I’ve struggled to decide if this was really going to be a category about true walk on cameos and work that’s closer to being a supporting role but which is too limited to really compete in that category. I’ve never truly decided where my opinion lands on this, so I’ll be straddling that line with these nominees. Some of them pop up briefly, almost for the purposes of shock value, which is more an award for the producers who had the idea to cast them, while others are nominated more for their own ability to do great work with limited material.
- Phillip Baker Hall- 50/50: The first of my “old dudes in dramedies” nomination subset is this nomination for Phillip Baker Hall, who shows up in the film as a cancer patient of the more conventional aged variety. The character forms an entertaining, but poignant, friendship with the film’s protagonist based on both a mutual problem and on a taste for medical marijuana. They could have easily casted a nobody in this part, but they paid for a veteran character actor and it paid off.
- Robert Forster- The Descendants: Robert Forster was brought back from obscurity by Quentin Tarentino when he was cast in Jackie Brown. The next decade proved that getting a career resurrection by Tarentino isn’t always everything it’s cracked up to be, but that’s okay, because he did manage to get this small but memorable role in The Descendants. He’s playing something of a gruff grandfather archetype, but he brings a lot of humanity to the character.
- James Franco- The Green Hornet: We’re introduced to Chudnofsky, the main villain of The Green hornet played by Christoph Waltz, in this amusing scene where he shakes down an upstart club owner/drug dealer named Danny Clear who clearly thinks he’s big shit. As it turns out he isn’t big shit and is promptly killed, however, before this happens we get to see James Franco give a very strange and deliberately douchey monologue about what it takes to be a criminal these days.
- Adrian Brody- Midnight in Paris: There were a number of cameos in Midnight in Paris, with famous actors like Kathy Bates and Corey Stoll playing historical figures in the 1920s scenes, but the most memorable (and most cameo-like) one is from Adrian Brody and his portrayal of the famed surrealist Salvador Dalí. Brody certainly nails the comedicly broad Spanish accent and decadent mannerisms of Dalí, but I especially liked how his character became fixated on the work rhinoceros, err, excuse me “rhinoceros.”
- Hugh Jackman– X-Men: First Class: There’s a scene in the film where Xavier and Magneto need to track down other mutants circa 1963 and given that Wolverine has already been established as a virtual immortal, it would seem logical that they would try to approach him. Most movies would have just left this dangling, but here they decide to have a little fun with the idea and give Hugh Jackman a funny cameo where he only needs to say three words to move things along and make an impression.