Sat. Sep 19th, 2020

Venice Film Festival: Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon, Sam Rockwell, Hong Chau Spark Oscar Buzz

The Venice Film Festival isn’t over – but four standout supporting performances are already getting considerable buzz. From The Shape of Water to Three Billboards to Downsizing, these four performances feature actors and actresses at the top of their game and Oscar clips that had everyone talking.

Three of these four performances are male – only one supporting actress delivered a memorable and substantial performance that will most likely appear on everyone’s lists come Oscar time. Two of these performances are from the same film – indicating how much The Shape of Water is likely to be very SAG friendly this awards season.

Here’s a roundup of these four performances and their Oscar clips (without spoilers):

Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water

Why he sparked Oscar buzz:

As a lonely, elderly man who was once a successful artist, Jenkins beautifully captures a portrait of a man whose time in the spotlight is long gone and who spends his days attempting to land drawing gigs and eat pies. He goes to the very same restaurant every day and stocks pies in his fridge, as if finding comfort in them. He is Elisa’s (Sally Hawkins) neighbor and the two share a special relationship, eating pies and watching classic musicals to escape from their brutal, unforgiving world. Jenkins brings great sensibility, vulnerability, humor and nuance to the role of a man who may not have lived the life he’d hoped for but is still trying to maintain his spirit and optimism.

Oscar clip: When Elisa faces a serious situation in the second half of the film, he hesitates to offer help and realizes how much fear is controlling his life. He goes to his favorite pie restaurant where a specific incident makes him realize Elisa is the only person he’s made a real connection with. Emotional and teary-eyed, he goes back and knocks on her door telling her he’s ready to do the craziest thing he’ll ever do – help her on her risky and dangerous mission.

Michael Shannon – The Shape of Water

Why he sparked Oscar buzz:

Michael Shannon is no stranger to Oscar-buzz roles. Like Nocturnal Animals, he plays a law official (security official to be exact) but this time he’s a twisted, sadistic persona that is self-serving, self-centered and morally questionable.

Shannon is menacing and utterly convincing and his role is the meatiest of all supporting characters in the film. Del Toro manages to bring the actor’s talent to life with a character that chews scenery and isn’t afraid to crush anyone that stands in its way.

Oscar clip: In one of the film’s final moments, Shannon pays a visit to Elisa’s best friend and colleague Zelda (Octavia Spencer) threating her to provide him with crucial information that will lead him to a culprit he’s been long following. Shannon delivers a powerhouse scene where he brutally wounds his own body in front of and her husband to strike fear in them. It’s a killer scene that is convincing and atmospheric. Shannon also has several Oscar scenes in the film – but this is the one that tops it all off.

Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Why he sparked Oscar buzz:

He’s been under-the-Oscar-radar for a while and hasn’t been given baity roles that can up AMPAS’s alley. This time around, he plays a darkly comic character of a novice cop who is more angry and reckless than he is keen on finding justice. Rockwell brings humor, pain and vulnerability to the role and manages to make it relatable and very convincing.

Oscar clip: Rockwell excels particularly in two very different scenes. In the first, he exhibits excessive violence and anger against an advertising executive who ran an anti-police billboard placed by Mildred (Frances McDormand). The scene is brutal and menacing. In the second, Rockwell shows the character’s vulnerable, aching side when he decides to change his stance on an issue he strongly believed in. He sheds a tear while making a powerful admission on the phone and you could see his transformation in a few seconds – and it’s a joy to behold.

Hong Chau – Downsizing

Why she sparked Oscar buzz:

She’s the first contender to be seen and emerge from Venice with her fantastic role in Payne’s latest. She plays an immigrant downsized against her own will and smuggled in a TV set that ends up at Target in Omaha. Chau plays the character with incredible grace, humor and humanity and will make you cry and laugh. She has all the makings of an Oscar winner.

Oscar clip: In a scene towards the second half of the film, she recalls the days when she lost her leg and was forced to be downsized. The scene starts with a light, funny touch where she recalls – in her funny accent – her first correspondence with the Norwegian doctor who was the first to successfully apply the downsizing experiment. She then starts to break audience’s hearts when she recalls her forced downsizing experience and its impact on her life and how she’d always hoped to meet that Norwegian doctor who, seeing how her downsizing had reduced her pain due to her lost leg – realized it’s the first time he’d never been so proud of his downsizing efforts when he heard her story and realized she was relieved from unbearable pain only to find herself on the margin of a downsized society that, even though became smaller in size, its ego and indifference are bigger than ever.

See where Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon, Sam Rockwell and Hong Chau place the Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress Oscar races right now.

[author title=”Mina Takla” image=””]Mina Takla is a foreign correspondent for AwardsWatch and the co-founder of The Syndicate, an online news agency that offers original content services to several film brands including Empire Magazine’s Middle East edition and the Dubai Film Festival. Takla has attended, covered and written from over 10 film festivals online including the Dubai International Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Cannes, Venice and Annecy Film Festivals. He been following the Oscar race since 2000 with accurate, office-pool winning predictions year after year. He writes monthly in Empire Arabia, the Arabic version of the world’s top cinema magazine and conducts press junkets with Hollywood stars in the UK and the US. He holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Marketing from Australia’s Wollongong University and is currently based in Dubai, UAE.[/author]

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