Monday, February 18, 2013

Best Supporting Actor Standoff

This might be the surest acting category to offer a surprise. Many pundits are sticking with Robert De Niro, but Christoph Waltz seems to be his chief rival. Though I would not be surprised to see Tommy Lee Jones walk away with the trophy, considering that his performance in Lincoln was the most bearable part of the film that did not feature Daniel Day-Lewis.

Interestingly, this category features five actors who have all won Academy Awards.

Here are my thoughts in chronological order:

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd
The Master
First Viewing: September
Not a lot can be said about Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is a phenomenal actor and he is uniquely capable of being loathing and tender at the same time. His is outclassed in The Master by Joaquin Phoenix, but he nonetheless offers a tremendous performance. As Lancaster Dodd, the leader of a philosophical movement (likened to Scientology), he is as vibrant as ever. Read my review here

Alan Arkin as Lester Siegel
First Viewing: October
Argo is not a film that I would have predicted to find any nominations in the acting categories. It is a decent film (and a Best Picture winner?), but it is swayed by director Ben Affleck's rather conceited performance. Alan Arkin deservedly won his Best Supporting Actor award in 2006 when Eddie Murphy, the apparent frontunner, was steamrolled by the just-released Norbert. Arkin plays a Hollywood producer who becomes involved in the scheme to rescue Americans in Iran. He offers perhaps the funniest dialogue in the film. Read m review here

Robert De Niro as Pat Solitano Sr.
Silver Linings Playbook
First Viewing: November
It has been a long time since Robert De Niro was in a great film. I would have to go back at least a decade. Silver Linings Playbook is De Niro's seventh Oscar nomination (with wins in 1974 for The Godfather, Part II and in 1980 for Raging Bull). It has been twenty-one years since his last nomination (for Cape Fear). His performance as Pat Solitano, Sr. is just as grating as Bradley Cooper's. Maybe I am foolish for thinking they are playing too over-the-top. Silver Linings Playbook is the first film since Million Dollar Baby in 2004 to be nominated for the Big Five: all four acting categories and Best Picture. Maybe De Niro will win, but I will not be championing him. Read my review here

Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens
First Viewing: November
Lincoln may be the story of Abraham Lincoln and the film may be ruled by Daniel Day-Lewis, but Jones' Thaddeus Stevens is the most likable and empathetic character in the film. He is truly a talented actor who seems to be getting better with age. He is a potential spoiler for the award if voters can forget Hope Springs, even if it was a good performance. Thaddeus Stevens was the Radical Republican Congressional leader whose abolitionist desires were integral to Lincoln's success. Read my review here.

 Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz
Django Unchained
First Viewing: December
Christoph Waltz played spoiler at the Golden Globes when he won the Best Supporting Actor award (which was won by Tommy Lee Jones at the SAG Awards), but he might be the favourite now since winning the BAFTA. Waltz rose to fame in 2009 after winning the Oscar for his role in Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds. In Django Unchained he plays Dr. King Schultz, a German-born bounty hunter in 1860s Texas who plots to help a slave rescue his wife from a wealthy plantation owner. This role gives Waltz much more opportunity to play for laughs. He sinks his teeth into a delicious role with delicious dialogue from Tarantino. Read my review here

Will Win: This is by far the hardest acting category to predict, I think that both Tommy Lee Jones and Robert De Niro will split some votes to allow for Christoph Waltz to win for the second time in four years. If Daniel Day-Lewis can do it, so can Waltz!

Should Win: Waltz is definitely my favourite performance of the group, but Tommy Lee Jones might be the most deserving. 

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