As the trophies are being handed out at this weekend's Academy Awards, can we take a short moment to consider the category Oscar has never deigned to recognize? Sure, Daniel Day-Lewis is monumental in There Will Be Blood. Yeah, Cate Blanchett makes an awesome Bob Dylan. But what about the great actors who make the most out of one-, two-, and three-scene roles? What about the scene-stealers, the actors who sweep a movie up in five minutes and walk off with it in their back pockets? Who will stick up for the little guys?
Vulture, that's who! We're proud to present the First Annual Vulture Award for Best Performance in a Bit Part.
And the nominees are...
Daniel Brühl, The Bourne Ultimatum
Among a cavalcade of excellent actors in small parts in Bourne is German actor Daniel Brühl, who shines in a short but potent scene as the brother of Bourne's dead lover Marie.
Sacha Baron Cohen, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Preening and prancing, his pants bulging authoritatively at the crotch, Cohen is hilarious as Signor Adolfo Pirelli — but the comic actor also shows a dangerous and sadistic side his previous roles have only hinted at.
Kathy Lamkin, No Country for Old Men
If Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh is the banal face of evil in No Country, Kathy Lamkin's Desert Aire trailer-park manager is the banal face of banality. As blogger Nathaniel Rogers at the Film Experience hilariously notes, she's the only character in the whole movie who seems like she'd happily take Chigurh on.
Amy Madigan, Gone Baby Gone
Amy Ryan got an Oscar nomination for playing the mother of a missing girl, but Amy Madigan — as the sorrowful aunt who brings Casey Affleck's detective into the case — is touching and fierce in a tiny but pivotal role.
Kristen Wiig, Knocked Up
Wiig is as vicious, fake-friendly, and undercutting as your worst nightmare of a co-worker, and her totally unconvincing laugh is among the film's most memorable moments.
And the Vulture goes to ...
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Living legend Dee is mesmerizing as Denzel Washington's saintly but steely mother. This is the kind of performance that the Oscars would never, ever grant a nomination to — after all, as the above YouTube clip makes clear, she appears in the movie for only five minutes, total! Luckily, the Vulture Award is here to pick up the Academy's slack.