Awards season is upon us again, and as the various Oscar-bait titles jockey for position, it is going to be inevitable that a few of the year's choicest films and performances will get shoved aside in the fray. It's always worth having a little faith, however, that the best of the dark horses will emerge with some recognition, and among this year's most deserving is the extraordinary starring turn from Patton Oswalt in Big Fan. As crafted by writer-director Robert D. Siegel — who also penned last year's major awards contender, The WrestlerBig Fan is an emotionally charged, sometimes harrowing, ceaselessly fascinating look at the fallout following a rabid football fan's violent encounter with a star player. Oswalt is nothing short of mesmerizing as he steps back from his razor-sharp standup persona and delivers a powerful portrayal of a man who gets too close to the world he idolizes, suddenly finding himself the focus of the media spotlight, at odds with his family and questioning every aspect of the passionate fandom that has dominated his life. In the canon of well-known funnymen pulling the rug out from under us and delivering a sucker punch straight at the gut, Oswalt is very near the top in one of the best performances of the year, which will unspool in a double feature with The Wrestler at the New Bev, along with a Q&A with Oswalt between films.

Wed., Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m., 2009

LA Weekly