Each year I set aside time to examine and spotlight what I think are the best performances of the past movie year. In keeping with the upcoming Oscars I have adopted their format and for the next several days I’ll be highlighting the very best performances for each of the four acting categories. Today we look at Supporting Actors. It was incredibly hard to whittle down, but these are my five picks.
#5 – Michael Shannon (“Nocturnal Animals”)
Talk about an actor with an incredible knack for stealing scenes. Michael Shannon is often the most captivating character on the screen. You could say the real-life Shannon is a touch unhinged – a quality that feeds into many of his fascinating characters. It’s certainly true for “Nocturnal Animals”. He hits every batty, off-beat note and as he often does, he steals every scene he shares.
#4 – Tom Bennett (“Love & Friendship”)
I literally can’t think about Tom Bennett’s performance in Whit Stillman’s brilliant “Love & Friendship” without laughing. Bennett’s lovable goofball offers up the film’s broadest comedy, but he also gives us some of the funniest scenes of the year. His bits on English peas and “Church-Hill” are pure comedy gold. It’s a lighter role than others, but no less impressive.
#3 – Kevin Costner (“Hidden Figures”)
And to think until I saw it I had no idea Kevin Costner was in “Hidden Figures”. Costner has long been a favorite of mine, an actor as reliable as they come. Here he brings a steady and obvious assurance to his role. His performance resembles a classic form of acting, not showy, but one that allows his veteran acting chops to do the heavy lifting. He was a highlight in a film filled with great performances.
#2 – Hugo Weaving (“Hacksaw Ridge”)
I’ve been surprised at how few people have talked about Hugo Weaving’s piercing performance in Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge”. The very few comments I’ve read have been mixed, but I feel Weaving is both brutal and devastating as a father dealing with a truckload of emotional baggage. It’s deeply moving and reveals a side of Weaving I wasn’t expecting.
#1 – Dev Patel (“Lion”)
Here is an actor I’ve always enjoyed but who is rarely (if ever) considered a “leading man”. In “Lion” his performance is hard to categorize. It is a supporting role, but he is very much the lead in the film’s second half. He’s also a significant reason the movie has such an emotional pull. Patel takes his character through inner turmoil and conflict while never hitting a false note. It’s a captivating performance, and it’s good to see him getting awards season attention.
So there are my favorite supporting actor turns of 2016. We will look at the leads in the next few days. What do you think of these picks? What would have made your list? Let me hear it in the comments section below.