Hello? 911? I’d like to report a crime: A scene has been stolen, and I suspect Alan Alda is to blame. Or maybe Adam Driver. Florence Pugh is a suspect, too. What’s that, you say? This has been happening a lot lately? Yes, I suppose it has. Scene-stealing is running rampant in Hollywood as supporting actors — many of them stars in their own right — turn up in key moments and sweep the audience’s attention away from everyone else. Not like those fellows Al Pacino and Brad Pitt, of course, as they were practically handed the keys to their respective star-studded vehicles. We’re talking the likes of Billie Lourd in “Booksmart,” who derails the heroines’ night in the best possible way, or Alda, playing the compassionate lawyer among a sea of sharks in “Marriage Story.” Here’s a 10 most-wanted list of scene-stealers.
1. Alan Alda, “Marriage Story”
The moments of levity peppered throughout this romance are a welcome addition to the film, given its primary focus on the grueling dissolution of the relationship between Charlie (Driver) and Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson). A few such moments arrive with the introduction of divorce attorney Bert Spitz (Alda), who brings to his performance the warmth and charming sense of humor that contribute to his universal appeal in real life.
2. Julia Butters, “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”
If you’ve seen even the trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s period piece, you’re probably familiar with the scene in which a tween actress (Butters) tells jaded TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) that what he just did was the best acting she’s ever seen in her whole life. It’s amazing Butters is able to hold her own in the scenes she shares with DiCaprio. She is one of the most promising child actors to emerge in recent years.
3. Cho Yeo Jeong, “Parasite”
This South Korean import is a darkly humorous drama about class division, which suggests it doesn’t reflect too kindly upon the upper class. That’s largely true, except perhaps when it comes to Park Yeon-kyo (Cho), the kind matriarch of a wealthy household infiltrated by a struggling family that is able to take advantage of Park’s naiveté, which Cho plays as a sympathetic quality that eventually befalls her. The actress adds emotional depth and a lingering sense of loneliness to a character who could have been reduced to a rich businessman’s air-headed wife.
4. Adam Driver, “The Dead Don’t Die”
Although Driver has been getting kudos for starring in “Marriage Story,” we’d be remiss to skip over his role in this horror-comedy. From the act of stuffing his massive body into a tiny Smart car to his police officer character’s deadpan insistence that zombies are responsible for the topsy-turviness of their small town, it’s hard to look away from the man who has been commanding the screen since “Girls.”
5. Billy Eichner, “The Lion King”
As Timon in Jon Favreau’s remake of this modern-day classic, the comedian famous for frenetically yelling lends that booming voice to a teeny meerkat who, along with his best mate Pumbaa (the warthog voiced by Seth Rogen), livens up the film. Whereas other characters are mere copies of their 1994 counterparts, Eichner’s Timon feels wholly original, in large part because of the lines he and Rogen improvised.
6. Billie Lourd, “Booksmart”
Given that she grew up with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds as her mother and grandmother, respectively, it’s fair to say showbiz is in her genes. But the young actress also is a talent in her own right, as evidenced by her portrayal of spacey teenager Gigi. The film is filled with sharply written takes on high school archetypes, and Gigi is no exception, as that magical unicorn of a party girl who seems to be everywhere, all the time. Lourd is such a force of nature that screenwriter Katie Silberman wrote the character into more scenes.
7. Florence Pugh, “Little Women”
The English actress wowed critics with her performance in 2016’s “Lady Macbeth” and officially broke out over the summer as the lead in “Midsommar.” But most remarkable is how she humanizes one of literature’s most-hated characters, Amy March, in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of this beloved novel. Bolstered by Gerwig’s more sympathetic take on the character, Pugh approaches Amy with uncompromising honesty. She captures the brashness of a jealous younger sister in one scene and, in another, the practical wisdom of a long-overlooked young woman.
8. Keanu Reeves, “Always Be My Maybe”
It’s likely that the stars and screenwriters of this rom-com, Ali Wong and Randall Park, knew that Reeves would steal their thunder by popping up to play a parody of himself, but who could have resisted such a casting opportunity? The movie-Reeves is an obnoxious braggart dating celebrity chef Sasha (Wong), who winds up making Marcus (Park) incredibly jealous. The movie character is quite a departure from the real Reeves’ gracious self, perhaps adding to the enjoyment viewers got.
9. Archie Yates, “Jojo Rabbit”
Regardless of how you feel about this satire, which centers on a Hitler youth (Roman Griffin Davis) who grapples with his blind nationalism after befriending the Jewish teenager his mother helps hide in their attic, it’s hard to deny the perfect casting of Jojo’s best friend, Yorki (Archie Yates). He pops in only every once in a while, but each time he is an adorable reminder of the innocence that makes children like Jojo and Yorki so impressionable (and that, by contrast, makes most of the adults in their lives so horrifying).
10. Zhao Shuzhen, “The Farewell”
In this semi-autobiographical film from director Lulu Wang, an American woman named Billi (Awkwafina) and her family travel to China to say goodbye to Billi’s terminally ill grandmother, Nai Nai (Zhao), who remains in the dark about her cancer diagnosis. Given that she’s been acting for more than 60 years, it’s no wonder Zhao masterfully deploys the ever-so-slightly deprecating sense of humor typical of grandmothers. Viewers wind up loving Nai Nai almost as much as Billi does.