The Washington Post Sunday

These supporting actors stole the scene

- BY SONIA RAO

Each year’s slate of outstandin­g supporting actors generally contains several comical sidekicks and a bunch of worried parents. But this year, a flamboyant children’s movie villain and a masterful self-parody added some variety to the mix.

Here are our picks for the top 10 actors who stole scenes in smaller roles, ordered alphabetic­ally. Awkwafina, “Crazy Rich Asians”

It’s been a breakout year for Awkwafina, who appeared in two of the summer’s biggest movies — “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Ocean’s Eight” — before becoming the secondever Asian American woman to host “Saturday Night Live.” The rapper-actress plays Peik Lin Goh in the record-breaking romantic comedy, the quippy best friend to protagonis­t Rachel Chu (Constance Wu). But Awkwafina doesn’t let her character get sidelined, as the BFFs often are. Peik Lin instead utters many of the movie’s most uproarious lines — some of which Awkwafina improved — such as telling Rachel her future mother-in-law thinks of her as an “unrefined banana” or referring to Rachel’s boyfriend as the “Asian Bachelor.” Hugh Grant, “Paddington 2”

“Paddington 2” director Paul King created the part of Phoenix Buchanan — an arrogant, washed-up actor who turns to a life of crime — with Grant in mind. As if to prevent that perception from taking hold in real life, Grant acts the hell out of the role. Phoenix is a delightful villain who dresses up in nun, knight and businessma­n costumes to carry out his evil plans against Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw). Grant fully commits to the shtick, casting his ego aside in favor of sheer absurdity. He even shimmies his way through a song-and-dance number during the credits, and steals the movie as easily as he steals Paddington’s coveted pop-up book. Josh Hamilton, “Eighth Grade”

Last year gave us Michael Stuhlbarg’s supportive monologue to heartsick movie son Timothée Chalamet in “Call Me by Your Name.” This year’s stellar parenting scene

arrived with “Eighth Grade,” in which Mark (Hamilton) tells the insecure Kayla (Elsie Fisher) how lucky he feels to be her father. “Some parents have to love their kids despite who their kids are,” he says. “Not me. I get to love you because of who you are.” Hamilton delivers an honest performanc­e, capturing Mark’s confusion when Kayla lashes out and his sweetness when he boosts her confidence. Anne Hathaway, “Ocean’s Eight”

It shouldn’t surprise anyone by now that Hathaway can command an audience’s full attention. But when the movie’s ensemble cast also includes Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina and Rihanna? Whew. As narcissist­ic actress Daphne Kluger in “Ocean’s Eight,” Hathaway cleverly parodies the affected personalit­y her Hathahater­s believe she has. She makes the most out of the flimsy plot, filling out her prima donna character with campy temper tantrums and snappy comebacks. Brian Tyree Henry, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Henry can convey years of pain with a single facial expression, an ability he exhibits as Paper Boi on FX’s “Atlanta” and, now, in the Barry Jenkins film “If Beale Street Could Talk.” In a pivotal scene, Henry’s character, Daniel Carty, describes to his friend Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James) what it was like to be incarcerat­ed. Daniel’s words point to the discrimina­tion that black men like he and Fonny face, his disquietin­g tone to the anguish it has caused him. He only appears this one time in “Beale Street,” but his words return to haunt us when Fonny gets put behind bars for a crime he did not commit. Russell Hornsby, “The Hate U Give”

“The Hate U Give,” adapted from Angie Thomas’s young-adult novel, kicks into gear when high schooler Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) witnesses a white cop kill her friend, who is black. But the film’s defining scene arrives earlier, when her father, Maverick (Hornsby), gives his children “the talk” about how to behave in the presence of police officers. “Being black is an honor ’cause you come from greatness,” he adds in the first of many scenes to highlight his hard-earned wisdom. Hornsby portrays Mav with tenderness, and the character’s refusal to let his children forget their community’s resilience supports Starr’s evolution into an activist. Jesse Plemons, “Game Night”

Plemons has come a long way, as the only thing his character in “Game Night” has in common with his breakout role as Landry Clarke in “Friday Night Lights” is proximity to Kyle Chandler. As Gary, the lonely cop who lives next door to the main characters, Plemons plays up the creepiness that became his forte through roles in “Breaking Bad” and “Black Mirror.” Gary isn’t a major player in “Game Night” — he’s lonely in part because he never receives an invitation. But when he does appear — such as when he suddenly turns up on his driveway, eerily stroking his dog’s fur — it’s hard to look away. Maura Tierney, “Beautiful Boy”

There are several emotionall­y driving scenes in “Beautiful Boy,” but none as effective as the one in which artist Karen (Tierney) chases her drug-addicted stepson, Nic (Chalamet) after he flees their home. We see Karen’s car follow Nic’s as he makes sudden turns one after another, a sequence broken up by shots of their expression­s — his panicked, hers anguished. She eventually gives up, reduced to tears. The movie largely focuses on a father’s relationsh­ip with his troubled son, but Tierney — an underrated performer who can convey intense emotions in a subdued manner, as seen on “ER” and “The Affair” — seizes this moment for herself. Michelle Williams, “I Feel Pretty”

Williams has also played her fair share of grief-stricken women, but “I Feel Pretty” gave her the chance to try her hand at comedy. As cosmetics company chief Avery LeClair, Williams keeps her facial expression­s neutral and lets her squeaky voice, which is even higher than her “My Week With Marilyn” pitch, do the heavy lifting. She makes Avery’s mannerisms as awkward as her social interactio­ns (she greets someone by saying, “I thought I smelled animal products!”). Even playing opposite Amy Schumer, a profession­al comedian, Williams winds up the most hilarious part of the whole thing. Steven Yeun, “Burning”

The unsettling feeling that builds throughout “Burning” doesn’t come from the twistyturn­y plot, but from the characters themselves. At first, Ben (Steven Yeun) seems to just be a charming Gangnam resident who swoops in at an inconvenie­nt time for protagonis­t Jongsu (Ah-in Yoo), who has just fallen for Ben’s maybe-girlfriend Haemi (Jong-seo Jun). But Jongsu’s distaste for Ben seems more warranted as the film progresses, especially when the latter reveals that he torches abandoned greenhouse­s for fun. Yeun skillfully captures the intriguing yet unnerving nature of a professed firebug. Even his yawns are frightenin­g.

Honorable mentions: Olivia Colman in “The Favourite,” Richard E. Grant in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Thomasin McKenzie in “Leave No Trace,” Margot Robbie in “Mary Queen of Scots” and Letitia Wright in “Black Panther.”

 ?? WELL GO USA ENTERTAINM­ENT/WELL GO USA ENTERTAINM­ENT ?? Ben (Steven Yeun) seems to just be a charming Gangnam resident in “Burning.” But he’s a firebug.
WELL GO USA ENTERTAINM­ENT/WELL GO USA ENTERTAINM­ENT Ben (Steven Yeun) seems to just be a charming Gangnam resident in “Burning.” But he’s a firebug.
 ?? SANJA BUCKO/WARNER BROS. PICTURES ??
SANJA BUCKO/WARNER BROS. PICTURES
 ?? FRANCOIS DUHAMEL/AMAZON STUDIOS ?? TOP: Awkwafina plays Peik Lin Goh, the quippy best friend to Rachel Chu, in “Crazy Rich Asians.” ABOVE: Maura Tierney, with Steve Carell, in “Beautiful Boy” conveys intense emotions in a subdued manner.
FRANCOIS DUHAMEL/AMAZON STUDIOS TOP: Awkwafina plays Peik Lin Goh, the quippy best friend to Rachel Chu, in “Crazy Rich Asians.” ABOVE: Maura Tierney, with Steve Carell, in “Beautiful Boy” conveys intense emotions in a subdued manner.

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