Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Countdown: Best Supporting Actor

The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards will air live on VH1 on Thursday, January 12th. Comedians Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer are hosting this year’s awards with a special award for director Martin Scorsese. Hugo and The Artist lead the nominees with 11 nominations. As a member of the Broadcast Film Critics I am proud to be profiling the contenders in the major categories.

Today: Best Supporting Actor.

Kenneth Branagh – My Week with Marilyn

My Week with Marilyn was, in my opinion, one of the best films of 2011 and Kenneth Branagh’s Sir Laurence Olivier is a big part of what made it so great. In My Week with Marilyn, Kenneth Branagh brings the legendary Sir Laurence Olivier back to life with a blustery but entertaining homage that marks actors most memorable work since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Albert Brooks – Drive

In one of the most daring and unexpected performances of 2011, Albert Brooks went dark in Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive and delivered a truly chilling performance. Brooks’ talent for comedy has never been questioned but rarely has he had the opportunity to demonstrate his astonishing talent for malevolence. In Drive, Brooks crafts a frightening portrait of a cold-hearted sociopath that takes on an exciting extra dimension because it is so unexpected.

Nick Nolte – Warrior

If a director is looking to cast an actor to play grizzled he casts Nick Nolte in the role. Nick Nolte’s world-worn exterior masks an uncanny vulnerability that makes him ideal for roles like the one he plays in Warrior. As the alcoholic father to a pair of Mixed Martial Artists, Nolte offers a broken souled father every bit as emotionally powerful as his two hulking sons are physically powerful inside the cage.

Patton Oswalt – Young Adult

Do not dismiss Patton Oswalt as merely a comedian. Oswalt showed in his remarkable performance in Big Fan that he has serious acting chops. With Young Adult Oswalt’s acting talent comes to full flower as the feisty, disfigured, unlikely friend to Charlize Theron’s clueless mean girl. Oswalt’s witty, acerbic sidekick is the perfect foil for Theron while also cutting an original and compelling character in his own right.

Christopher Plummer – Beginners

In director Mike MillsBeginners Christopher Plummer surprises audiences at every turn with a unique and graceful performance as 70-something father who decides to come out of the closet shortly after the passing of his wife of more than 40 years. Plummer captures the conflict, fear and excitement of a man given the life of his dreams and little time to live it.

Andy Serkis – Rise of the Planet of the Apes

In one of 2011’s most controversial performances, Andy Serkis earns a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for a role in which his face is never seen. As Caesar, a super-intelligent ape who leads an uprising against humanity, Serkis’s performance was captured by computer and shaped into the form of an ape.

The role is controversial because critics are bitterly divided over whether or not Serkis deserves to be honored for his work. I come down on the side that appreciates the effort that went into Serkis’ motion capture performance but I would have preferred greatly to see the brilliant Corey Stoll honored here for his witty and endearing performance as Ernest Hemingway in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards airs live on VH1 on Thursday January 12th. Vote for  your favorite Best Supporting Actor nominee at

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