Yesterday I began my look back on the best performances of 2021. We started with the Supporting Actress category and today we follow it up with Supporting Actor. Much like the ladies, this is a category rich with great performances from a wide variety of movies. So lets get to it starting with a few honorbale mentions who just missed the cut.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Rob Morgan (“Don’t Look Up”), Ciarán Hinds (“Belfast”), Jon Bernthal (“King Richard”), Willem Dafoe (“Nightmare Alley”), David Strathairn (“Nightmare Alley”), Richard Jenkins (“The Humans”), Woody Norman (“C’mon C’mon”), Jamie Dornan (“Belfast”)
#5 – Troy Kotsur (“CODA”)
It has been great seeing my critic colleagues from across the nation sharing this pick. Troy Kotsur’s performance in the surprisingly wonderful “CODA” could have been an easy one to overlook. Thankfully people have taken notice and now Kotsur has a legitimate shot at an Oscar nomination. He gives a performance so sincere and full of life. And the way he represents the hearing impaired community is inspiring. If you haven’t seen “CODA”, you should.
#4 – Jason Isaacs – (“Mass”)
There were so many powerful performances this past year, but few moved me quite like Jason Isaacs work in the heart-rending drama “Mass”. While the film relies on its incredible ensemble, Isaacs’ performance spoke to me the most. He brings a raw and pained intensity to the film’s heavy subject matter and you feel the emotion in every word he shares. The entire cast blew me away, but it was Isaacs who I really connected with.
#3 – Ben Affleck (“The Tender Bar”)
I think the most scene-stealing actor out of this year’s batch may be none other than Ben Affleck. He could easily have made this list for his work in Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel”. But I’m going with the George Clooney directed “The Tender Bar”. Affleck is a captivating presence, swiping every scene he’s in and bringing a relatable down-to-earth personality that Clooney wisely utilizes. He’s terrific.
#2 – J.K. Simmons (“Being the Ricardos”)
Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos” was a nice surprise. Of course it had Sorkin’s signature snappy dialogue. But it was the performances that stole the show. One of the best of the group came from the always reliable J.K. Simmons who played the surly but secretly compassionate William Frawley. Simmons loses himself in the role (as he often does) and really captures his character. Easily one of my favorites of the year.
#1 – Mike Faist (“West Side Story”)
Hands down one of my favorite things about the fabulous “West Side Story” was Mike Faist. Full disclosure: I wasn’t familiar with Faist prior to this, but his eye-opening work in Steven Spielberg’s musical remake/adaptation blew my mind. Not only is he boiling over with charisma, but his performance has a modern day edge yet feels like something that could have been yanked from the 1961 film. There were several great performances in “West Side Story”, but Faist’s was tops on my list.
Come back tomorrow when I look at the Lead Actress Category