Review of 2013: Top 10 supporting acting performances of the year

The Popcorn Muncher's Review of 2013

In the second part of my round-up of the acting performances of 2013, I’m casting the spotlight on the ten best supporting performances of the year.

Some of them are going to be in the mix for awards season in the next few weeks and, due to funky UK release schedules, some were there last year. And then there are some that won’t even come close to a statuette, but were just as brilliant.

Here we go, as my Review of 2013 continues.


10. Jamie Foxx – White House Down

Jame Foxx as President Sawyer in White House Down

It’s not going to win any awards and it certainly isn’t an outstanding piece of cinema, but Roland Emmerich’s crazy actioner White House Down was one of the more fun movies at 2013. Channing Tatum’s lunk-headed, vest-wearing impression of Bruce Willis was a joy in itself, but a lot of the fun came from Jamie Foxx as a fantastic, Obama-esque President of the United States.

In these films, the President tends to be nothing more than a hanger-on and a nuisance, but Foxx’s leader was more than willing to wield a rocket launcher and get his hands dirty. He also got by far the film’s best line.

“As the President of the United States, this comes with the full weight, power and authority of my office. Fuck you.”


9. Tom Hanks – Saving Mr Banks

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in Saving Mr Banks

Whilst the undisputed star of Saving Mr Banks was Emma Thompson with her prickly performance as PL Travers, Tom Hanks glittered with his avuncular, twinkly portrayal of Walt Disney.

Some have criticised the film for smoothing the edges of the man behind the Mouse House, but Hanks’ portrayal shows a man who is prepared to do anything to get what he wants.

He’s in the running for Best Supporting Actor at many of the awards ceremonies and it’s a great performance that, along with Captain Phillips, cemented the man as one of the stars of the year.


8. Sam Rockwell – The Way Way Back

Sam Rockwell as Owen in The Way Way Back

The Way Way Back was one of the most interesting comedy films of 2013. And at its heart was a joyous performance by Sam Rockwell as Owen – the protagonist’s new, fun-loving father figure.

In the film, Owen is the antithesis of Steve Carell’s evil stepdad. He is a man who is prepared to be brutally honest and also shamelessly optimistic. And despite the machismo and arrogance he outwardly projects, there is a sensitive, troubled side to him that Rockwell perfectly portrays.

It’s a masterful comic performance from Rockwell that makes the most of the great script. The beauty of it is that it deals with both silliness and solemnity in equal measure.


7. Josh Gad – Frozen

Josh Gad as Olaf in Frozen

Acting performances in animated films do not get the attention they deserve. And, in the case of Disney’s Frozen, Josh Gad’s portrayal of the anthropomorphic snowman Olaf is a true highlight that should be recognised more than it has been.

Put simply, Olaf could very easily have been a dull character who existed merely to sell toys and lunchboxes, in the style of every character in Planes. However, thanks partly to the brilliance of the writing, Josh Gad turns the character into one of the most loveable creations of animated cinema in the last few years.

He’s just as memorable as the minions in Despicable Me.


6. Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine

Sally Hawkins as Ginger in Blue Jasmine

As with Saving Mr Banks, most of the plaudits from Blue Jasmine will go to the lead performance. If Cate Blanchett doesn’t win at the 2014 Oscars, there’s probably something wrong with the Academy because her performance is towering.

However, equally strong is Sally Hawkins as Jasmine’s sister Ginger. She absolutely nails the put-upon sister part and beautifully underplays everything next to Blanchett’s enormous portrayal.



5. Moises Arias – The Kings of Summer

Moises Arias as Biaggio in The Kings of Summer

Coming of age comedy The Kings of Summer was one of the best films of 2013. It was a hilarious, heartfelt tale that benefited from a sense of quirk and a strange tone similar to classic Stand By Me. A lot of the comedy came from the beautifully deadpan Moises Arias, in his role as bizarre tag-along Biaggio.

In many ways, Biaggio was the non-sequitur spouting equivalent of Anchorman’s Brick Tamland in this film. His lines were perfectly formed nuggets of weirdness, delivered with excellent comic timing by the Nickelodeon alumnus.

It’s an extraordinary performance from Arias that will hopefully lead the young man behind it to bigger things in the future.


4. Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips

Barkhad Abdi as Muse in Captain Phillips

In his debut film performance, Barkhad Abdi made a huge impression in Captain Phillips, playing Muse – leader of the film’s group of Somalian pirates. Playing alongside Tom Hanks would’ve been daunting for many young actors, but Abdi takes it all in his stride.

His portrayal of a desperate hijacker is nothing short of terrifying, with yellowing teeth and wielding an AK-47. From the moment he first appears on screen, he has a noticeable presence, which really says something about his natural screen charisma.


3. Daniel Brühl – Rush

Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda in Rush

Arriving in the wake of Asif Kapadia’s scintillating documentary Senna, Rush was an interesting portrayal of the dangers of F1 motor racing. Whilst Chris Hemsworth led the film as James Hunt, it was Daniel Brühl who really stole the show as the rat-faced genius Niki Lauda, before and after his horrific 1976 accident.

Brühl perfectly embodies Lauda’s obsessive personality and his desire to always have control of the situation. Even after the scenes of the accident, his performance is not overwhelmed by the prosthetics and make-up he wears. It’s a masterful display.

He is attracting attention from the awards organisations and this could be the year Brühl’s career really takes off.


2. Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables

Anne Hathaway as Fantine in Les Miserables

Being showered with Best Supporting Actress awards during last year’s awards season, Anne Hathaway’s turn in Les Miserables was one of the most stunning displays of 2013.

She is only on the screen for around 20 minutes, but in that time, she manages to place the whole film into her handbag and waltz off with the plaudits. Her teary rendition of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ was a huge emotional triumph and was perhaps the only time Tom Hooper’s hyper close-up direction was justified.

In only a short period of time, Hathaway managed to do something unforgettable, and that justifies her high placing on this list.


1. Leonardo DiCaprio – Django Unchained

Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie in Django Unchained

Christoph Waltz may have walked away with a shelf full of gongs for his performance in Django Unchained, but my awards would’ve gone to Leonardo DiCaprio for his astonishingly nasty portrayal of slaver Calvin Candie.

Whether he’s inciting his slaves to fight to the death or merely sitting around a table, he exudes a sinister air that never lets up. It’s a performance that could only work within the heightened atmosphere of a Quentin Tarantino film and DiCaprio should’ve been better recognised for it.

More than anything though, one scene helps DiCaprio to stand out. He smashes his hand against some glass, which genuinely slices open his hand. With blood pouring from his wound, he continues to perform a passionate, dialogue-heavy scene as if nothing had happened. It’s an absolute masterclass.


Do you agree with me about the best supporting acting performances of 2013? Let me know in the comments section below.

One thought on “Review of 2013: Top 10 supporting acting performances of the year

  • 11/01/2014 at 20:43

    I completely agree with Barkhad Abdi being a great supporting actor! Captain Phillips was one of my favourite films I saw last year, and even though Hank’s performance was incredibly moving – but when wouldn’t it be, he’s extremely talented – it would be flat and forced if it was for Abdi. Instead of being a 2d Hollywood bad guy, it was great to see the desperation and turmoil in the character. Nice post 😀


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