brent johnson makes grandiose statements about best supporting actor favorite christoph waltz — and we agree …
My friends joke that I tend to make grandiose statements about pop culture. Like: Chicago is the most underrated mainstream pop group of the 1970s. I’m sure I’ve declared that one before.
Now, I’m going to make another declaration — and this one I truly mean: Christoph Waltz’s portrayal of Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds is the greatest supporting acting performance of all time.
Waltz, an Austrian actor who was unknown stateside until his role in Quentin Tarantino’s World War II fantasy, is practically a lock to win Best Supporting Actor at Sunday’s Oscars. He’s already taken almost every other statuette this awards season.
And he’s deserved them all. I literally get excited when I think about his performance. It’s reason alone to see the film at least a few times in a few months.
By definition, supporting performances are meant to provide support in a film — offering bursts of robust thrill and emotion or lending quirky color to the story. Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda. Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting. Judi Dench in Shakeaspeare In Love.
But occasionally, a supporting performance transcends that. It becomes a reason to keep watching — where you wait for that character to return to the screen. Heath Ledger did that last year in The Dark Knight — a mesmerizing portrayal that earned him an Oscar.
Waltz is even better — for a number of reasons:
1. He’s charming yet chilling — a Nazi officer who is cunning, intelligent, smarmy, humorous, confident and attention-grabbing.
2. He dominates an opening scene unlike any other in film this year — one that scares you and keeps you terrified, beat by beat.
3. He dominates a closing scene unlike any other in film this year — one that grips you and makes you laugh along the way.
4. He’s nuanced but yet not hammy. The performance seems amazingly organic for a character that is almost a cartoon.
5. And he does all of it in four languages.
Ledger was incredible because he embodied The Joker will such originality — that voice, those motions, that satanic assurance. He steals the film.
So does Waltz. And he gets extra points for doing it in a Tarantino picture.