Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

We have tackled Actress, Actor, and Supporting Actress, so to finish off the quartet we will now head into Best Supporting Actor predictions.  Best Supporting Actor may be the hardest of the categories to predict this far in advance because frequently these nominations happen for films that aren't necessarily in the Best Picture race, (though historically these were most frequently Best Picture nominees, if a cursory look at former nominees are any indication), and so this is probably the prediction list most likely to change in the coming months.

The best way to start off in the Supporting Actor race is to think like a Republican, and find all of the older white men with major films out this year.  This category tends to be the most homogenous of the four in terms of its demographics, and so the best place to start is probably Robert Duvall in The Judge.  As we recently wrote about, Duvall is one of the most enduring stars with Oscar, but hasn't been nominated in sixteen years despite extremely strong reviews four years ago for Get Low (which I'm told is good but I didn't see because it missed the OVP-is this something I should be renting?).  I suspect that a father/son drama with Oscar nominee Robert Downey, Jr. would get him some attention.  Adding to the old white man cache would be Tom Wilkinson in Selma, where he'll do that greatest of Oscar tricks (play a famous real-life figure, in this case former President Lyndon Johnson), and I suspect he will probably be back (doesn't it feel weird that he is a recent two-time nominee that no one ever seems to talk about?).  Finally, J.K. Simmons could fill the frequent slot of character-actor-we-are-finally-acknowledging, as his performance in Whiplash seems to be both co-lead and scene-stealing, and I suspect Oscar will want to give him a citation in the same way they have other major famous faces (but not necessarily famous names).  Other older white dudes that could be in the conversation (though aren't as prevalent as these three) include Albert Brooks in A Most Violent Year (though if he couldn't score for Drive...), John Goodman in The Gambler (what is the deal with this movie?-for a film in December starring Mark Wahlberg and Jessica Lange it sure is under-performing, buzz-wise), and Tim Roth as Gov. George Wallace in Selma (though this category doesn't double-up as often in a film as Supporting Actress does).

Moving a bit out of the senior citizen bracket, probably your safest bet for a nomination would be Edward Norton in Birdman, where he appears to have a significant part and is the sort of actor Oscar has been itching to welcome back after his quick one-two punch in the 90's followed by a whole lack of loving from the Academy (AMPAS is a fickle mistress).  Josh Brolin got a nomination for Milk in 2008 but has been working consistently since without any other nominations-if he's a particular stand-out in Inherent Vice I suspect we may see him in this race again.  I'm not sure what it says about Ethan Hawke and the quality of this race versus Supporting Actress, but despite his equally good performance he doesn't seem to have the same sort of momentum as Patricia Arquette does for Boyhood.  Still, if the film does well with precursors expect to see his name at least thrown around a bit after a trio of past nominations.  Dominic West in Pride and Paul Jesson in Mr. Turner are both names that could factor into a race like this if the films strike, but the former has almost no buzz (is it it even going wide by art house standards?) and the latter is a Mike Leigh film, and Leigh is considerably better at getting women attention than men.  And there's always the possibility that someone like Johnny Depp makes it for Into the Woods, though that show usually seems to be about the ladies in terms of awards (and I suspect that recently on-a-roll James Corden would be the standout if there was going to be one).

There are of course "younger" potential nominees in this category as well, the most important being Logan Lerman in Fury.  Lerman was sensational (and Oscar-worthy) two years ago in Perks of Being a Wallflower, but way too young and cute to be nominated in lead.  He's probably younger and sexier than you'd expect for a male category either way, but supporting is a better bet, particularly when working opposite Brad Pitt (Pitt is really good at bringing out his costars, just ask Oscar-nominated Geena Davis, Casey Affleck, and Jonah Hill).  Domhnall Gleeson has a significant role in Unbroken and has been on the edges of stardom in a way his father frequently finds himself (anyone think it's odd that Brendan cannot seem to get any buzz for the well-received Calvary?).  And then there's the truly excellent question regarding Foxcatcher-how do they market Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo in this film (I've heard marvelous things in particular about the former)?  If they put them both as supporting, does Tatum overshadow Ruffalo?  Or do they market Tatum in lead, giving Ruffalo a strong chance at a nomination but hurting Tatum?  That's perhaps the biggest question of this Oscar season, campaign-wise, in my opinion.

My Predictions: I am guessing Simmons, Norton, Lerman, Duvall, and Wilkinson are at the top of the list at this point.  Norton seems the most likely to be nominated, Lerman seems the least just because of his age.  I'm intrigued by a couple of options on this list, though, and could see a few names popping up later in the year, particularly Goodman and the Foxcatcher lads.

Is There a Winner?: Like I said, Lerman is way too young to win here, I doubt that Wilkinson wins for playing a president so soon after Daniel Day-Lewis did, and I don't think that Norton will take it for what looks like a sidekick role.  Simmons or Duvall, on the other hand, have the vibe of a winner.  Simmons has been working in Hollywood for eons and is well-respected; plus, this is a role where he's set to dominate in a BIG way (have you seen the trailer?).  Duvall, on the other hand, has entered the last phase of his career (may it hopefully be extremely long), and has only won one Oscar while many of his peers (de Niro, Hoffman, and Nicholson) all have more than one.  I think that there may be a push to let him join that list (and hopefully get Al Pacino back into some good movies, damn it, to seal the quintet).

And there we have finished up the actors-we'll do the final September predictions (Best Picture!) this weekend, but before we close out our too-early guesses, what are your thoughts on this race?  Do you think I have the five guys pegged, or should I have picked another name?  Who am I missing on this list that may strike?  And most importantly, which of these performances are you most looking forward to? Share in the comments!

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