Yesterday I began my reflection on the best acting performances from the turbulent 2020. I began with the Supporting Actress category and if you missed it you can read it HERE. Today it’s the men’s turn and just like the women they were several truly stand-out performances. Narrowing them down to five was no easy task, but those are the rules. So here we go with my top choices for Supporting Actor.
Honorable mentions: Leslie Odom, Jr. (“One Night in Miami…”), Ethan Hawke (“The Truth”), Orion Lee (“First Cow”), Alan S. Kim (“Minari”), David Strathairn (“Nomadland”), Robert Pattinson (“Tenet”), Johnny Depp (“Waiting on the Barbarians”)
#5 – Bo Burnham – “Promising Young Woman”
“Promising Young Woman” was a movie full of surprises. One of them was Bo Burnham who played an old college friend and potential love interest to Carey Mulligan’s Cassie. It’s a tricky role and Burnham brings humor and personality to a character who could have been utterly forgettable. Instead he plays a significant part in building up the film’s big final act punch.
#4 – Aldis Hodge – “One Night in Miami…”
He may not be the one mentioned most out of this film’s stellar ensemble, but Aldis Hodge maintains a commanding presence even though he’s the quietest of the film’s four stars. Hodge’s Jim Brown speaks volumes through subtle gestures and cutting expressions. And when he does speak, Hodge brings a quiet intensity that you can’t turn away from. I loved his performance and I wish more people were talking about it.
#3 – Frank Langella – “The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Several performances from Aaron Sorkin’s story of the Chicago 7 are being talked about this awards season. But few are mentioning screen veteran Frank Langella who is so devilishly good playing corrupt ￼Judge Julius Hoffman. The 83-year-old Langella is so believably cold and devious and he makes the film’s court scenes sizzle with tension. It’s an incredibly convincing performance that will likely make your blood boil.
#2 – Kingsley Ben-Adir – “One Night in Miami…”
Yes, here’s another performance from Regina King’s terrific “One Night in Miami…”. Kingsley Ben-Adir is stunningly good playing a conflicted Malcolm X at a pivotal crossroads in his life. Ben-Adir brings a compelling balance to Malcolm X, tackling his self-righteousness but also his clear-eyed conviction. Sure, this could be considered a lead performance. But with such a brilliant ensemble it’s hard to single out one as a “lead”. Whatever you call it, Ben-Adir drives the film with his unforgettable portrayal.
#1 – Bill Murray – “On the Rocks”
I’m always up for a Bill Murray performance. In “On the Rocks” Sofia Coppola gives him a character who is perfect for Murray’s infectious charms. Think about it, he plays a breezy and shamelessly wealthy charmer; a bonafide playboy with gender sensibilities better left in the 1970’s. Yet Murray makes this character seem so earnest, authentic and utterly irresistible. Of course he’s really funny too. I loved this performance so much.
That’s it for Supporting Actors. See you tomorrow as we move to the lead performances. And be sure to share your thoughts on my picks so far.