Wednesday, January 12, 2011

LeapBackBlog 2010 Film Awards – Part 2: Supporting Performances

Film in 2010 was fantastic, full of great performances, great directing and great work behind the camera (or in post-production). More so than the last few years, 2010 had a greater number of excellent films, which made choosing the best films, performances, directors, and technical achievements very difficult. The LeapBackBlog Film Awards are comprised of what I think were the best and most interesting films, the strongest performances (taking into consideration who the actor is and what else they have done, and 2010 features a lot of amazing breakthrough performances), the narrative style that drew me in (best directing), and exquisite craftsmanship (best technical achievements). But really, these are lists of my favorites from the year.

Supporting Performances:

Bale is a fantastic actor, becoming the characters he portrays. In The Fighter he does not so much play a role or portray a character, rather he is Dickie Eklund. It is the performance of the year (along with Claire Danes in Temple Grandin). What makes it so good, aside from Bale’s uncanny ability to transform himself completely into each character, is that we sort of root for Dickie even though he can be thought of as one of the film’s villains (in a sense). Dickie sort of becomes the hero of the piece due directly to Bale’s brilliance and the empathy he elicits.

Carter is known for her whimsical and dark characters. She is, however, very versatile. In The King’s Speech, she is very restrained and modest, but still inserts a bit of her mischievousness into the character, though subtly. It is my favorite supporting actress performance of the year. Carter had a good year, also giving great performances in Harry Potter in the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Alice in Wonderland.

Cotillard is beautiful, and she uses her allure well in her performances. In Inception, she plays the villain, but a sympathetic one – her performances plays as tragic and powerful, a difficult mix. The film has wonderful performances and characters throughout, but her performance is the most important as it is the emotional core driving Cobb’s decisions, and Cotillard plays it amazingly well.

What a year for Garfield! He starred in two of the best films (The Social Network and Never Let Me Go), was amazing as the lead in Red Riding: 1974 and won the role of Peter Parker in the new Spider-Man film. But it is his performance in The Social Network as Eduardo Saverin that stands out. The character is an unfortunate one, getting betrayed and left behind. Garfield plays the role as soft and heartfelt, a real likable guy, making the deception and villainy of Sean Parker and Zuckerberg all the more powerful. He, along with the amazing performance by Rooney Mara in the opening scene, provides the catalyst for all the other performances, especially Jessie Eisenberg’s, to build off of, resulting in it being a great film (and I have to say Armie Hammer was fantastic in the film too).

Hall plays her characters to be sweet and loving, but there is still a strong woman in there too. This comes out in The Town. She is traumatized by what happens to her in the beginning, but is strong enough to not only overcome it, but actively stand up to other strong characters and performances in the film. Hall has the brunt of the emotional work to do in the film, while also needing to have the audience fall in love with her, as the main character does. She does all these things flawlessly, making the film all the more better and emotionally impactful.

Hardy has a breakout performance in Inception. He plays his role as Eames, the forger, as if he was James Bond, and it is brilliant. His bravado mixed well with the array of characters and acting talent. The interplay between his character and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Arthur is funny and a bonus to a great action-thriller. Director Christopher Nolan must have thought his performance was great too, casting him in his next film: The Dark Knight Rises.

Harris is deranged and downright scary in Red Reding: 1980. This is the kind of role he plays exceptionally well (as can also be seen in Harry Brown). His Bob Craven is a crooked cop that is slimy, squirrely and just despicable. Yet, he commands the attention of the viewer, as he is like lit dynamite – you are nervous and anxious watching, but cannot look away as the devastation it will leave in its wake fascinates you.

Leo completely transforms into her character in The Fighter. She is strong and sort of awful, yet still emits compassion and love. She will make the viewer hate her and in the next moment symphonize and then hate her again. What makes the performance all the more impressive is that she holds her own against very strong performances from Christian Bale and Amy Adams. Just like with Frozen River, Leo distinguishes herself as one of the top actresses in Hollywood (though, she typically sticks to indy films).

Renner has been acting in tons of stuff for years, but it was 2009’s The Hurt Locker that put him on the radar of movie-goers and industry professionals. In The Town, he is excellent. He has such an edge to him in the film that anything seems possible at any moment. His performance alone will keep the audience enthralled and on pins and needles. Many who saw the film complained that there was not enough of him in it – certainly a complement to his talent.

Wong probably is not going to make too many 2010 “best of the year” lists I suspect, but she should. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World represents her first major acting role and she is simply brilliant as Knives Chau. Her spunk and adorableness make every scene she is in better. The film features great work from an ensemble cast, but Wong and Kieran Culkin are the standouts. Director Edgar Wright liked her performance so much he adapted the ending of the movie as to not leave her character hurt (emotionally). Personally, I look forward to her future work.

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