Editor’s note: This is part of a 32-part series dissecting the 85th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every day leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars. To read the other posts regarding this event, please click here. Thank you, and enjoy!
Andrew of Two Tickets For…
Andrew: Hello dear readers! Maybe some of you are familiar with the movie blog my wife Sarah and I write, Two Tickets For… (www.twoticketsfor.com), but I’m sure most of you are not. Normally Sarah and I write reviews and articles in a conversational, back-and-forth format but for this particular breakdown of the Best Supporting Actor category in the 85th Annual Academy Awards, we decided to do it separately because she had a gangbusters idea to write letters to each of the nominees, and she knocked it out of the park.
That left me to my own devices on how to break down what is without a doubt the most competitive of the four acting categories. I mean, c’mon – every single gentleman in this category has already won an Oscar (a first, I believe) and they all had fantastic performances. There’s not a dud in the joint.
So I figured the best way to break down the category was for me to spell out exactly why I think each nominee COULD win the award, as well as breaking down which nominees WON’T win, and of course eventually who I think WILL win the award and why. So let’s get to it, shall we?
PHILLIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN
Why He Could Win: Phillip Seymour Hoffman gave what I personally feel was one of the best performances not only of the year, but of his career. As Lancaster Dodd, the enigmatic leader of The Cause, he toed the line between being a snake charmer and being the snake himself. There are three particular scenes for which he single-handedly could have been nominated for the award for – the processing scene, the scene where he’s openly challenged, and the final scene he and Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell share in England. He’s equal parts electrifying, charming, scary and Hoffman just has a presence about him that you’d be hard-pressed to argue with him winning the award any other year.
Why He Won’t Win: Because of the four actors nominated in this category, Hoffman’s movie made the least amount of money at the box office and made the smallest splash on the scene. He’s great in it, but compared to the other heavyweights in the category, his performance is but a blip on the radar.
Why He Could Win: Alan Arkin’s portrayal of fictional Hollywood producer Lester Siegel was a riot, which isn’t to be unexpected from Arkin. Hell, he has the best line in the entire movie and one of the most memorable of the year, but it’s one I probably can’t write here. You know which one it is. The man won his only Oscar for playing a relatively similar grouch in Little Miss Sunshine, so you know the voters like his style. Then there’s the whole fact that his hilarious portrayal of a movie producer helps glorify the occupation, and when you consider that the Academy is comprised of people in the business that Arkin glorifies, you can’t be surprised if he gets a push just from that.
Why He Won’t: Yes, Arkin is hilarious, and yes, I stand by my belief that he’ll get a certain amount of votes purely because he gloriously played a movie producer in a film that’s been getting all the love in the world this award season. But he won’t win because, simply, there are better performances this year, and as I mentioned earlier he pretty much won his Oscar in 2007 for playing a similar character.
Why He Could Win: The primary reason I think Christoph can win is because he absolutely rocks it as Dr. King Schultz. Quentin Tarantino wrote the role specifically for him and it’s truly a match made in heaven. Waltz has a fantastic delivery, he does a great job in balancing his character between being a man who has no problem killing people for a living and a man who reels at barbarianism of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie. But in general, he’s hilarious, he has perfect delivery and the Academy certain loves him. Oh, and he won the Golden Globe which doesn’t hurt.
Why He Won’t Win: While I’d love for Waltz to waltz away with his second consecutive Academy Award (see what I did there?), the simple fact is that the next two guys have the advantage of being Hollywood legends that played their best roles in many moons. Also, I do believe that Waltz’s recent win doesn’t help him this year, and even though he won the Golden Globe, their voting sect doesn’t necessarily translate over to the Academy.
ROBERT DE NIRO
Why He Could Win: First and foremost, he’s Robert freaking De Niro, but secondly and more importantly, his performance as Pat Solitano, Sr. in Silver Linings Playbook is his best role in decades. He’s funny, he’s scary, he’s heartbreaking…it’s just a powerhouse performance by one of the all-time greats. De Niro is one of four actors from Silver Linings Playbook to get nominated for an award to go along with the film’s Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay noms, so I think the Academy REALLY likes this film. Plus, my heart keeps trying to tell me that the Academy might award him one last time, because who knows when he’ll have a role this good again? It’s also my belief that, like last year when Meryl Streep won the Oscar after losing the SAG award to Viola Davis, De Niro could be the recipient of a similar voting outcome.
Why He Won’t Win: It bums me out to say this, but I just don’t think a resurgent performance by someone even as great as he is can top the last guy on this list. Personally I feel like De Niro’s performance was better, but all the momentum is swinging away from him. He didn’t win the Screen Actors Guild award, which would have really helped his chances at the Dolby Theatre.
TOMMY LEE JONES
Why He Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones has all the momentum going his way. He’s coming off of a Screen Actors Guild award for his role as Thaddeus Stevens, so even though I said above that I think De Niro could benefit from voters not in the acting branch voting for him, it just FEELS like Jones is going to carry it all the way into the endzone. The Academy loves them some historical movies, as well as actors playing real-life characters, and Jones will probably benefit from that along with Daniel Day-Lewis. Oh, it also doesn’t hurt that Vegas is giving him the best odds to win. They’re usually pretty good at that stuff.
Sarah of Two Tickets For…
Sarah: Greetings from the estrogen side of Two Tickets For…! It’s about time I got to write a little on my own. And to talk about five men, nonetheless! That’s right people, we’re going to talk a little bit about the Best Supporting Actor category for this year’s 85th Academy Awards – a list so competitive that it will probably be the most anticipated answer of the night. Every single nominee already has a little golden statue on the shelf in their bathroom, so they’re all old hats at this.
I felt like writing a letter to each of the nominees to let them know how I felt about their performances, so here we go.
“Dear Mr. Waltz,
You are a relatively new actor on my radar. I saw Water for Elephants and while your performance was good, it was overshadowed by the fact that R-Pats was in it. It’s not your fault, he’s just not very good. My husband has been trying to get me to watch Inglorious Bastards for a while now, but I’m just not sure I’m ready for the scalping and forehead cutting in it. BUT… Django Unchained was different. I was really looking forward to this movie, so when we sat down and the music started, I got really excited.
Django was so original and unique and you were a major part of that. Your ruthlessness yet gentle and forward-thinking bounty hunter was a twist. It wasn’t what I was expecting, and lately, that has been lacking in the movies. The chemistry that you and Jamie Foxx had on screen was also refreshing. It was a friendship but it was also a partnership in a time when relationships between Caucasians and African-Americans were frowned upon and even a crime in some towns. And it was so creative how Tarantino wrote the story to feel so modern and yet be a true historical piece.
You deserve the nomination for Best Supporting Actor and when the Academy Awards roll around, there could be a real chance for you to take home another statue.
“Dear Mr. Hoffman,
Your range as an actor never ceases to astonish me. You can be funny in one film and then creepy and brooding in another. With The Master it was a whole different ball game. You may have been the leader of The Cause but we all saw who the real power was – your wife. You did a great job of putting on a true front for a manipulative cult.
I’m not really a huge fan of your work just yet but I still think that you deserve this nomination. The chemistry between you and Joaquin Phoenix was different than anything I have ever seen. It was dependent on each other but not intentionally. Your character was totally involved in the Cause but when Phoenix comes along he shifts things, throws a wrench in your best-laid plans.
When I think of all the other actors who aren’t in this category though, I wonder if you deserve to be in this group of gentlemen. I’m not sure if it’s the way I feel about your acting or the movie itself that I disliked, but there you have it. I’m just not sure it’s your year.
“Dear Mr. De Niro
This was a totally new role for me to see you in and I was so impressed! I usually think of you as more of a gangster character or at least an incredibly strong character, but Silver Linings Playbook was totally different from the norm. You were vulnerable and complicated. You totally had us feeling sorry for you and pitying your situation. It was interesting how you interacted with the other characters. You seemed unaware of your own shortcomings but still showed embarrassment around your family. You seem to know that most of Bradley Cooper’s character’s issues came from you.
You belong in this group if for nothing else that the one scene where you and Cooper really go at each other. It was so intense and made everyone in the audience uncomfortable and a little scared. I loved you in this role and I don’t think that anyone could have done better. I’m not sure if you will be able to take home the award but nonetheless to be nominated with these other actors is an honor.
“Dear Mr. Arkin,
Your dry wit and chemistry with John Goodman is amazing. You’re a Hollywood legend and you’re another one who deserves to be in this category. Considering I don’t know you that well, I’m just going to assume that you are very similar to this character. The grumpy old man angle really fit in this period piece movie. You gave levity to an otherwise tense movie. Let’s be honest, you had the funniest line in the whole movie and the only one that everyone seems to remember. And it was an awesome movie! That’s pretty high praise for a supporting actor!
What surprises me is that John Goodman wasn’t nominated too. The two of you worked so well together that I think you should have come in a package deal. While that could be a downside, I think that this award is between you and Mr. Waltz. Good Luck!
“Dear Mr. Jones.
Ah, Lincoln. The movie that has had so many critics fawning all over it. They loved the way that Daniel Day-Lewis portrayed our 18th President. And you, as Mr. Stevens, well they just couldn’t get enough of it! Me? I thought the whole thing was as dry and boring as plain toast. You played a very honorable character, don’t get me wrong. The things that he did for the advancement of African-Americans at a time when it was thoroughly unpopular is admirable. But the way you portrayed Mr. Stevens was so bland. I’m not sure if that is what you meant to do or if that’s what the actual Mr. Stevens was like but I can’t imagine that anyone actually knows what he was like.
I think you are a good actor, but I wasn’t blown away by this performance. So I’m a little confused as to why you are in this category. Since there were only a handful of scenes where you really stand out in a movie where there are so many other actors who did just as well if not better than you. Sorry to be so harsh but there it is.
Well there you have it. All of my little notes to the nominees. I hope that you all enjoy the Oscars and come by Two Tickets For… to follow our live blogging of the show!
Nick of The Cinematic Katzenjammer
This year sees one hell of a category when it comes to the Best Supporting Actor category. All five nominees have won an Oscar before (first time in Academy Award history) and seeing one of them walk away with the statue won’t be anything new. Below are my picks and odds for each nominee.
Alan Arkin- Argo
This nomination is purely “filler”. Seeing that Argo was snubbed in the Best Director category, one can assume this nomination was given to have Argo carry a little bit more weight in the awards. Arkin has no chance of winning (has won nothing building up to the event) and his nomination is purely political. Plus, as much as I love the guy, playing himself won’t win him a second statue.
Odds of Winning: 0%
Robert De Niro- Silver Linings Playbook
Another nomination that’s more meaningful in it’s actuality as opposed to the weight of De Niro’s performance, this one’s a throwaway as well. I appreciate that The Academy is praising De Niro for returning to form (something he’s been out of for years) but they’re not going to give him the award. This nomination, along with Jackie Weaver’s for the same film (Best Supporting Actress) both feel a bit over-the-top, as The Academy seems to be wanting to give a lot of love to Silver Linings Playbook. Sorry, Bobby, you’re not going to win.
Chance of Winning: 5%
Philip Seymour Hoffman- The Master
Perhaps the most deserving of the list, Hoffman gave a tour de force in The Master, a film that only received some love from the Academy in the acting categories. However, I don’t think that Hoffman has the legs or the politics about him to win the award again (at least this year) and he’ll be watching someone else take the Oscar home. His only chance of winning is if these last two nominations split the vote…
Chance of Winning: 15%
Tommy Lee Jones- Lincoln
While I argued that Arkin was playing himself in Argo, the same could be said about Jones in Lincoln. What differentiates the two is that Jones actually has a good chunk of screen time and he hasn’t won the award in quite some time. If Lincoln doesn’t get the love for other categories (Director, Best Picture, etc), expect The Academy to give Jones the award.
Chance of Winning: 30%
Christoph Waltz- Django Unchained
Django is a film that had half a dozen performances worthy of filling this category, and yet Waltz secured the nomination. It’s hard to argue against Waltz, as he’s been picking up most of the pre-Oscars awards, but it’s certainly his category to lose. Waltz will win for Django as a whole, but I do believe his performance alone is worthy of the award.
Chance of Winning: 60%