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100 best supporting performances of all time according to baumer (will start again today..for sure!)

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I'm not going to start this for a while as I realize we are knee deep into everyone's best list of the year, plus the Boffy's are just around the corner.  


But when the lists start dying down, I'm going to start my list of the best 100 male supporting actor performances of all time.  Now, I'm just going to repeat what others have said....my opinions are kind of unique, at least to the members of this site.  So you will see some performances here that might confound and confuse you.  You also might strongly agree with many of them and some you might just think WTF baumer!


This started in my head when I started thinking of some of the best performances I've ever been privy to seeing.  And I began to realise that many of my favourite performances of all time are of the supporting kind.  So it got me thinking of the best 100, according to movie IQ and acumen.


So sit tight and strap in.  I think we will have some fun with this one.  I can tell you that there are some very traditional performances on this list and there are at least a dozen that you might not agree with.  


Should be fun. 

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I'm going to start this tonight.  There's a lot goin gon but I will be respectful of the Boffy's and the Top 25 films of the year.  When it's their time to present, I will put this on hold.  But this is going to take some time, so I might as well get it started now while I have some time.

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What makes a great supporting performance?  Why am I going with supporting and not all around performance?  


First, I'm going with supporting because a lot of my favourite performances are of the supporting kind.  There's a lot of terrific and iconic lead performances as well, and maybe we'll tackle that another time, but for now, I'll stick to supporting.


What makes a great supporting performance?  In my eyes, a great supporting performance is one that I remember and it stands out.  I give high marks to actors who can create something memorable out of something that was never really there to begin with.  I'll give you a couple of examples.


The performance that came in tied at number four was by an actor who took the rather benign character and told the director that he had an idea for the character and that at first the director would not understand what he was doing, nor would the other actors.  But to give him time and it would all make sense.  He took a fifth member of a group, one who had the least amount of lines and turned him into something iconic and memorable.  


Another performance on the list is from someone that when you first see the name, will probably make you snicker and mumble something about baumer being baumer.  But this actor is nothing like the bombastic, loud-mouthed larger than life character he plays.  And every sneer, snort, growl and shriek of anger is one that he helped create.  


These are the performances that stand out to me.  There will be lots of classic performances on the list and some that are just personal to me.  You won't agree with all of them, but you might get some insight as to why it's great in my world.  


I have a list of 100 performances here.  I can not rank them 1-100 so instead, I have my top ten ironed out.  The other 90 will be present by decade.  We'll start with the earliest performances first and the latest ones last.  Then I will reveal the top ten.  


And finally please keep in mind, my knowledge of cinema basically starts in the 60's.  So there won't be any performances on here prior to 1970 (I believe).


I hope you at least have some fun, and maybe learn a little along the way.

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The 1970's


Burgess Meredith- Mickey Goldmill (Rocky 1976)


Nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor, Burgess Meredith brought to life the Irish Jew, Mickey Goldmill.  Meredith first came to prominence when he played the Penguin on the 1966 television series Batman.  On the show, Meredith was so loved that the producers always had a script ready just in case Meredith said he wanted to guest star that week.  Meredith worked steady in Hollywood before he did Rocky, but Rocky was the film that changed his life and it's the role he's known for.  His raspy voice and small stature was juxtaposed against his iron will and tough training.  Stallone wrote him some very good lines and with Meredith delivering them, some of them became iconic for their time.  "You're gonna eat lightning and crap thunder" was one of the lines that Mickey became famous for.  In my opinion, he should have won best supporting that year.  


"After appearing in over 120 films, Rocky was my first smash hit."


"Mickey is one of my favourite characters.  I've seen a lot of men like him in my time---beaten people who have been worn down by life.  I like him because, despite his resentment at never having made it, he wants to save his young friend Rocky from a similar fate."


“In addition to all the other elements surrounding the changes that Mickey brings about, the script has included a warm, very touching statement about the love between mentor and student, friend and friend – playing these scenes with Stallone was a real highlight of the making of the Rocky films.”



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James Caan- Sonny Corleone (The Godfather 1972) 


James Caan has been acting for seven decades now and he has been in more than 125 productions in film and TV.  But he will forever be identified as Sonny Corleone, from the Godfather.  


Originally Caan was to be cast as the main character Michael Corleone, while Carmine Caridi was signed as Sonny. However director Francis For Coppola demanded that the role of Michael be played by Al Pacino instead. The studio agreed to Pacino but insisted on having Caan be cast as Sonny, so he remained in the production.


During the making of The Godfather, James Caan was often seen in the company of future Colombo crime family boss Carmine Persico and other gangsters and had absorbed so many of their mannerisms that undercover agents thought for a while that he was just another rising gangster in the crime syndicate.


Both Robert Duvall and James Caan also attended Carmine Persico's courth hearings together and payed attention to his mannerisms, gestures, diction and accent for their roles in the film.


James Caan's parlance in The Godfather was the inspiration for the name of a strip club featured in The Sopranos, the "Bada Bing".


The Godfather is a film that started the careers of many actors, including Robert Duval and Al Pacino.  


Caan was nominated for best supporting actor along with Pacino and Duval.


Caan was closely identified with the role for years afterward: "They called me a wiseguy. I won Italian of the Year twice in New York, and I'm not Italian.... I was denied in a country club once. Oh yeah, the guy sat in front of the board, and he says, 'No, no, he's a wiseguy, been downtown. He's a made guy.' I thought, What? Are you out of your mind?"


The Godfather is one of the iconic films in Hollywood history and James Caan gave one of the more memorable performances.  




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Al Pacino- Michael Corleone (The Godfather 1972)


Al Pacino's performance in the Godfather is considered as one of the greatest performances of all time by the film community and historians alike.  I too feel it is one of the best.  The Godfather made my list of films that brainwashed people into thinking they are great but that doesn't mean I don't like the films.  I do and part of the reason is the brilliant acting.  Al Pacino leads the way.  In 1973 he was nominated for best supporting actor along with Robert Duval and James Caan.  He refused to show up at the Oscars that year because he felt he should have been in the lead category.  


It was the 1971 film The Panic in Needle Park, in which he played a heroin addict, that brought Pacino to the attention of director Francis Ford Coppola, who then cast him as Michael Corleone in the blockbuster Mafia film. Although several established actors—including Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, and little-known Robert De Niro—also tried out for the part, Coppola selected the relatively unknown Pacino, to the dismay of studio executives.

Pacino's performance was something studios hadn't really seen before and offered a prime example of his early acting style, described by Halliwell's Film Guide as "intense" and "tightly clenched". 


“Michael Corleone in The Godfather was and still is the most difficult role I’ve played. I didn’t see him as a gangster; I felt his power was his enigmatic quality,” 

Pacino continued, “Unfortunately the studio couldn’t see that at first and were thinking of firing me. It was during my early career, a major movie with Marlon Brando, and no one other than Francis Ford Coppola wanted me for the part.”


The Godfather is considered to be one of the greatest Hollywood films of all time and the sequel The Godfather Part II is often cited as the best sequel.



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Sir Alec Guiness- Obi Wan Kenobi (Star Wars 1977)


Sir Alec Guiness has had a distinguished career.  He's been nominated for 5 Oscars and 2 Emmy's.  He won best actor in 1958 for Bridge Over River Kwai and has been in almost 70 films.  And yet the film that he took just for the money is the one that he was forever known for.  


Star Wars needs no introduction as it is part of the fabric of film history.  And most of us here know the story of how Guiness thought the script for Star Wars was "rubbish".    For those who don't, here is one quote from Guiness' letter as published in Guiness' memoires.


"I have been offered a movie (20th Cent. Fox) which I may accept, if they come up with proper money. London and N. Africa, starting in mid-March. Science fiction – which gives me pause – but is to be directed by Paul Lucas who did "American Graffiti, which makes me feel I should. Big part. Fairy-tale rubbish but could be interesting perhaps."


And once he was on set, Guinness was no more impressed, writing to his friend:


"... new rubbish dialogue reaches me every other day on wadges of pink paper – and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable. I just think, thankfully, of the lovely bread, which will help me keep going until next April even if Yahoo collapses in a week ... I must off to studio and work with a dwarf (very sweet – and he has to wash in a bidet) and your fellow countrymen Mark Hamill and Tennyson (that can't be right) Ford. Ellison (? – No!) – well, a rangy, languid young man who is probably intelligent and amusing. But Oh, God, God, they make me feel ninety – and treat me as if I was 106. – Oh, Harrison Ford – ever heard of him?"


"When I was casting the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi for Star Wars, I was looking for an actor who brought a certain authority to the role. Someone who was powerful yet gentle and that came across in Alec as a person and as an actor." George Lucas


The role of Obi Wan Kenobi garnered Guiness an Oscar nomination and he gained a whole new set of fans.  Her performance and character is the glue that holds the film together.  He's responsible for the exposition.  He explains the force to Luke, and in turn to us, the viewer.  He has a lot of the technical jargon, that which he called fairy tale stuff.  Without his calm demeanour and effortless delivery, Star Wars could have been a different film all together.  



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1 hour ago, baumer said:

Al Pacino- Michael Corleone (The Godfather 1972)


 In 1973 he was nominated for best supporting actor along with Robert Duval and James Caan.  He refused to show up at the Oscars that year because he felt he should have been in the lead category.  




He's right. :ph34r:

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15 hours ago, baumer said:

Burgess Meredith- Mickey Goldmill (Rocky 1976)


A truly wonderful actor. I don't think I've ever not loved him in anything. I finally got around to watching Batman, and you can just see the joy Meredith had in playing the penguin, willing to play full ham.

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