affleck was in The Assassination of Jesse James..., I think it's a pity no one's noticed how good, and how much more genuinely supporting, Sam Rockwell is in the background of half his scenes -- Robert Ford can whinge on about being overshadowed, but imagine being Charley. 

On a second viewing I'll concede that Paul Dano's acting in There Will Be Blood wobbles a little towards the end, but he's not budging from my list, not even in favour of the eerily still Dillon Freasier or -- though it's close -- the shabby, sad-eyed, more-cadaverous-than-ever Kevin J O'Connor, an actor I've long loved, for giving away all his character's secrets in that beach scene while outwardly hiding them and barely moving a muscle.

Two other actors had astonishing moments but not quite enough screen time to crack the big five. I'll find it hard to think back on 2007 without remembering William Hurt's single-shot collapse onto the street at the end of Into the Wild, the single most powerful thing I've ever seen him do. Nor will I quickly forget the year's most inspired line reading, which came courtesy of eighth-billed Benedict Cumberbatch in his big Atonement paedo creepathon: "You have to bite it..."

UPDATE: Oops, and I missed off Devid Striesow, not only a capable lead in Yella but a smiling wonder as the cherubic Nazi officer in The Counterfeiters. Sorry Devid!


Cal said...

Sydney Pollack and Sam Rockwell will probably just miss my lists too. Was blown away by Ivanov though! He was frighteningly manipulative. Amazing.

Delirium's Librarian said...

Also a shout-out to Alexandru Potocean for the thankless but essential role of boyfriend Adi in 4 months; second time round, his scene in the bedroom with Gabi was frighteningly brilliant. And did Charlotte Gainsbourg really not make the list for her luminous turn in I'm Not There? I wanted a whole film about her character, Dylan be damned.

tim r said...

Check out Supporting Actress, lower down!

nick plowman said...

I am in total agreeance about Sam Rockwell, he was AMAZING.