Stephen Henderson, Fences
Likewise, stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are shoo-ins for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress nods (and, in at least the latter case, a win), but relatively little praise has been accorded to the generous actor who shares so many of their scenes. Henderson – primarily known a stage performer, though his film resumé also includes a small role in this year’s Manchester by the Sea – is marvelous in the role of Washington’s best buddy, work compatriot, and confidant Jim Bono. He’s a vital component in getting to know Washington’s Troy, chuckling and chiming in during the introductory scenes (“You got more stories than the devil got sinners”); watch how he knows when to laugh, and knows when to leave. But Henderson really shines in the quiet scene about midway through, when he voices his genuine concerns about Troy and “that Tallahassee gal.” It’s the best kind of supporting performance, wholly unassuming yet undeniably present.