Sunday, January 11, 2015

Predictions for the Oscars' Potential Best Supporting Actor Category

J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
With the Oscar nominations only one week away, now seems like a good time to take into account the various categories and share personal thoughts on what stands a chance and what will likely not make the cut. The following is a rundown of the performers who I feel will most likely make it to the final five in the Best Supporting Actor race and who may be considered a potential threat for the category. Let me state that this isn't a prediction of who will win, simply who will get the nomination.

" * " indicates have not seen

Front Runners
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash

The performance may seem like a fluke, but the hard-nosed orchestra teacher has a lot of charm in his menace thanks to J.K. Simmons' presence. Yes, it is a very showy performance and one that plays well with Oscar voters. However, there's so much more going on in the performance that makes it more endearing. He is scary, but in a way that is tangible and real, lacking intent to be brutish. He just wants you to be the best you. That alone may make a strong case for why he is a shoe in for this category.

Edward Nortion - Birdman

The film has been on a nonstop roll for most of awards season. While a lot of the focus is on Michael Keaton, there is a thankful amount on the actual highlights of the film. Along with Emma Stone, the supporting cast is the real charm of the movie and adds a personality to the film. Norton is especially solid as a cocky actor whose swagger is able to get him out of any situation while serving as the comedic backbone of the film. He is an easy lock simply because of this.

Ethan Hawke - Boyhood

The film that's neck and neck with Birdman is Boyhood, which has gotten acclaim for everyone but the lead during awards season. With Ethan Hawke playing the father figure, he adds a sense of warmth and humor in ways that add an endearing authenticity to the film. True, he isn't as memorable as Patricia Arquette, but that could just be because of what's asked of him. He is somewhat lazy and a little forgetful. However, his heart is in the right place and the performance as a result is something to be admired.

Likely Entries
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher

Another really good movie a lot of great performances. However, I still feel like Channing Tatum is getting overlooked in favor of the less interesting Mark Ruffalo performance. It isn't that he is bad. Maybe his physical performance adds a certain charm to his execution, but I don't come away as labeling him as a favorite aspect of the film. It could just be that his role is the most sympathetic of the bunch. Nonetheless, he has been a favorite in this race, so it is likely that he will make the cut.

Robert Duvall - The Judge*

What is weird is how much this has been lobbied as Oscar bait since its existence. The film has bombed in almost every other major way. However, there is something about Robert Duvall that keeps bringing voters back. He has shown up in almost every Best Supporting Actor race and is likely to end up in the final race. I don't necessarily know if this is earned, but considering the film's reputation, I cannot quite see while. Still, the Academy likes recognizing the older folks, so why not give him a spot. After all, they did it for Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook, and that role wasn't at all special.

Tom Wilkinson - Selma

Much like what I said earlier about Carmen Ejogo, I feel like Selma is bound to be something of an upset in some ways. I don't have as much faith with Tom Wilkinson, though he does turn in a rather memorable performance that has sparked some controversy. This may help his profile and get him that nomination. Speaking as Robert Duvall is another likely contender, this isn't too far fetched, though I would like to see this one over that. It is ferocious and interesting while also getting into one pocket of the Oscars' heart: playing an actual person.

Miyavi - Unbroken

Angelina Jolie's war epic has failed to garner a lot of attention from almost every awards ceremony in its path. However, you can always count on Oscars to nominate performances that are full of passion and memorable physicality. While I cannot claim to like the latter half of Unbroken, Miyavi does a solid job as a POW guard who asks too much of his prisoners. He is memorably cruel and thus can serve as the creepy supporting actor shoe-in that we have been overlooking.

Christoph Waltz - Big Eyes

While Big Eyes hasn't ignited awards season as much as anyone would care to think of, there's no denying that Christoph Waltz has slowly become an Oscar favorite. Having already won two statues, he is surprisingly likely candidate for being an upset, if just on his bias. While this plays as one of his campier and lesser performances, he still manages to pack his scenes with charm and menace in ways that are showy and thus appeal to Oscars' standards for awards. It may seem like a long shot, but so did him getting nominated and subsequently winning for Django Unchained

Josh Brolin - Inherent Vice

Yes, Inherent Vice is practically going to be ignored from the Oscars. However, if we're to hold any optimism, Josh Brolin would be a decent choice for this category. Along with being one of the goofier characters with a lot of memorable blurring of masculinity and comedy, he is just an overall great performer in the movie. I don't expect him to do much nor do I expect him to make the top five, but he is definitely better than we're giving him credit for. At least I think so.

Personal Favorites Not Likely to Make It
Tony Revolori - The Grand Budapest Hotel

Technically he is more of a long shot, but considering that Ralph Fiennes is the more acclaimed of the film's long shots, I put no stock in him or any other actor to stand a chance. Still, he turns in a great underrated performance that manages to play like some strange straight man off of Fienne's comedic poet. I can only hope that we give him more recognition sometime in the future.

Riz Ahmed - Nightcrawler

Again, another overshadowing from the bigger name in the lead role. Still, in a film that has surprisingly picked up way more traction than anyone expected, he is great as Jake Gyllenhaal's assistant. He once again plays as a straight man to his kooky obsession and ends up enhancing the film with his odd, nuanced performance. 

Alec Baldwin - Still Alice

At this point, it is best just to assume that this shut outs are a big key to the film's success. While not as prominent as Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin does a great job in accompany Julianne Moore in her performance dealing with Alzheimer's disease. It may not be showy enough to earn him enough recognition, but I do feel like there's a lot that has gone unappreciated about the film over awards season. Next to the film (hopefully) getting a Best Picture nomination, recognition to the supporting players is something that I hope will happen as well.

Randall Park - The Interview

Notably, it is too much of a comedy to stand any chance for a nomination. It is also too crass. Also, the controversy has botched any long shot chances of it being anything of merit. Still, the performance is surprisingly subversive and thus interesting in ways that a comedy about killing Kim Jong-Un didn't likely seem to be from the outset. A lot of it is thanks to Randall Park, who should deserve more credit for his performance that unfortunately sparked a lot of controversy.

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