Ensemble in a Drama
Trying to single out a performance here is a fool’s errand, because what makes the movie so powerful is each individual’s grief, frustration and determination revealing themselves throughout. Another clear example of why the Oscars need an Ensemble Acting award.
Actor in a Drama
Brendan Fraser, The Whale
The more I think about Darren Aronofsky’s adaptation of The Whale, the less I like it. It’s an intentionally ugly movie that fails to earn its emotional catharsis. But I can’t get rid of the whole thing. Brendan Fraser, who’s always been a reliable presence, gives a powerful performance that finds the empathy the film itself lacks.
Actress in a Drama
Anna Cobb, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
I could be boring here and give this to Cate Blanchett in Tár, but she’s already getting all the awards. So I want to highlight another stellar performance that won’t be at the Oscars. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair is perhaps the quintessential horror movie of the Terminally Online era. Cobb plays Casey, a lonely teen who becomes obsessed with an online horror challenge. But is the breakdown she documents real or a performance? Writer-director Jane Schoenbrun never tips her hand. It’s an emotionally and physically complex performance, one that’s all the more astonishing since this marks Cobb’s debut.
Supporting Actor in a Drama
Justin Long, Barbarian
The most hilarious performance of the year hidden inside one of the year’s best horror movies. Long tweaks his nice guy persona as a sex pest whose world comes crashing down right as he’s riding high, sending him back to his hometown and the house of horrors on Barbary Street. Him pulling out a tape measure was the single funniest moment of the year, in a movie that was otherwise terrifying.
Supporting Actress in a Drama
Hong Chau, The Whale
Is that a photo of Hong Chau in The Menu? Yes. Has A24 inexplicably failed to put up a single decent photo of her from The Whale? Also yes. But in both films, underestimate her at your own peril. In The Whale, she plays Charlie’s best friend, neighbor and nurse, who not only enables Charlie’s eating disorder but also provides him the physical and emotional comfort he craves. Like Fraser, she has the emotional depth the film doesn’t.