I usually have trouble scrounging together choices for this category, but not this year. I had over twenty different possibilities written down before whittling the list down to these five nominees. I should probably point out ahead of time that I don’t necessarily define a cameo exclusively as a surprise appearance by a famous so much as any actor being able to make an impression out of a really small role that might not otherwise fit in a traditional acting award.
- Robert De Niro – American Hustle: Robert De Niro, who did some of his best work in a while in David O. Russell’s The Silver Linings Playbook, returns to the Russell fold in this short but memorable role in American Hustle. De Niro has of course played Mafioso characters a number of times in the past, but he is a little different here than he usually is in these kind of roles. He’s playing more of an aged don here; more Junior Soprano than Jimmy Conway.
- Channing Tatum – This is the End: This is the End is a movie that’s filled with cameos, like, to the point where they stop feeling like cameos. When just about every speaking role in a film is a celebrity playing themselves it kind of takes a little something extra for an appearance to be a surprise. That’s what happens when its revealed that Danny McBride’s personal gimp is none other than Magic Mike himself Channing Tatum. Dude clearly has a sense of humor.
- Chris Evans – Thor: The Dark World: I’ve become pretty suspicious about cameos in Marvel films at this point. More often than not they feel more like branding exercises than genuinely inspired moments, but they actually found a pretty creative way to do it here. Using Loki’s holographic disguising device they manage to bring Captain America into the film for a moment without actually bringing him into the film. Its fan service, but fun fan service.
- Romina Mondello – To the Wonder: I was saying before that I don’t necessarily think you need to be a famous person to fit in with this category, and that’s certainly the case with Romina Mondello, who has mostly worked in Italian television before making this brief appearance in To the Wonder. Playing a character that just sort of appears out of nowhere, she delivers a speech about living for one’s self which runs counter to the tortured devotion that most of the film’s characters suffer from. What’s more, she delivers this speech in a way that’s so charming I wanted to know more about her.
- Matthew McConaughey – The Wolf of Wall Street: Matthew McConaughey plays a pretty prominent role in the trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street, and I wonder is some audience members were disappointed to see him disappear from the film after about fifteen minutes. Still, he makes a hell of an impression in a short time in which he teaches Di Caprio’s character about the hedonistic ways of Wall Street. He also improvised that weird chest beating thing, and that’s just hilarious.