2011 in Film (Best Supporting Actor)

There have been better years for supporting male performances, that being said – the Oscars got it all wrong. Some of the nominated performances were huge misses for me – and the fact they left some of these off really offends me quite bit. Here’s my comprehensive look at the best supporting male performances of the year.

RUNNER’S UP

*Hunter Mccracken* – The Tree of Life
*Keifer Sutherland* – Melancholia
*Phillip Seymore Hoffman* – The Ides of March
*Ezra Miller* – Another Happy Day
*Stellan Skarsgaard* – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

All of these fine men turned in wonderful performances this year. As the center of the family in Tree of Life, Hunter McCracken turned in the best teen performance of the year. Keifer Sutherland proved he is back in business with a stark and subdued performance in Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. Phillip Seymoure Hoffman proves again he can do no wrong as a cutthroat political strategist in Ides of March (he was also great in Moneyball). Ezra Miller had a stellar year as well turning in a performance as the sons from hell in both We Need to Talk About Kevin and the under seen Another Happy Day. And finally the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo wouldn’t have contained as much of a tense punch if it weren’t for the terrifying work from Stellan Skarsgaard (also great in Melancholia).

#10 – Albert Brooks – Drive

Uh-oh, here comes trouble. The comedian couldn’t be found anywhere in Albert Brooks threatening performance in Drive. An excellent movie all around, Brooks brought a level of danger to an already dangerous film. Some of his one-liners in this film rank among the best lines of the year.

#9 – Sasha Baron Cohen – Hugo

In a role which screams typical Baron Cohen quirkyness – Sasha turned the tables on us. His character in this film has as much heart as the adorable children, or the recluse old filmmaker. Bringing the movies big laughs is easy for him, but making the villainous character lovable and  likable takes true talent. I loved a lot about this movie, but I believe I may have loved him most.

#8 – John Hawkes – Martha Marcy May Marlene

Following his stunning performance in Winter’s Bone, Hawke’s returns as another backwoods character you won’t soon forget. Here he channeled his inner David Koresh as a dangerous cult leader. The miraculous part about the performance is that he provides the audience with the charm needed to prove the point of why people followed this man. Also his song which he performs, is the best scene in the film.

#7 – Nick Nolte – Warrior

This performance is one which could get Nick Nolte back in the mix. It seems to be a performance which hit quite home to the man himself. Nolte is well known for his struggles with drugs and alcohol – so playing the father who is struggling to stay sober I am sure was quite a painful experience. But from pain comes moments of true perfection – of which Nolte gives in spades. His best work in years.

#6 – Patton Oswalt – Young Adult

This movie was criminally overlooked! In a shockingly funny yet mean script, there was a lump of gold sitting right in between all of the selfishness of the characters – and that was comedian Patton Oswalt. Building upon what he started in the film Big Fan, Oswalt really shows he has dramatic chops. Who would have ever thought of him next to the glamazon Charlize Theron, in a romantic-ish relationship? Well it works – to a heartbreaking level.

#5 – David Henshall – Snowtown

Out of all the “dangerous men” on this list .. no one holds a candle to Henshall’s John Bunting. This is the performance I wouldn’t recommend to everyone, because I do not know if everyone could handle it. I’ve seen many films that try to delve into showing us a realistic portrait of a serial killer – I doubt there’s been one in the last 10 years that feels as realistic as this. Watch at your own risk – but it surely is a brilliant performance.

#4 – David Rauchenberger – Michael 

11 year old Rauchenberger turns in a performance that many will never give in their entire career. As the captive of pedophile Michael (the title character), Rauchenberger handles insanely difficult and mature material in a sensitive and mature way which highly surpass his age. I am hearing this movie is getting a wide release very soon, and my hope is that you will hunt it out.

#3 – Michael Parks – Red State

Here we go, another nutter! But this is something altogether different. Growing up in the South I have come into contact with many a nutty preacher – none hold a candle to Abin Cooper. A replica of the true life Phelp’s family clan – Abin is like all of them wrapped into one. This is a no-holds-barred over-the-top insane performance – and it works oh so well. I am honestly shocked that he didn’t get more attention. I think people ran away from this movie because it assaults religion, because Kevin Smith may not be “the cool guy” he once was, and it was billed as a horror film. I beg of you to give it a shot – its a great film and this is an award worthy performance. His opening sermon alone deserves an award.

#2 – Christopher Plummer – Beginners

Oscars pretty much got it right here. Plummer is a fantastic actor, and has been for many of his 82 years. However he truly has given his career best performance in Beginners as the newly out father. After his wife’s death, he is now able to live the life he has always wanted – as a gay man. Plummer brings his own life experience to a role that couldn’t be more different to himself on paper. The character and Plummer mold into one and the performance is one that won’t keep a dry eye in the house. Bravo to you Mr. Plummer!

#1 – Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life

Speaking of turning in career best performances, Brad Pitt did just that this year. No, not in Moneyball, but in The Tree of Life. As the father of the world’s “first family” Pitt made me think of my own father. Those moments where he loved me so much, those moments he tried to make me tough, those moments he made me mad, those moments he made me proud, etc. And the fact of never being able to “be the man your father is” was all there. With very little dialogue and elongated screen time – Pitt gets across emotions that have taken a lifetime to build. This performance is a marvel.

Now it’s your turn!
What do you think of my choices?
Who’s your pick?