When the Oscar nominations are announced next week, they will undoubtedly omit some of the year’s most fun and lively performances. Among them are these suggestions, plus this list ...
1. Daniel Craig, ‘‘Casino Royale’’: No performance was more anticipated last year than Craig’s entry into the 007 canon, and the consensus was clear: the blond Bond more than met expectations. Craig’s nuanced performance came in that dirty genre (‘‘action movie’’) and therefore isn’t suited for the Oscars, even though they share the same taste in attire (tuxedos). The question is, now that Craig has illuminated the backstory of Bond’s early agent days, can he find a character arc for a fully formed 007?
2. Jack Black, ‘‘Nacho Libre’’: As a wannabe luchador wrestler, Black’s insanity leaps off the screen in the sometimes too-precious ‘‘Nacho Libre.’’ Whether in his red and aqua suit or simply curly-haired and mustachioed, seldom has a movie character ever been so funny simply by appearance.
3. The Kids: Child actors are infrequently honored. But several young actors were every bit as good as their elders in 2006: Ivana Baquero in ‘‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’’ Abigail Breslin in ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine’’ and the teenage Shareeka Epps in ‘‘Half Nelson.’’ Ryan Gosling may be winning accolades for wearily rubbing his face throughout ‘‘Half Nelson,’’ but Epps is the film’s conscience.
4. Dave Chappelle, ‘‘Block Party’’: It’s true that ‘‘Block Party’’ is a documentary, but don’t let that fool you — Chappelle is most certainly playing a part. As a mix of comedian, music-lover and social do-gooder, Chappelle hosts the concert he always wanted to see. He’s at his best doing his James Brown impression, explaining the power of ‘‘Hit me!’’
5. Aaron Eckhart, ‘‘Thank You for Smoking’’: With a politician’s smile, Eckhart impressively embodies tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor in this satire of political correctness. Naylor doesn’t miss a beat when his son asks him why the U.S. government is best: ‘‘Because of our endless appeals system.’’
6. Mark Wahlberg, ‘‘The Departed’’: Wahlberg is quietly putting together a solid resume as a supporting player. Before his fiery, expletive-laced performance in ‘‘The Departed,’’ Wahlberg’s existential motormouth was the best thing about ‘‘I (Heart) Huckabees.’’ As Dignam in ‘‘The Departed,’’ Wahlberg answers: ‘‘Who am I? I’m the guy that does his ... job! You must be the other guy!’’
7. Catherine O’Hara, ‘‘For Your Consideration’’: As the fittingly named Marilyn Hack, O’Hara plays an over-the-hill actress nearly deformed by plastic surgery. She stands out in Christopher Guest’s mockumentary of a small film (‘‘Home for Purim’’) that magically gathers wholly unwarranted Oscar buzz. If the academy had a better taste for irony, it would nominate O’Hara.
8. Kevin Kline, ‘‘A Prairie Home Companion’’: Kline is clearly having fun in bringing to life Guy Noir, the recurring ‘40s-style private eye character in Garrison Keillor’s beloved radio program. Maybe — like Greg Kinnear in ‘‘Little Miss Sunshine’’ — Kline gets overlooked for making it seem so effortless.
9. Rob Brydon, ‘‘Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story’’: If one pays attention to Michael Winterbottom’s uneven film-within-a-film, it’s clear all the best parts feature Brydon — especially his conversations with co-star Steve Coogan that bookend the movie. While the credits roll, he discusses the influences on his craft: ‘‘I look for truth, and that’s why I go to Pacino. That’s why I go to Hopkins. ... I go to Streisand.’’
10. Ken Davitian, ‘‘Borat’’: Yes, he’s actually an actor. Of all the things in Sacha Baron Cohen’s film that one questions as real or fake, you don’t for a minute doubt Davitian as Azamat Bagatov, Borat’s (mostly) loyal sidekick and manager. Without speaking a word of English, Davitian transformed into Bagatov as much as Baron Cohen did Borat. After all, he did supply most of the humor in the famed naked wrestling scene. And people think Will Ferrell is immodest.