2010 Calvin Awards: Best Cast

February 9, 2010

When the world finds out their political affiliation, all of their careers are over.

This year, our runaway winners for Best Cast are the actors in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, which relies heavily on its ensemble cast to both drive the action and to believably perform the dialogue-heavy screenplay. Just consider the fact that some of the character names in the film are instantly memorable – Lt. Aldo Raine, Col. Hans Landa, The Bear Jew, Hugo Stiglitz and Bridget von Hammersmark. Without the solid work from Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth, Til Schweiger and Diane Kruger, none of that would be possible. And that doesn't even account for additional great acting turns from Melanie Laurent, Daniel Bruhl, Michael Fassbender and Martin Wuttke. Both the Basterds and the Nazis were fully brought to life on the big screen, and even though we know who the good guys are, we're repulsed by their actions, too. Yet, we still root for them, and it's a credit to the cast that we do.

Second place goes to the gang from The Hangover, as they completely delivered on the promise that a great premise offered. The main trio of Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms kept us cracking up throughout the movie, while Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, Mike Epps and yes, Mike Tyson all added their own personalities to the proceedings. With Cooper playing a guy who's more complex than he seems, Galifianakis portraying a guy who we ought to hate but don't and Helms filling in as the every-dude, there was someone any audience member could relate to. Bring on the sequel!

Next up is The Hurt Locker in third place, as key performances from Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty put us in the center of action in Iraq. We suffer with them and we boggle at the audacity of Renner's Sergeant William James as he eagerly risks his life as well as that of his team. There are also appearances in the film by Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes and David Morse, and I can promise you that there is nothing expected or ordinary about any of them.

It's a little tougher for a small cast to break through in this category, but Up in the Air does so nonetheless. George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick are simply marvelous in the film, and deserve all the accolades they are receiving. Clooney has never been so vulnerable, Farmiga feels like someone who might be a friend, co-worker or neighbor, and Kendrick proves that the horrible acting in the Twilight series might not be a function of the talent involved in the films. Jason Bateman co-stars as a dorky, waffling boss, and director Jason Reitman also used a variety of people who had actually lost their jobs to play people about to be fired. It makes for a powerful film that feels somehow both timeless and relevant to current events.


Slotting in a fifth place is a movie with a massive cast that had a heavy-duty task on its hands. Most of the actors in Star Trek had to reprise roles that are already considered practically archetypal, and they were happily more than up to the challenge. Chris Pine transformed James T. Kirk to a new man of action for our time, while Zachary Quinto effortlessly slipped into the skin of Spock. Karl Urban might have been the best of all in the film as the wisecracking Dr. McCoy, and John Cho and Anton Yelchin breathed new life into Chekov and Sulu. Zoe Saldana, who had a banner year, made Uhura smart and vulnerable at the same time, while BOP fave Simon Pegg became Scotty. Eric Bana was a solid villain, and Leonard Nimoy even appeared as Spock Prime (from a different timeline). What a credit to all these performers that Trekkers and non-fans alike were thrilled with the results.

Sixth and seventh go to very, very different movies in Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Precious has a strong ensemble cast that surprises with the depth of emotion they portray. Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe has turned heads with her portrayal of the title character, and people are wondering where the Mo'Nique in this movie came from (certainly not Soul Plane!). Mariah Carey, Paula Patton and even Lenny Kravitz are all driving forces behind the film's success. Harry Potter 6 has an even bigger cast to keep all its moving parts flowing, with series stalwarts Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Tom Felton really growing into their roles. Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman and Robbie Coltrane continue their solid work, and Jim Broadbent as Slughorn and Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood are simply marvelous. Special notice should also go to Jessie Cave, who is hilarious as Lavender Brown.

We close out the top ten with State of Play, In the Loop and Zombieland. For State of Play, Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck play the key characters, but the support they receive from Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman (again!) and Jeff Daniels brings the movie to something several notches above standard thriller fare. There are no true "lead performers" in In the Loop, so the sum of its parts had to be pretty spectacular. Led by a phenomenal turn by Peter Capaldi, the movie also has solid acting from Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, Anna Chlumsky, Mimi Kennedy, David Rasche and Paul Higgins. Finally, Zombieland leaves us lost in admiration for the work of Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin (not to mention the appearance by a certain actor we won't spoil).

Casts who just missed the top ten include Fantastic Mr. Fox, Away We Go, Avatar, Funny People and the Brothers Bloom. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Best Breakthrough Performance
Best Cast
Best Director
Best DVD
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Best Videogame
Worst Performance
Worst Picture

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