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.