2011 Calvin Awards: Best Supporting Actor

February 17, 2011

Someone likes to watch.

This was a landmark year for supporting acting performances. This led to a rare accord amongst our voters about the best of the best as seven different roles garnered enough attention to receive what would have been a winning total for the category just a few years ago. Oddly, the top six selections in this category were mentioned on over 80% of the ballots, an unprecedented sign of agreement from a group of people who can’t even reach a consensus on who the best Blues Brother is. In the end, our top three separated themselves from the pack, but the winner of the category was not determined until the final ballot. We were this enthusiastic about all three of the finest supporting actors of the year.

BOP loves junkies and we as a group have determined that the only thing that would make such a drug addict more engaging would be violent tendencies. Our thirst for blood requires us to select Christian Bale’s portrayal of flawed boxer Dicky Eklund as the Best Supporting Actor role of the year. Bale has made a career out of going to extremes as an actor, bulking up or losing unhealthy amounts of weight as is required. Oddly, he is asked to do both in The Fighter, showing enough musculature to prove believable as a boxer capable of knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard while staying gaunt enough to pass as a crack addict.


The fact that this is required speaks volumes about how much is asked of Bale as an actor. Eklund’s story is just that novel. As chronicled in an HBO special entitled High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell, Eklund’s career careened from his being the “Pride of Lowell”, a moniker used to announce him in the ring, to being a desperate user who wound up sentenced to prison for 10 years for Armed Robbery. His life is the way heists ordinarily work out in the area as opposed to what is on display in The Town. Despite his life falling apart, Eklund still managed to provide tutelage to his half-brother, Micky Ward, who evolved into a much more established boxer, winning two world championships. Bale makes the character his own by relaying the circumstances through which a hero-worshipped mama’s boy lacking in wits could overcome his crippling personality flaws long enough to aid his brother. Bale went through one of the worst public relations disasters in two years ago due to his commitment to his craft (and acting like a jackass), but his acting range remains the gold standard in our industry. He is a worthy choice to be Best Supporting Actor of the year.

Narrowly missing victory for his work in Winter’s Bone is long time BOP favorite John Hawkes. This was a banner year for former Deadwood cast members as Timothy Olyphant found acclaim on his new television series, Justified, Ian McShane earned the prize role of Blackbeard the villain in the next Pirates of the Caribbean film and Hawkes proved himself yet again as the thinking man’s actor. While his role as Teardrop is not significant in terms of screen time, his presence is the anchor of the movie. He portrays a low rent meth dealer who knows that his business partner brother has probably met a bad fate.

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