The Two-Minute Oscars were created more than a decade ago for Interview magazine to celebrate the great but fleeting performance: full rounded characters who live in our memories well after their brief time on-screen. These parts may not even be named, or have a full page of dialogue, but because of the actors' commitment, they give their films an extra sense of proportion. A recent example would be the great Lois Smith, keeper of a dangerous greenhouse in 2002's Minority Report. Here are this year's best, ranked in no particular order:
1. Roberta Maxwell as Jack Twist's deeply understanding mother, at the end of Brokeback Mountain. When the mourning Ennis visits Jack's room, you know who has maintained it, in one of the few gestures of love tolerated under his father's flinty, queer-hating meanness.
2. Graham Greene as the courtly romantic rancher, Calvin Manygoats, in Transamerica (now delayed in Seattle until Jan. 20), struck mightily by trannie Felicity Huffman, although possibly not the man to learn her whole story . . . quite yet.
3. Winsome Brown, a red-haired lamppost of a beauty in Heights, who livens up Glenn Close's Manhattan birthday gala, demonstrating that anything sounds funny when spoken with an Aussie accent.
4. Mario Schiano as the sage professor of medicine in The Best of Youth, who warns new graduate Nicola to take his talent and go far away from Italy, "A dying country, run by dinosaurs," accurately forecasting Italy's immediate future while also recognizing that he himself is one of that breed.
5. Ralph Fiennes, absolutely terrifying and completely otherworldly as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, whose towering power comes from acting chops, not makeup—or even the absence of a nose.
6. Allie Mickelson as Laura Kinney, the poised, quiet Kansas high-school girl who finds her best friend's body as Capote opens. Later, when Capote and Harper Lee interview her, Laura's empathy with his lifelong "outsider" status makes her entrust them with slain Nancy Clutter's own diary.
7. Omar Metwally, the Palestinian who meets Eric Bana's Israeli assassin in a stairwell in Munich, bringing so much young energy and passion to what is essentially a political treatise that you miss him when he's cut down, virtually seconds later.
8. Rachel Nichols, the hot, flashy teenage baby sitter from this year's The Amity-ville Horror remake, who takes particular glee in telling the new occupants' children about the house's gruesome murder history, only to run afoul of something so terrifying moments later that she becomes a literal ambulance case.
9. Walid Afkir, the Algerian son from Caché (opening here Jan. 20) whose confrontation scene with beleaguered TV intellectual Daniel Auteuil is knife-edged perfection: It can be taken either as the fury of an innocent man or as a barely disguised threat.
10. Dallas Roberts as Sam Phillips in Walk the Line, who won't listen to Johnny Cash's wan imitation gospel and instead, single-handedly goads him until "Folsom Prison Blues," when the true Cash sound comes into being, right there in the studio.