Academy of One: Best Supporting Actor 2018

These are my opinions and feelings. I do not represent the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and I have no power to revoke or award Academy Awards. Consider this an alternate universe, where everything is the same except which movies get recognition and which should fade out. Also, SPOILER ALERT! I may be spilling major details about several films.

The last post in this series I took a big chance in forming an entirely new list, especially by taking out actors from popular films and replacing them with some much more interesting choices, but that's not necessarily what I'm attempting to do here. I'm not trying to say popular/high mid-budget films are bad and independent/low mid-budget films are always good. I just take my mission to suss out the overlooked seriously.

That being said, most of the men I took out last time were also from films that have nominees in this category as well and... I'll just dig into it and we will see what happens on the other side. Here are the original nominees.

  • Mahershala Ali - Green Book

  • Adam Driver - BlackKklansman

  • Sam Elliott - A Star is Born

  • Richard E. Grant - Can You Ever Forgive Me?

  • Sam Rockwell - Vice

Yes, there are definitely some actors I want to put forward as possible replacements. Here are a few of the actors I have in mind as replacements.

  • Josh Hamilton - Eighth Grade

  • Brian Tyree Henry - Widows

  • Nicholas Hoult - The Favourite

  • Michael B. Jordan - Black Panther

  • Daniel Kaluuya - Widows

  • Steven Yeun - Burning

This was a banner year for fathers on film. Especially single fathers. Josh Hamilton may be the pinnacle of that trend as he tries to navigate the depths of his daughter's transition from middle to high school in Eighth Grade. He hits the emotional beats with pitch perfect precision, humor and and incredible pathos. I loved every minute he was on screen.

Multifaceted is one of those buzz words that's thrown around a lot (especially by me). Yet, it is who Brian Tyree Henry is as an actor. I only picked one of his performances this year, but this recognition goes hand in hand with the incredible work he put into both his small scene in If Beale Street Could Talk and his incredible Jeff Davis in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

The women of The Favourite are superb, but Nicholas Hoult is delicious. His Harley is raunchy, cruel, devious, and duplicitous. It's great to watch him play in this world and so much against the type mainstream cinema wants to place him in.

The last time a villain from a superhero movie was nominated for an Oscar, he won, so why was Michael B. Jordan left out of the running? As Erik Killmonger, Jordan has an incredible story arc that he pulls off with the depth and ability he brings to every role.

Speaking of great villainous turns, Daniel Kaluuya pulls off the heroes cape from last year's Get Out to become the scariest gang enforcer on the block. His wide eyes can show us his innocence, but in Widows, they can become lamp shaded portals into the boredom the violence he inflicts on other people brings him. It's stark and wonderful that he's able to play against the type he might have been shoved into.

The antagonists just keep on coming. Steven Yeun plays aloof, but dangerous Ben in Burning. Like the fires he describes setting, Yeun smolders on the screen in this enigmatic and pivotal role. With one stare he convinces us all he's convinced us he has nothing to hide.

Now that you have seen my picks, here are the original nominees again.

  • Mahershala Ali - Green Book

  • Adam Driver - BlackKklansman

  • Sam Elliott - A Star is Born

  • Richard E. Grant - Can You Ever Forgive Me?

  • Sam Rockwell - Vice

O.K., based on the strength of the candidates I came up with, I can safely say I will be removing four of the five nominees from the list. I guess I'm getting more conservative as these posts go on.

Here's the easiest removal. Sam Rockwell won last year. Sam Rockwell is doing a passable impression of "W" with some really good makeup on. Sam Rockwell's two longest scenes are virtually the same in content with different settings. Sam Rockwell is barely in Vice. If Adam McKay wanted to just have someone goof on "W" he should have just hired his buddy Will Ferrell and not wasted Sam Rockwell's time.

Next, I'm going to take out Adam Driver. I think he's a very good actor and he makes the right moves here, but making the right moves doesn't make it a great or noteworthy performance. He's not even the most outstanding of the deep bench of the supporting cast of BlackKlansman.

This is the hard one, but I will have to take out Sam Elliott, for some of the same reasons as Sam Rockwell. He's not in the film a ton and the scenes he's in are great, but they're just not pivotal. It's not a strong role and there's not enough of it, he's just overshadowed in every way by his costars.

I hate to pull Mahershala Ali off of any list, but this is not a performance he should be remembered for. His performance boils down to the nag, the guy who doesn't like fun. It's truly sad because at the edges of the performance you can see who Dr. Shirley really was and how interesting his life is, but there's no real depth here that Ali's able to plumb. He got surface level research and is able to turn in a good performance for what material he was given, but it's not exemplary in the ways it should be.

With my removals taken care of, I will add my choices to the list. Here's what the field looks like now.

  • Josh Hamilton - Eighth Grade

  • Brian Tyree Henry - Widows

  • Nicholas Hoult - The Favourite

  • Richard E. Grant - Can You Ever Forgive Me?

  • Michael B. Jordan - Black Panther

So, now that I've made that off hand comment about Heath Ledger and his posthumous win for The Dark Knight, I'm going to be honoring Michael B. Jordan, right? Short answer, no.

Brian Tyree Henry was the outstanding supporting actor of this year. In everything he touched, he brought something exemplary. His fresh out of prison Daniel Carty in If Beale Street Could Talk carries the emotional heft of the brilliant scene he's in as he describes how the justice system failed him. Then there's his miraculous vocal performance that carries significant emotional weight in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Though, Widows is him at his peak.

Henry wades into the depths of Chicago politics and gang life as Jamal Manning. We see his boredom, his anger, his wheeling and dealing all play out throughout the film and Henry does it all with his face.

His best scene is when he invites himself into Viola Davis' Veronica's home. Henry runs that scene and that situation with power and grace. From the moment he gets in, Henry is in control. Even with a scene partner as good as Viola Davis, he's the only one you're watching. The scene builds and builds and culminates in Henry threatening the last thing that Davis' Veronica has left as he holds her dog by the scruff of its neck.

It's a powerful scene within a great performance and it shows off Henry's immense talent and his power at commanding the attention in any scene he's in.

All right, it looks like they’ve started the music. That wraps us up for this edition. So, between now and next time you can find me on Twitter @zyoungs108, you can like my Facebook page @zachyoungswrites, and visit the links on this site to where you can buy my self-published works.

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