Best of 2019 – Supporting Actor


Yesterday I began my reflection on the best acting performances of 2018. The women started strong and now it’s the men’s turn to match. The Supporting Actor category had several truly stand-out performances and narrowing them down to five wasn’t easy. But those are the rules so here are my choices for Supporting Actor.

#5 – Tom Hanks (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”)


When I first heard Tom Hanks would be playing Mister Rogers my first reaction was “Well of course. Who else?” And as expected he delivers a knock-out performance. At first it resembles an impersonation but within mere seconds Hanks has us believing he is Fred Rogers. It’s a performance so in tune with Mister Rogers, his gentle mannerisms, and the innate kindness he was known for.

#4 – Jamie Foxx (“Just Mercy”)


Jamie Foxx is an actor who may be best known for his comedy, but “Just Mercy” reminds us that he is no slouch when it comes to dramatic turns. He plays a wrongfully convicted black man sentenced to death in 1986 Alabama. Foxx brings several unexpected layers to his character from sorrow and despondency to hopeful and inspirational. I haven’t always been high on Foxx, but here he is exactly what his role needs.

#3 – Sterling K. Brown (“Waves”)


“Waves” is a crushing family drama driven by thoughtful characters and moving performances. None are as complex and layered as Sterling K. Brown’s stirring portrait of a stern but loving father. His character could have easily been the film’s antagonist but he’s hardly that shallow. Brown gives us someone whose motivations are rooted in the pains of his past and his determination to keep his son from experiencing them.

#2 – Joe Pesci (“The Irishman”)


Stepping into a role after almost ten years of retirement and delivering this quality of work is really impressive. Joe Pesci is pretty comfortable in the gangster genre, but this isn’t some rehash of a character he has played before. Here he’s dialed back, focused, and has an almost grandfatherly presence despite working in a world characterized by its violence. It’s such a great performance.

#1 – Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)


One of favorite 2019 performances from ANY category came from the ageless 56-year-old Brad Pitt. You couldn’t find a better fit to play Cliff Booth, an easy-going stuntman living the life in 1969 Los Angeles. Pitt is dripping with charisma, has an endlessly cool charm, and can also be really funny. I absolutely love this performance and it should earn Pitt the much deserved first acting Oscar of his career.

That’s it for the supporting categories. Tomorrow we begin our look at the leads. What do you think of my picks? Please let me know in the comments section below.

15 thoughts on “Best of 2019 – Supporting Actor

    • You know, I think you’re exactly right. I’ve always felt he was a bit underrated despite his hunky movie star reputation. He has a lot of really good performances under his belt over the years. I can’t wait for you to see him here. He is so much fun.

  1. A great list, I especially dig the nod to Sterling K. Brown. My heart just ached for that man. Waves was such a powerful movie, I loved it. It just may make my Top 3 this year. I never did get around to seeing A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which really surprises me. I don’t know how I missed it.

    I did however just last night see Uncut Gems and I have to agree, I’m not usually one to notice how many swear words are in a movie — but that movie was truly excessive. Honestly I had a hard time getting over it.

    • Thanks man. I really liked Waves and it would have absolutely made my year-end list if the second half was as effective for me as the first. I thought it wandered a bit with the boyfriend’s daddy issues. I kept wanting it to get back to this hurting central family. Still Brown was phenomenal. You nailed it, your heart does ache for him.

      As for Uncut Gems, I hear ya! I can navigate language but in UG it seemed so forced and it really dumbed down the dialogue for me.

  2. I agree with Brad and Joe. Someone else I liked a lot that unfortunately hasn’t been mentioned in any award show is Hamish Linklater for UNICORN STORE. I haven’t seen A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD (you did a nice mashup title with the documentary, by the way), WAVES nor JUST MERCY. The latter is scheduled to come out here at the end of the month, but the other 2 don’t even have a distribuot.

    [Spoilers ahead for DR. SLEEP!]

    Ever since Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for a movie he appeared in for a total of 15 minutes, people have pointed out that screentime doesn’t matter as long as you make an impact. Well, Jacob Tremblay’s cameo was award-worthy IMHO.

    • HAHAHA! Thanks for pointing it out. Clealry speed-proofing didn’t work this time around.

      Interesting choice with Tremblay. There is no denying that his key scene is absolutely terrifying. Good call.

  3. From what I’ve seen so far…

    1. Brad Pitt-Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
    2. Sam Rockwell-Jojo Rabbit
    3. Chris Evans-Knives Out
    4. Christopher Plummer-Knives Out
    5. Chris Cooper-Little Women

    Honorable Mentions: Paul Rudd-Avengers: Endgame, Jake Gyllenhaal-Spider-Man: Far from Home, Samuel L. Jackson-Captain Marvel & Spider-Man: Far from Home, Alan Alda & Ray Liotta-Marriage Story, Winston Duke-Us, & Tommy Lee Jones-Ad Astra.

  4. still need to see the wave and Just Mercy, but the other three are definitely great. hanks would be my #2 right after Pitt eventhough I could make a case for Hanks being #1 also

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