Circuit Considerations: Ray Romano in ‘The Big Sick’ for Best Supporting Actor

Oscar ballots were sent to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, or better known as the Academy members, on Friday, Jan. 5.  We’ll be using the next week to remind the voting membership of our favorite films and performance of 2017 that they should consider when filling out their ballots!  If you missed one, then please click on the “Circuit Considerations 2017” tag.  You can also check out the “Best of 2017” column where the Editor cited the year’s best.  Oscar ballots are due on Friday, Jan. 12.

There’s a reason “The Big Sick” reaps as many citations for best ensemble as it does, including at SAG. Every actor in the ensemble pulls their weight to deliver believable, human and funny performances. Holly Hunter reaps most of the film’s buzz for her role as Beth, the spitfire mother of a woman in a coma. However, her work succeeds as much as it does thanks to Ray Romano’s performance as her beleaguered husband, Terry. Ever the epitome of a supporting actor, Romano crafts a loving, offbeat father and husband who hasn’t always been the best in both roles. Romano never judges the character. Instead, he seeks to unearth what makes Terry a lovable schmuck.

The film introduces Terry in the vein of any girl’s clueless but clumsy Father. He struggles to make small talk with Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani), even as he means well. The topic turns to 9/11 in a turn that shows Terry’s own underlying inability to talk successfully about race. Yet, the film wisely doesn’t veer into the story of watching a white couple redeem themselves through friending a person of color. Instead, Romano brings Terry closer to Kumail through their shared love of his daughter Emily (Zoe Kazan).

In many ways, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano’s performances can’t exist without one another. Their characters share decades of marriage and history. One sees this in the way they know how to calm each other down and what fights to pick. Even at a low point in their marriage, the two share a brain in their day to day lives. They go through their journey of becoming friends with their daughter’s new boyfriend together. Romano works just as hard as Hunter does in building this shared life through these nuances and moments.

Even when he’s in the “doghouse,” so to speak, Terry supports his family. In Hunter’s biggest scene, where she spars with a racist fratboy, Romano earns the last word. As he whisks his wife out of a confrontation, he tries to apologize, but then ends up sticking up for her. ”I’m not sorry actually cause you’re a terrible person,” he begins. Fired up, Terry tries to match Beth’s fury, but ending up a dorkier imitation “I don’t want to kick your ass here in front of everybody. Yeah, that’s right. I’ve got levels, motherf**ker. This elevator goes all the way f**king down, you f**king pr**k!” Romano gives Terry a boyish quality of trying to be a white knight even when he doesn’t possess the skills to do it. The manner of the gesture, rather than the gesture itself, rings true.

As Kumail reconciles his feelings for Emily and how to pursue them, Terry tasks himself by giving empty platitudes. Rather than succeed, Terry turns even this into a punchline. Terry has his own hangups with his relationship that prevent him from being the person qualified to dole out advice. Yet, in the end, he knows a thing or two about how to compromise and show love. His character’s journey back into the graces of his family is never overwrought. Instead, Romano finds the sweetness in every gesture.

Ray Romano has been best known for his successful CBS sitcom “Everbody Loves Raymond.” While he succeeds at the comedic elements of the film, his dramatic work equally impresses. Romano conveys an everyman ease that is welcome and enriching. There’s a desire to do good that manifests itself in each relationship he shares with his other actors. He does what good actors do, he makes everyone better.

Who do you predict will get into Best Supporting Actor? Share with us in the comments below.




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Written by Christopher James

Christopher James has been an Oscar obsessive ever since watching his first ceremony at age 5 when "Titanic" won Best Picture. He is a recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University with degrees in Screenwriting for Film and Television and Marketing. Christopher currently works in media strategy and planning at Liquid Advertising, based out of Los Angeles, CA. You can find Christopher running on the sunny beach, brunching at trendy restaurants or mostly just sitting in a dark room watching movies and TV in sweatpants. Follow me on Twitter @cwj92movieman


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