I swear i'll be writing more in 2014

Monday, August 1, 2011

Top 50 Best Supporting Acting Roles

50.  Ed Norton as "Worm" in Rounders

He plays a great degenerate. Why I picked this supporting role over his role in a movie like Primal Fear?  If you could watch Rounders or Primal Fear, who the hell would chose Primal Fear?  Don't answer that ladies. 

49.  Robert DeNiro as "Jimmy Conway" in Goodfellas

This is one of DeNiro's most fun and imitated roles, but it has also become one of those caricature type roles for him due to so much imitation.  There's a reason DeNiro doesn't really play gangsters any more. 

48.  Josh Brolin as "Llewlyn Moss" in No Country For Old Men

There's nothing like the older kid from The Goonies becoming a great actor as an adult.  This role was perfect for him. 

47.  Russell Crowe as "Bud White" in L.A. Confidential

Russell Crowe, like many forms of art, was fantastic until he became popular. 

46.  Joaquin Phoenix as "Commodus" in Gladiator


45.  James Woods as "Max" in Once Upon a Time in America

I'm a little disappointed with the way his film career has dissipated.  I've never seen him in any role where he didn't make a film better, and that's saying something for someone who usually plays characters you're supposed to hate. 

44.  Benecio Del Toro as "Dr. Gonzo" in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

When you make Hunter S. Thompson look like the rational sober guy, you're pretty fucked up. 

43.  John Turturro as "Pete" in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

If I was to create a supporting actor Hall of Fame, Turturro may be my first nomination.  This is the only time he'll appear on this list, but he also deserves credit for being Jesus in The Big Lebowski (not big enough of a part to be a supporting actor); Pino in Do the Right Thing; Bernie in Miller's Crossing; Knish in Rounders; and of course the special agent in the Transformer series … okay, maybe not the last one. 

42.  Tim Robbins as "Nick Laloosh" in Bull Durham

I've never done a fun-loving douchebag list, but this character would be tops.  What strikes me as strange is that Tiger Woods cheats on his wife and the world crucifies him but baseball players do it all the time and it's part of the persona. 

41.  Michael V. Gazzo as "Frank Pantangeli" in The Godfather Part II

It's probably not much of a stretch for an old Italian to play the role of an old Italian, but it's impossible not to love Frankie and his naturally hoarse voice. 

40.  Steven Bauer as "Manny" in Scarface

He's acting is better than Pacino in this movie, but he's obviously not as fun.  If there was ever a competition as to who could say "mang" the best, he'd probably win. 

39.  John Cazale as "Stan" in The Deer Hunter

As if this movie wasn’t depressing enough, Cazale was dying of cancer while shooting this film.  He also deserves credit for "Fredo" in the Godfather movies, but I seriously have something like 5 characters on this list from those two movies so I don't want them to dominate too much. 

38.  Vince Vaughn as "Trent" in Swingers

I'm pretty sure most men my age, and hell, even most women have quoted Trent from this movie.  Do you want to kill him?  Of course you do, but that's what makes the role so fun. 

37.  Tom Cruise as "TJ Mackey" in Magnolia

Cruise should team up with Paul Anderson more often.  Cruise always plays roles that are supposed to be cocky but likable characters, here he plays a cocky detestable character that you sort of end up having an emotional attachment to.  I don't think I've ever had an emotional attachment to Cruise in a movie, in fact, I'm usually cheer against him. 

36.  Steve Buscemi as "Carl Showalter" in Fargo

Here's another nominee for my Supporting Actor Hall of Fame.  Every time he has a conversation with William H. Macy in this film it's immaculate. 

35.  Brad Pitt as "Mickey" in Snatch

This may have been the Brad Pitt role that converted me from being a hater.  The difference between he and say, Tom Cruise, is that he actually plays characters whereas Cruise plays himself. 

34.  Harvey Kietel as "The Wolf" in Pulp Fiction

His role may not have been that big, but when he's on this screen it's a lot of fun.  Of course, almost this entire movie is a lot of fun. 

33.  Burt Reynolds as "Jack Horner" in Boogie Nights

Before this film, Reynolds' career was pretty stagnant.  Gone was the moustached guy from fast car movies of the late 70s and early 80s.  I can't think of a better way for him to make a comeback than an adult movie director, especially a classy one. 

32.  Mark Whalberg as "Dingman" in The Departed

It's crazy that Markie Mark has found at least two great roles (the other being Dirk Diggler) in his career. 

31.  James Caan as "Sonny" in The Godfather

Caan isn't the greatest actor but he came to play in this film.  If he wasn't outshined by some of the greatest actors ever here, he may have won an award and probably not had to do that Rollerball movie. 

30.  Robert DeNiro as "Johnny Boy" in Mean Streets

DeNiro played a punk better than any of his mafia roles (aside from The Godfather Part 2).  Of course, he was much younger then. 

29.  Paul Dano as "Eli Sunday" in There Will Be Blood

For someone who barely spoke a word and had a little bit of a "Punch Him the Face Factor" going on in Little Miss Sunshine, he turned in a fantastic performance as the evil preacher here. 

28.  Robin Williams as "Sean Maguire" in Good Will Hunting

For a film that's aged pretty poorly, Robin Williams' performance is the only thing keeping it relevant, well, that and the funny chowder accents.  

27.  Tommy Lee Jones as "Deputy Garrard" in The Fugitive

This is an example of a great movie that wouldn't be good at all without his performance.  After all, who hasn't cornered someone over a huge dam and when they declared their innocence you've stared them right in the face and said, "I don't care!" 

26.  Pat Morita as "Mr. Miyagi" in The Karate Kid

It's too bad the series never reached a point where LaRusso turned evil and had to square off against Miyagi who proceeded to whoop his ass and give a round of high fives to the Cobra Kai. 

25.  Lee J. Cobb as "Juror #3" in 12 Angry Men

If you ever want to see my view of today's Republican, watch his performance in this film. 

24.  William H. Macy as "Jerry Lundergaard" in Fargo

Here's my third nomination for the Supporting Actor Hall of Fame (in fact, I'll stop this Hall of Fame game now and just make a list at the end of this list).  Macy can play many roles, but playing a weasel always seems to suit him best.    

23.  Burgess Meredith as "Mickey" in Rocky

Whenever I picture a boxing trainer, I will always picture Burgess Meredith.  That's how iconic his role in the Rocky films was. 

22.  Robert Downey Jr. as "Kirk Lazarus" in Tropic Thunder

When I was a kid, I saw an episode of Gimme a Break in which Joey Lawrence painted himself black at some kind of talent show to try to fit in and the response on the show was as if he'd killed the Ronald Reagan (not funny in front of Nel).  Years later, in a much different context, the idea of a white person making their skin black to play a character is hysterical.  You gotta love father time.  Hmm, time is a dad and nature is a mother (cue sparkling sounds).  

21.  Ian McKellan as "Gandolf" in The Lord of The Rings

He deserves a high ranking simply for "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"  Without Gandolf, we'd all be living under the harsh conditions of that evil eye right now. 

20.  Alec Guiness as "OB1-Kenobi" in Star Wars

If I ever wanted someone to give me an inspirational speech as I prepare for the after-life, it's either OB1 or Gandolf. 

19.  Christoph Waltz as "The Jew Hunter" in Inglorious Basterds

Never have I been so impressed with a man's pipe (ha – ha – ha – ha).  Well, aside from the glass ones some of my Phish-head friends may have carried in the 90s.  Remember that hippie that had that glass blown pipe shaped like a dragon?  Did everyone know someone like that? 

18.  Benicio Del Toro as "Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez" in Traffic

This makes two for Del Toro and I didn't include his roll as Freddy Four Fingers from Snatch.   I was pissed when he died because he wouldn’t be in that movie anymore.  It's like, say they killed Bill the Butcher in the opening scene of Gangs of New York and we were left with Liam Neeson the whole time.  That would suck. 

17.  Danny Aiello as "Sal" in Do the Right Thing

He's incredible in the role of the pizzeria owner.  It's his right to put whoever he wants on his walls, but he learned as many have, that white people should just never ever say the "N" word.  It's really not that hard, and would it have killed him to put Mookie Wilson on the wall? 

16.  Gary Sinise as "Lt. Dan" in Forrest Gump

I don't like Gary Sinise because he's really not that good of an actor but was fortunate enough to get this role, and nail it.  I do love Lt. Dan … but you ain't go no legs Lt. Dan!

15.  Christopher Walken as "Nick" in The Deer Hunter

He may have turned into a comedian in his later years, but in the late 70s, he was one hell of an actor.  Two people from this film make this list which means I probably should watch it again.  I'm not even counting Meryl Streep.  In fact, there are no women on my list which is probably either really sexist or because I'm doing a different list for actresses in the future.  You decide. 

14.  Robert Duvall as "Tom Haggen" in The Godfather Parts 1 & 2

It's too bad he wasn't blood because he really would've made the best Don after Vito died because it was all business with him and never personal, but he never was a war time consigliere though, and that was my first time ever spelling "consigliere" correctly even though Microsoft Word is telling me otherwise.  +3 for me for using three conjunctions in one sentence whether that sentence is good or not. 

13.  Joe Pesci as "Joey" in Raging Bull

A perfect recipe for a movie is Scorsese directing a buddy picture with Pesci and DeNiro.  I can't believe one hasn't been made since 1995 with the way movies are today (wow, what a grumpy old man moment that was).  How about a new movie with this combination and make a rival villain Daniel Day-Lewis?  It'd probably suck somehow but would be loads of fun. 

12.  John Goodman as "Walter Sobchak" in The Big Lebowski

Granted everyone in this movie is a character of some sorts, but it's Walter that keeps this story rolling along, or however you’d deem the pace of this movie going forward. 

11.  Al Pacino as "Michael Corleone" in The Godfather

Pacino is fantastic in this one, especially when he's still innocent and peaks when he gives his "I'll kill'em both" speech.  He may be lead here though, and someone may not like that. 

10.  Karl Malden as "Father Barry" in On the Waterfront

He's my first "favorite supporting actor" with his roles in this one and of course, A Streetcar Named Desire. 

9.  Alec Guiness as ”Prince Faisel" in Lawrence of Arabia

Yes, it's slow, but the highlights of this movie include every time he's on screen. 

8.  Javier Bardem as "Anton Chighur" in No Country For Old Men

He barely talks but when he does he spouts a beautiful psychotic wisdom.  I've never seen him in any other movie though, which I find strange because when I see him, all I see is this psychotic character.  It's kind of like when I see Jason Alexander all I see is "Costanza."

7.  Steve Buscemi as "Mr. Pink" in Reservoir Dogs

I didn't know who any of these actors were when I saw this movie.  As much as I love Harvey Kietel, who's more of a lead actor in this one, and Mr. Blonde, who's the comic relief, Mr. Pink is the biggest bright spot in a movie full of them. 

6.  R. Lee Ermey as "Sgt. Hartman" in Full Metal Jacket

It's true to a degree that the training camp portion of this film is an A+, whereas the rest of the movie pales in comparison.  I love the second half, but Ermey's performance is so wonderful it'd be hard for just about any film to reach that peak.  How many drill sergeants in other stories are modeled after this guy? 

5.  Heath Ledger as "The Joker" in The Dark Knight

Two people I've talked about way too much on my blog or maybe just in real life are this character and those famous two played by Daniel Day-Lewis.  What's left to say?  How about … Top 5 Lines said by The Joker in The Dark Knight

5.  Scar Story #2: "Come here. Hey! Look at me. So I had a wife, beautiful, like you, who tells me I worry too much. Who tells me I ought to smile more. Who gambles and gets in deep with the sharks... Look at me! One day, they carve her face. And we have no money for surgeries. She can't take it. I just want to see her smile again, hm? I just want her to know that I don't care about the scars. So... I stick a razor in my mouth and do this to myself. And you know what? She can't stand the sight of me! She leaves. Now I see the funny side. Now I'm always smiling!"

4. " If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan." But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!"

3.  "You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push!"

2.  "Do I really look like a guy with a plan?"

1.  Scar Story #1: "Wanna know how I got these scars? My father was... a drinker. And a fiend. And one night he goes off crazier than usual. Mommy gets the kitchen knife to defend herself. He doesn't like that. Not-one-bit. So - me watching - he takes the knife to her, laughing while he does it! Turns to me, and he says, "why so serious, son?" Comes at me with the knife... "Why so serious?" He sticks the blade in my mouth... "Let's put a smile on that face!""

4.  Robert DeNiro as "Vito Corleone" in The Godfather Part II

Instead of The Godfather Part III, something that would've been great, maybe in the late 70s or early 80s would've been a Godfather prequel.  Pick up DeNiro's "Vito" character as he rises to power and let him dominate for a movie, rather than get shot several times in the back and lay in a bed most of the film.  Obviously if this was done today it'd be pretty bad.

3.  Marlon Brando as "General Kurtz" in Apocalypse Now

Though I usually fall asleep before he appears in the movie, it's a new level of fun when he does, well, except the cow slaughtering.  It's funny, of all the violent stuff that happens in this film, it's the cow slaughtering that's too much for me.  By the late 70s though, "supporting actor" was the best way to use a suddenly aging Brando. 

2.  Joe Pesci as "Tommy" in Goodfellas

Obviously, the clown speech is the highlight so …

Henry: You're a pistol! You're really funny. You're really funny!
Tommy: What do you mean I'm funny?
Henry: It's funny, you know. It's a good story, it's funny, you're a funny guy!
Tommy: [dangerously] What do you mean? You mean the way I talk?
[Everyone becomes quiet]
Henry: It's just, you know, you're just funny. It's funny, the way you tell the story and everything.
Tommy: Funny how? What's funny about it?
Anthony: Tommy, no, you got it all wrong —
Tommy: Oh, no, Anthony. He's a big boy, he knows what he said. [to Henry] What did ya say? Funny how?
Henry: Just —
Tommy: What?
Henry: Just, ya know, you're funny.
Tommy: You mean, let me understand this, 'cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how? I mean funny like I'm a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny? Funny how? How am I funny?
Henry: Just... you know, how you tell the story, y'know —
Tommy: No, no, I don't know. You said it! How do I know? You said I'm funny. How the fuck am I funny? What the fuck is so funny about me?! Tell me, tell me what's funny!
[Long pause]
Henry: Get the fuck out of here, Tommy!
[Everyone laughs]
Tommy: Ya motherfucker! I almost had him, I almost had him! You stuttering prick, you! Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning.

1.  Robert Duvall as "Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore" in Apocalypse Now

The four things that need to come into place for a great supporting acting performance are great acting, fun characters, phenomenal lines, and it really helps to appear in a classic movie.  If you review this list, pretty much every character adheres to this formula.  The Granddaddy of them all is Duvall.  Though he's been great sometimes as a lead actor, (that one movie where he killed that guy with a baseball bat … The Apostle … was pretty good for instance) he's better when someone else is taking the lead, even if he's a much better actor than that person, as he is much better than Martin Sheen in this, hell, he's even better than Brando in this one.  If there indeed was a "Best Supporting Actor Hall of Fame", he'd be the best nominee and it may as well named after him. 

Here's the first 10 people I'd put in order of their relevance:

Lee J. Cobb
Karl Malden
Alec Guiness
Robert Duvall
Joe Pesci
John Turturro
Steve Buscemi
Philip Seymour Hoffman (even though he didn't qualify for this list)
William H. Macy
Benicio Del Toro


  1. The absence of Thomas Mitchell in multiple choice roles is indefensible.

  2. As is Charles Laughton as Quasimodo

  3. As is Charles Laughton as Quasimodo