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Feb 08 2019

There are no small parts,'18 Edition

by Nathaniel R

Our annual cinematic jamboree,the Film Bitch Awards,continue with the categories ofbest actors and actresses in limited roles.This category is reserved for the kind of performances given in one or two scenes where'd you'd be happy to wander outside the camera's purview just to spend more time with them.Or,more accurately,since the characters aren't always pleasant,performances so strong that you wish you could follow them into another scene or five to watch the actor dig in yet deeper.

We're talking about performances like Brian Tyree Henry's inIf Beale Street Could Talk,who crystallizes the film's conceits about the systematic oppression of black men as his innocent ex-con monologues through the film's most moving sequence.His eyes drop us into the abyss of his prison memories where his words won't take us.We're talking about performances like Bradley Whitford's glib lawyer,oozing shamelessness with his soul long-since sold,who comes at a bedraggled cop threatening him with such confidence that at first you think he'll win and the movie will be a very short one.That is until you watch the star (Nicole Kidman) up her own already impressive game to spar with an actor that's sparking her inner ensemblist.

We're talking about performances like Jeanne Balibar's inCold Waror Jane Curtin's inCan You Ever Forgive Me?that are played with such precise panache that you can imagine a different type of movie just off to the side of the one you're watching,where they're the leads instead and this moment is but a subplot intheirnarratives.Check out the nomination pagefor more on these fine performances and others from Leticia Brédice,Rebecca Field,Elizabeth McGovern,Simon Russell Beale,Philip Ettinger,and Corey Hawkins and a list of other names we also loved in tiny roles this past cinematic year.

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Reader Comments (46)

What about Bryan Cranston's voice performance in ISLE OF DOGS?Love all the voice performances in that movie...!

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterEd

I'm surprised that Jesse Plemons wasn't included for Game Night.Or do you consider his part big enough to qualify for Supporting Actor?

February 8,2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

I seriously do not remember that Rebecca Field actress at all in "A Star Is Born".

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

GAIL!But with all the hype surrounding Gail,I actually liked Luenell (who played the cashier) better...she made me laugh in her small role.

I'm glad to see Jane Curtin here.I loved her growing up,and it was so nice to see her in Can You Ever Forgive Me?this year.Also great to see Belafonte and Ettinger recongized.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Curtin is more memorable than all of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominees.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins Returns!

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Obsessed with the inclusion of Gail,because it feels correct.That movie is littered with fantastic one scene performances (I'm personally a little sad that Willam didn't crack your five for male actors)

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

I couldn't decide what I thought of McGovern's scene in The Wife.Leaning towards it was probably pretty dead-on.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

Some great choices,especially McGovern - while the movie was good this early scene was the film's high point.Judith Roberts,Joe's mother in You Were Never Really Here would be in my top 5 for sure.As far as actors,I'd probably find a place for Patrick Fugit in First Man.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I look forward to theses "extra"categories every year,in part to revisit small moments that I remember well (Brian Tyree Henry,Jane Curtin,Corey Hawkins,Phillip Ettinger,Phoebe Waller Bridge's voice!),and in part to see what jumped out to you that didn't to me (like the poet in Cold War,who I can't remember at all,even though I saw that movie just a couple weeks ago).

One addition to the small memorable role list: Jake Ryan as Elsie Fisher's nerdy pal in Eighth Grade.(Or is his role too big for this category?)

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Excellent call on Ettinger.I wouldn't have thought of it,but well deserved.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

The moment McGovern's scene ended when I sawThe Wifelast weekend my initial thought was,"I bet she'll make Nathaniel's shortlist for performance in a limited role."It's exactly the kind of energy the film needed more of,especially in the flashbacks.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Jane Curtin straight up made my Best Supporting Actress line-up (along with Dolly Wells).What a sizzling cameo!I was sad she never cropped back up.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered Commenterevangelina

Do you think Dolly Wells is a supporting actress possibility I assumed she'd show up here,her performance has continued to dwell on me,that book she might never finish,that sad look when she's rebuffed,the joy over the letters.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Agree with @Andy that Willam should of made top 5,simply for the line "I don't care,just look at me while you do it"should of bagged him a spot and if you're doing a best line category,this line better make the cut aha :)

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrett

Renée Soutendijk as Miss Huller in Suspiria

Angela Winkler as Miss Tanner in Suspiria

INGRID FREAKING CAVEN as Miss Vendegast in Suspiria

and on and on through the entire coven...

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterJason

I thought Joe Alwyn was superb in Boy Erased.Glad he got a finalist mention.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

What?No love for Harry Shum Jr.'s SAG-nominated 2-second cameo in CRAZY RICH ASIANS?I'm kidding!

I think my pick to possibly include here would be Sara Sohn who played the mom from SEARCHING.The opening of that film reminded me of UP and just tugged at you from the get go.

Anyways,this is my favorite part of the Film Bitch Awards.These extra categories are always a joy!

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I could fill these with all the marvelous limited performances in If Beale Street Could Talk.Henry of course,but I would also consider Aunjanue Ellis,Dave Franco and Emily Rios.I re-watched that film recently and I found it even more moving the second time...Are all voice-performances considered limited?

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

"A writer has to be read,honey."McGovern was terrific

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterSam Hawk

this is probably my favorite filmbitch category year after year.I love it.

this year is harder as I'm ashamed to say I've only seen one of these performances so far but time will fix that.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

I don't get the Gail hype.Frankly,it reads more as a joke "campaign"to me.Love most of the other choices though,especially the entire Limited Actor ballot.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Carrie Coon in Izzy gets the F*** out of town

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Pappas

Ettinger in FR.Something very D'Onofrio about his look and performance.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterErik

Steven Roberts as the sympathetic teacher in Tully is a pocket of such warmth,arriving at just the right moment.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered Commenterben1283

In another world,roles like Jane Curtin and Philip Ettinger's would qualify as Supporting performances.But now,next to lead-roles-masquerading-as-supporting,they look like cameos.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

Ooh,YES to Steven Roberts as a calming teacher in Tully.What a lovely moment that was.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

I seriously do not remember that Rebecca Field actress at all in "A Star Is Born".2

February 8,2019 | Unregistered Commenterjota


February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterBruno


February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrown Cow Stunning

Weaver is my absolute favourite.I want a whole movie about that mother and daughter.

I would add Emily Rios in Beale Street.The way she screams when Regina tries to touch her pierced my soul.

In a way Balibar and McGovern are playing the same role,right?This 'been there,done that' attitude that I find so appealing.

Philip Ettinger is also an inspired choice.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I always remember Annie Funke in A Most Violent Year when we do this.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I wish Curtin had just one more scene in CYEFM.She would have been such a great Best Supporting Actress nominee if she had just a little more screentime.

Brian Tyree Henry is on my Supporting Actor ballot.His scene / monologue was riveting.

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

George -- i think so too (on Curtin) and I could totally picture Brian Tyree Henry having been nominated for IBSCT if the Academy had loved the picture all around.,despite it being just one scene.He's great in it and it is a really long scene so it doesn't play like a cameo.

Everyone --sorry about Willam!I knew I was forgetting someone which is why I only listed 11 people (i only allow myself 12 names in each award between finals,semi-finals,and nominees) so I've added her in.I loooooove Willam.

February 8,2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Others worth consideration:

Dave Franco- If Beale Street Could Talk
Stephen Root- The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Brad Pitt- Deadpool 2 (Not a fan of the movie but that cameo got a good laugh out of me)
Sterling K.Brown- Black Panther
Daniel Zolgrhadi or Jake Ryan- Eighth Grade

Ann Dowd- American Animals
Bernice Stegers- Disobedience
Natasha Rothwell- Love,Simon
Olivia Sandoval and Linda Cardellini- A Simple Favour
Aunjanue Ellis- If Beale Street Could Talk
Maria Dizzia- Vox Lux
Jing Lusi- Crazy Rich Asians

February 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan Dykes

I was immediately hoping that Jane Curtin would show up here.Thank you!!

February 9,2019 | Unregistered Commentercb

I love Duncan's suggestions of Nathasha Rothwell and Linda Cardellini.Though I think Rothwell's part is slightly bigger than this category entails?Or not.Also Cardellini in A SIMPLE FAVOR > Cardellini in GREEN BOOK.

February 9,2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Jane/Elizabeth of the women and Harry Belafonte in BKKK/Stephen Root in BUSTER SCRUGGs in the men are the ones that I immediately thought of.

February 9,2019 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Who did Stephen Root play in Buster Scruggs?I'm trying to recall

February 9,2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

He was the bank manager who shoots at James Franco.

February 9,2019 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I purchased a YouTube premium account just so I could watch Museo.Such an enchanting film!Gael Garcia Bernal seems like such a script driven actor,doesn't he?

February 10,2019 | Unregistered CommenterBushwick

Brian Tyree Henry was brilliant in Beale Street.

February 10,2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

I am so happy that you included Leticia Bredice,she was also terrific in Plata Quemada along with Leonardo Sbaraglia monumental performance and Eduardo Noriega as good as always.Have you seen that picture Nataniel?
I would like you talk more about latinamerican movies.

February 11,2019 | Unregistered CommenterCésar Gaytán

bushwick -- totally.which is why his filmography is so good!

cesar -- any recommendations?

February 11,2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

@NATHANIEL.I was hoping you ask me that

I accept that in a moment i used to be fanatized for Hollywood/indie movies until i realize that as a mexican i didn't know much about the filmography of México or another spanish language countries.That luckily change when i watch a film that impressed me so much: Temporada de Patos (Duck Season)

This is the list of some notable films that i ever seen (And still searching for more)

La Fórmula Secreta (The Secret Formula) Rubén Gamez,1965
Fando y Lis,Alejandro Jodorowsky,1968
El Libro de Piedra (The Book of Stone) Carlos Enrique Taboada,1969
México,México,Ra Ra Ra,Gustavo Alatriste,1976
Canoa,Felipe Cazals,1976
El Corazón de la Noche,Jaime Humberto Hermosillo,1984
Un Toke de Roc,Sergio García,1988
Solo Con tu Pareja,Alfonso Cuarón,1991
El Bulto,Gabriel Retes,1992
Bienvenido-Welcome,Gabriel Retes,1994 (My favorite)
La Ley de Herodes,Luis Estrada,1999
Perfume de Violetas,Marysse Sistach,2000
Matando Cabos,Alejandro Lozano,2004
El Violín,Francisco Vargas,2005
Adiós Mundo Cruel (Goodbye Cruel World) Jack Zagha Kababie,2010
Abel,Diego Luna,2010
Miss Bala,Gerardo Naranjo,2011
Después de Lucia,(After Lucía) Michel Franco,2012
Los Insólitos Peces Gato (The Amazing Catfish) Claudia Sainte-Luce
El Incidente,Isaac Ezban,2014
González: Falsos Profetas,Christian Díaz Pardo,2014
Sueño en Otro Idioma (I dream in another language) Ernesto Contreras,2017

El día de la Bestia,Alex de la Iglesia,1995
Tesis,Alejandro Amenábar,1996
Muertos de Risa,Alex de la Iglesia,1999
Te Doy Mis Ojos (Take My Eyes) Icíar Bollaín,2003 (Remarkable)
Crimen Ferpecto,Alex de la Iglesia,2004 (Hilarious)
Nocturna,Adriá García,Víctor Maldonado,2007

Plata Quemada (Burnt Money) Marcelo Piñeyro,2000
Plan B,Marco Berger,2009
Medianeras,(Sidewalls) Gustavo Taretto,2011

Madeinusa,Claudia Llosa,2006
Contracorriente (Undertow) Javier Fuentes León,2009 (FANTASTIC)

La Nana (The Maid) Santiago Segura,2009

Pequeñas Voces,Óscar Andrade,Jairo Eduardo Carrillo,2010

February 12,2019 | Unregistered CommenterCésar Gaytán

I also can't remember the poet from Cold War even though I just saw it a few weeks ago,which is weird since it's such a visually memorable movie.

Love Hawkins,Henry,Curtain and the actress from ASIB!For some reason she really popped and felt like an actual,real person.

I also loved the elderly man on the bus in the Spider Man costume in Capernaum.It was brief,but he provided an off-kilter color and strangeness that the movie needed.I can't be sure of his name from the IMDB list,though.

February 13,2019 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

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