Small Roles…Big Performances

Hello followers! It’s finally time for my friend Ruth‘s long-awaited blogathon! In her words, the idea behind Small Roles…Big Performances is “to shine a spotlight on the ‘unsung heroes’ if you will, the overlooked performers who add so much richness/entertainment value to the film no matter how brief their appearance is, but yet they don’t get the credit they so deserve”. I’ve looked forward to this for a long time so, without further ado, here are my picks:

Lola Dueñas in Volver

I figure you must all be sick of me mentioning Volver by now. I get it. I do talk about it a lot. But it’s because I’m in love with that movie. I wouldn’t expect you to love it as much as I do, but we all have that film that seems so intimate, so perfect, like it was made with you in mind somehow. Volver is mine. It’s warm, it’s sweet, it’s dark, it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s filled with love and color and food, just like a great family gathering. Director and writer Pedro Almodóvar is at his best, so is Penélope Cruz (who got her first Oscar nomination for this one) and Carmen Maura (as her mother) but it was Lola Dueñas, who played Cruz’s sister Soledad (loneliness), the standout among a marvelous female cast. Her face is incredibly expressive and her comic timing is perfect. She is hysterical and affecting and the best thing about the movie. She’s also deadpan magnificence in another Almodóvar feature, Los Abrazos Rotos.

Jennifer Lawrence in The Burning Plain

Getting a ‘Best Actress’ Oscar nomination (for Winter’s Bone) and starring in one of the biggest movies of 2012 have made Jennifer Lawrence a household name. But I first noticed her in Guillermo Arriaga’s directorial debut The Burning Plain (he previously wrote Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, and The Three Burials of Melquíades Estrada). The Burning Plain also starred Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger but it was then-17-year-old Lawrence who stole the whole show from her more experienced, Oscar-winning costars. In my humble opinion, this is her best performance to date. When she realizes she just did something very, very bad and that she may’ve just killed her mother (though accidentally), the look on her face is priceless. Right then and there, I knew she would grow up to become one of the greats. I’m confident that that will happen. I saw that film with my father and we came out of the theater amazed at her work. Jennifer received the Marcello Mastroianni award at the Venice Film Festival for her performance but sadly and unfairly, no Oscar nomination.

Andrew Garfield in The Social Network

David Fincher’s fantastic film about the foundation of popular social networking site, Facebook, was a big hit with audiences and critics two years ago and grabbed a handful of awards across the board (but lost out ‘Best Picture’ to The King’s Speech in a sad, sad night for me). Jesse Eisenberg, who, before seeing this film, was someone I dismissed for being “another Michael Cera”, received a ‘Best Actor’ nomination for his fascinating turn as Mark Zuckerberg. However, the standout for me, among a very talented cast that also included Armie Hammer, Justin Timberlake and Rooney Mara, was Andrew Garfield. He’s a household name now thanks to The Amazing Spider-Man but this was his breakthrough. Garfield stole every scene as Eduardo Saverin so it came as a shock to me when his name wasn’t mentioned when Oscar nominations were announced. He covers a very wide range of emotions as Zuckerberg’s betrayed friend and investor and I’ll go as far as saying he not only should have been nominated for cinema’s highest honor, he should have won over Christian Bale (and that’s saying something; I’m a huge Bale fan). Have a look at Garfield’s best scene and tell me I’m wrong.

So, what do you think of my choices? Agree? Disagree? Tell me in the comments!

Want to check out other entries in the blogathon? Go here. Want to add your own entry? Awesome! Contact Ruth at FlixChatter!