2013 Calvin Awards: Best Supporting Actor
By Kim Hollis
February 21, 2013
In our 2010 Calvin Awards, Inglourious Basterds' Christoph Waltz won the prize for Best Supporting Actor in a walk, beating his closest competition by a margin of 58 points. In 2013, we see a bit of history repeating itself, as Waltz wins handily once again; this time for his performance in Django Unchained, topping the runner-up by 45. The commonality between the roles, of course, is that both films were helmed by Quentin Tarantino, which tells us that the loquacious director has a knack for writing great characters for the Austrian actor.
The difference this time around for Waltz is that got to be a good guy rather than an all-time memorable villain. Dr. King Schultz is a complex character. He pretty much has to be, considering that he is a dentist, an abolitionist and a bounty hunter. Dr. Schultz is articulate, passionate, loyal and surprisingly quick on the draw. With any other performer, Schultz would have easily fallen into the realm of caricature, but his nuanced take gives us yet another classic Tarantino archetype who we will remember for years to come.
This year's runner-up actually comes from the same film as the winner. Leonardo DiCaprio gets slimy and unpleasant for the role of plantation owner Calvin J. Candie. He practically oozes with the corruption and immorality you'd imagine of a man who requires his male slaves to battle in mandingo-style gladiator wars. His faux hospitality with guests belies the cruelty behind his eyes. When he goes behind closed doors, where only his senior house slave can see him, his real nature emerges with no hesitation or reservation. It's a nice play against type for DiCaprio since we're generally used to seeing him play the protagonist.
We're really happy to see Robert De Niro in third place, because it's been a long time since we've liked him this much. As the obsessive, diehard Philadelphia Eagles fan Pat Solitano Sr., he exhibits an overt anxiety that emerges as his entire world depends on whether his favorite teams win or lose. His love for his son through all obstacles is touching even as his over-reliance on Pat Jr. as a lucky token is damaging. De Niro delivers a subtle, nuanced performance that stands in stark contrast to the blatant over-the-top roles he's taken all too often over the past several years.
Fourth place goes to Javier Bardem, who wowed us with his wily and ambitious scheming in Skyfall. It's been a long time since a Bond villain has been this memorable, and it's all because of Bardem. He's truly creepy because his intelligence is so powerful that he's a more formidable opponent than Bond himself could ever envision. That intelligence extends to the plans he has for Bond and the people who surround him in MI6. Bardem has now given us two of the most powerful antagonists of the past decade in Raoul Silva and Anton Chigurh. Maybe his next move will be to portray a good guy a la King Schultz.
There are a lot of actors who chew scenery in Lincoln, and Tommy Lee Jones is foremost amongst them. We mean that in the best possible way, of course. The conflict and simmering rage in his eyes as he listens to his Congressional cohorts insist that slavery should be allowed to continue is simply devastating. When he must appear to compromise his beliefs in order to move the Thirteenth Amendment forward, his determination is evident. The eventual reveal where we see behind the doors of his home into his private life is revelatory. This is a bravura performance that is deserving of the accolades it has received.
Sixth and seventh go to The Master's Philip Seymour Hoffman and Alan Arkin of Argo (that sounds like a science fiction name worthy of the one they were pretending to shoot). Hoffman portrays a highly intelligent charlatan who draws the viewer in with his charisma, making it easy to see why Freddie is so enthralled by him. Arkin is a hilarious tandem with John Goodman in Argo, as the two of them provide some comic relief in a film with some weighty subject matter. Arkin is particularly nice in a tense scene where he and Goodman must get to a phone but are beset by obstacles on the way.
Our final three actors in the top ten are all emerging performers. Jason Clarke delivers smoldering intensity in his role as a CIA agent in Zero Dark Thirty. He must torture prisoners in order to try to prise whatever information he might glean from them. His lack of seeming regret about his methods might be disturbing, but it also shows the detachment necessary for an individual in that role. It sure isn't pretty. Next up is Ezra Miller, who was just a revelation in Perks of Being a Wallflower. A young man who is having a secret relationship with a star player on the football team, he is charming, kind and the sort of person you wish you knew in real life. Finally, Dwight Henry is a tight ball of irresponsible anger in Beasts of the Southern Wild. It would have been easy to make his character one-note, but we see why Hushpuppy still loves her daddy despite everything they've been through, not to mention their unique lifestyle.
Performers who just missed the cut were Michael Fassbender for Prometheus, Matthew McConaughey, who received votes for both Magic Mike and Killer Joe, and Django Unchained's Samuel L. Jackson.
View other awards
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
|| Christoph Waltz
|| Leonardo DiCaprio
|| Robert De Niro
||Silver Linings Playbook
|| Javier Bardem
|| Tommy Lee Jones
|| Philip Seymour Hoffman
|| Alan Arkin
|| Jason Clarke
||Zero Dark Thirty
|| Ezra Miller
||The Perks of Being a Wallflower
|| Dwight Henry
||Beasts of the Southern Wild