The Very Best Of

Best actor from every EIHL city (Part I)

Best TV/movie actor from every Elite Ice Hockey League city (Part I)
When he played Philip Jennings, Matthew Rhys was a Welshman pretending to be a Russian pretending to be an American. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for CinemaCon)

The BAFTAs can blur barriers as big as an ocean. So can any major American award show when British imports make more than a splash on this country’s pop-culture scene.

With such crossover at their celebrations of excellence, TV and movies arguably epitomize the United States and United Kingdom’s kinship. On that note, we are crossing the Atlantic to acknowledge some of Briton’s contemporary acting gifts, Pucks and Rec style.

From May 2017 through April 2018, we virtually toured North America, selecting a hockey market’s top acting product. We scouted every NCAA Division I hockey school and every city in the continent’s professional, major junior and top-tier Junior A leagues.

For the next two weeks, we are bringing this special edition back via the Elite Ice Hockey League. In 2018-19, the top U.K. circuit will field 11 teams. The majority represent English cities while the other five are scattered across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

This week’s installment will cover the three Scottish markets plus Belfast and Cardiff before England takes the spotlight next week. All biographical and award information are according to the Internet Movie Database.

Belfast: Kenneth Branagh
The multitalented Branagh bears more hardware than what he has earned before the camera. Of his six Oscar nominations, one was explicitly for directing, another for screenwriting. His first of four BAFTA triumphs was for directing 1989’s Henry V.

With that said, he pulled double duty in that film, and was also nominated for his acting part. He later added a 2010 BAFTA TV prize to his trophy case for his performance on Wallander.

Back in America, Branagh won an Emmy in 2001, and has earned three nominations since. In 2012, he was up for a Golden Globe, BAFTA and Oscar as a supporting player in My Week with Marilyn. Those nods brought his resume up to four Golden Globe, five Academy and eight BAFTA candidacies.

His more recent work has been less decorated, minus a 2018 AARP nomination. But Branagh keeps getting calls for prominent projects. Last year’s releases consisted of Dunkirk and Murder on the Orient Express.

Cardiff: Matthew Rhys
Amidst his five-year run as Philip Jennings on The Americans, Rhys took time for a one-off spot on HBO’s Girls. That lone 2017 episode joined his full-time gig to yield a pair of Primetime Emmy nods.

In all, Rhys has been up for four Emmys, including one later this month. Through The Americans, he has cultivated consideration for repeat Gold Derby and Critics’ Choice and one Golden Globe Award.

And those are just his stateside small-screen accomplishments. Back home, he appeared on the best-actor ballot at the 2009 Welsh edition of the BAFTAs. Most recently, he was part of the ensemble from The Post that was up for a shared OFTA Film Award.

Dundee: Brian Cox
Though overshadowed by Gary Oldman’s Darkest Hour, Cox gave his own well-received portrayal of the revered prime minister in 2017’s Churchill. Rotten Tomatoes singled out the title player’s “sterling work” as the saving grace in an otherwise disappointing biopic.

The 72-year-old Cox has had more decisive success playing other World War II figures. He won an Emmy and was nominated for a Golden Globe after portraying Hermann Goring in the 2000 miniseries, Nuremberg.

A year later, Cox was up for another Emmy after a guest appearance on Frasier. More recently, he has twice triumphed at the Scottish edition of the BAFTAs. The guild recognized him for outstanding achievement in 2004, then as 2008’s best film actor.

He nearly won a third Scottish BAFTA for 2016’s The Carer, and he is not slowing down. As of this writing, seven projects are in post-production. One more is filming ahead of a 2019 release date

Fife: Shirley Henderson
Deriving their dateline from an entire council area, the Fife Flyers are based in Kirkcaldy. That town’s entertainment imprint is all but restricted to Rosann Ferrier, a late-bloomer with four completed or pending acting credits.

With that in mind, this unofficial honor goes to a two-time Scottish BAFTA winner. Henderson triumphed on her first bid as the protagonist in 2005’s Frozen. (Far from the American animated flick, that movie followed Henderson’s character’s daring quest to solve her sister’s disappearance.)

In 2014, Henderson improved to 2-for-2 in her county’s BAFTAs, collecting a TV laurel for her part on Southcliffe. The same project earned her consideration at Britain’s main awards.

On this continent, Henderson was nominated for a 2018 Canadian Screen Award for another lead part in Never Steady, Never Still.

Glasgow: Kelly Macdonald
Macdonald’s performance as Margaret Schroeder on Boardwalk Empire drew back-to-back nominations at the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Awards. The role also gained consideration at the Emmys, which previously crowned her outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or movie.

Her victorious part in 2005’s The Girl in the Café was Macdonald’s first of two decorated film projects in three years. She landed her first BAFTA nod for 2007’s No Country for Old Men.

More recently, she showed up on the Annie and BTVA ballots for voicing protagonist Princess Merida in 2012’s Brave. And last year, she earned another supporting actress nomination from the British Independent Film Awards for Goodbye Christopher Robin.

Al Daniel

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