Davis, Viola

I don’t think I have talked much about this publicly. But I will now.

I liked TARAJI P. HENSON’S performance a lot.

But there is only ONE actor that I can put my wholehearted support behind in that category…and that is VIOLA DAVIS.

As far as the men are concerned…

I did think that MICHAEL SHANNON – in the short screen time that he had available to him – was extraordinary in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD.

I don’t ever promote someone at CP unless I like them and think that they’re worthwhile in terms of discussion.

This article was originally about VIOLA.

But rather than reworking it extensively and editorializing (as I do with everything that goes up that I don’t write myself) I decided to leave the references to MICHAEL in.

He was superb and he definitely deserves a mention.

For VIOLA DAVIS, it may have been her character’s shocking admission that she’s glad a priest has shown kindness to her troubled son, no matter what the man might have done to the boy in return.

For MICHAEL SHANNON, it may have been his character’s savage parting shot, an exclamation to his thoughts on two peoples’ hypocrisy and crumbling marriage.

Sometimes, ACADEMY AWARD nominations come down to small but crucial moments, and this season, VIOLA and MICHAEL delivered, each landing in the supporting acting categories with only a couple of scenes and a few minutes of screen time.

With a tiny role in the Roman Catholic drama DOUBT, VIOLA managed to stand out against lead players MERYL STREEP and PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, who also earned OSCAR nominations for much fuller parts.

MICHAEL ran away with his two scenes in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD and picked up the film’s only acting nod.

“I was totally shocked,” MICHAEL said of his nomination.

“There are so many performances in the movie that I feel are so on the nose. The movie itself was just kind of a dream world for me…and to see all these amazing actors bring these characters to life, it’s hard to believe that I was the one getting singled out. But I’m grateful for it.”

The ACADEMY AWARDS will be held this Sunday.

VIOLA and MICHAEL are the latest in a venerable line of OSCAR scene stealers – actors who score an invite to HOLLYWOOD’S biggest night by putting across a big performance in a very short amount of time.

About two dozen actors over the last 50 years have grabbed OSCAR nominations with less than 10 minutes of screen time.

Some wind up winning, such as DAME JUDI DENCH as Britain’s imperious monarch in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and BEATRICE STRAIGHT as a woman fed up with her husband’s philandering in NETWORK.

A year ago, RUBY DEE had a SUPPORTING ACTRESS nomination with less than five minutes on screen in AMERICAN GANGSTER, playing a responsible woman who delivers a sharp wallop to the face of her crime lord son.

In 2005, WILLIAM HURT did not show up until close to the end of A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. Yet he earned a SUPPORTING ACTOR slot as a crime boss undone in the blink of an eye, locked out of his own house and left patting his pockets for his keys while all hell breaks loose inside.

As mentally ill mathematician JOHN GIVINGS in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, MICHAEL SHANNON makes his presence felt from the moment he first encounters LEO Di CAPRIO (FRANK WHEELER) and KATE WINSLET (APRIL WHEELER), bashing away at the polite facade they collectively present to the world.

JOHN GIVINGS’ last words ring the harshest, though, as he points at APRIL’S stomach and roars: “I’m glad about one thing, though. You know what I’m glad about? I’m glad I’m not gonna be that kid!”

In DOUBT, VIOLA DAVIS – playing the mother of troubled student DONALD MILLER – has a slow and steady build up towards her dramatic high point, quietly deflecting a nun’s suspicions that her son may have been abused by a priest (PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN) at a Catholic school.

As the nun (MERYL STREEP) presses the matter, Donald’s mother confesses the trauma her son has endured at his previous school and at home at the hands of a violent father.

“Do I ask the man why he’s good to my son? No. I don’t care why,” she bemoans.

“My son needs some man to care about him and to see him through the way he wants to go. I thank God this educated man with some kindness in him wants to do just that.”

It’s rare for two of the 10 supporting spots to go to actors in tiny roles. The fact that both VIOLA and MICHAEL made the cut was a testament to the strong impact both performers had with just a few choice moments.

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