I wrote this piece for The Large Association of Movie Blogs annual 'LAMB Devours the Oscars.'
This year I'm taking a look at the Best Supporting Actor race. I'm going to highlight 3 things that each actor brought to the table in their respective films.
Barkhad Abdi: Captain Phillips
1) It has to be pointed out that this guy was a cab driver in Minneapolis prior to this. I love stories like his, this is his first (and only) role, and he gets recognition on the biggest stage of them all. That is impressive.
2) The Pirates in this film could've easily been one dimensional nobodies. This film really was the Tom Hanks show, everyone could've played 2nd fiddle. But Abdi didn't. He made us feel for Muse. What he was doing was wrong, but he humanized him and convinced us that not only was he to be feared, but he was extremely conflicted.
3) Plus you know, Hanks got snubbed, so technically Abdi IS the captain now. (He's also the only actor not nominated with his lead)
Bradley Cooper: American Hustle
1) Richie was crazy. Let's not sugar coat it, he was insane. Bradley took him to his highs and lows with ease. I still think the scene where he finds out Edith is actually Sydney is his best in the film. It's quite extraordinary when you can see people go to extremes like that.
2) For his part in this conversation: "I knew it! Your brother fell through the ice!" "No, he died a different way many years later!"
3) Those little pink hair curlers. I see a trend of dudes with awful hair do's giving great performances.
Michael Fassbender: 12 Years A Slave
1) With all of the Slave owners in this film, Fassbender's Epps was the scariest. The look he had in his eyes when he gently accuses Solomon of trying to get a white man to deliver a letter for him, or when he keeps his hands on Patsey's shoulders for a beat too long is terrifying.
2) When he takes these acts a step further, it gets even more terrifying.
3) Fassbender is such a strong actor. He was ignored for his career best work in Shame by the Academy, and this year he proves that even though he won't play their game, he can't be ignored. He's just that good.
Jonah Hill: The Wolf of Wall Street
1) I have a hard time deciding which bits of Donnie's dialogue are my favorites. He has so many memorable ones. His excuse for marrying his cousin, his "Mayor of F**ksville" comment. No one could've delivered these lines like Jonah Hill.
2) It's funny, I was actually getting sick of Hill for awhile. I thought he played the same goofy characters in comedies over and over. Then along came Moneyball and his first Oscar nomination, and I started to look at him differently. Now we have his hilarious performance in This Is The End, and his newly Oscar nominated one in WOWS, and frankly, he can't be stopped. We can no longer laugh about 'Academy Award Nominee Jonah Hill' This guy deserves all this praise he's getting.
3) The Quaaludes scene. Sure, that was mostly DiCaprio's, but someone had to take that beating/saving? and who better than Jonah Hill. I cannot wait to re-watch this film.
Jared Leto: Dallas Buyers Club
1) They physical transformation is the first to come to mind. The weight loss, the make up, the waxing, Leto was nearly unrecognizable. Dropping to a dangerous weight like that is something I don't think I could ever do if I was an actor. You definitely have to have a certain sized pair of stones to pull something that potentially hazardous off.
2) Rayon was actually kind of hilarious. I wasn't expecting DBC to have very many light hearted moments, but Rayon brought plenty. My personal favorite is the little picture of himself he snuck in the bathroom.
3) Leto has always been a fascinating actor to me, but we haven't seen him around in awhile. He's been focusing on his band, but with DBC, he reminds us of the presence he once had, and makes us look forward to him in more films.