Best Supporting Actors
In the potentially cartoonish role of an evil Japanese henchman, Postlethwaite played it straight-faced and thus did a much better, and much less obtrusive, job of showing he was having fun than did Spacey and Del Toro. Naturally it was Spacey who won that year's Oscar for best supporting actor, not Postlethwaite. (But then, Spacey's character faked not only a physical handicap but also a borderline mental one, surefire Oscar bait.)
Not that Spacey's and Del Toro's performances were bad; those guys are too talented for that. But mugging by a good actor is still mugging. Maybe he and Del Toro felt they had to stand out from a cast that included Giancarlo Esposito, Paul Bartel, Chazz Palminteri, and Gabriel Byrne, doing no better or no worse a job than he always does playing Gabriel Byrne.
Back to Postlethwaite. His performance was the best I've seen by a supporting actor in some time, up there with Paddy Considine's and Aidan Gillen's in Blitz, even worthy of mention in the same breath as Takashi Shimura's work in numerous films for Akira Kurosawa.
Now it's your turn. Do some method acting, become thinkers, and answer these questions: Why do some actors mug? Why do others not? Whose fault is it when they do? Are American movie stars more prone to mugging than British, Irish, Japanese, or other stars? What are your favorite performances by supporting actors (in the non-gendered sense; name some favorite supporting actresses, too.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2014