Oscar Circuit: Best Supporting Actor

oscars-best-supporting-actors-nomsOur annual look at the individual Oscar categories begins.  If you miss a piece, click on the tag titled Oscar Circuit 2015.  You can also see the official Oscar Predictions page for Best Supporting Actor.

AND THE NOMINEES ARE

Robert DuvallThe Judge
Oscar Scene: “You’re standing in one of the last great cathedrals in this country, built on the premise that you and you alone are responsible for the consequences of your actions. Do you have anything else to say for yourself?”

Ethan HawkeBoyhood
Oscar Scene: “You don’t want the bumpers, life doesn’t give you bumpers.”

Edward NortonBirdman
Oscar Scene: “Of course I’m drunk! I’m supposed to be drunk! This is Carver, man! The guy lost a piece of liver every time he wrote a page! If I’m supposed to drink gin then bring me fuckin gin! I mean, you fucked the time period! You took all the good lines for yourself!”

Mark RuffaloFoxcatcher
Oscar Scene: “Mark, what’s…what’s he get out of all this?”

J.K. SimmonsWhiplash
Oscar Scene: “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.”

There is perhaps no category as locked up this year as Best Supporting Actor is. Very few people are anything but fully confident about their pick here, as one of the nominee is running away with the prize. It’s also noteworthy for featuring only one nominee who is being honored for the first time. Thought to be at least potentially a three horse race early on, Best Supporting Actor has had all the suspense removed as the soon to be winner has dominated the precursor season, much like the year Christopher Plummer won for Beginners, if you want a comparable scenario. Now, lets dive in and take a look at the nominees, shall we?

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First I have a bit of history for all of you. The last dozen winners in this category have been Jared Leto (for Dallas Buyers Club), Christoph Waltz (for Django Unchained), the aforementioned Plummer (for Beginners), Christian Bale (for The Fighter), Waltz again (for Inglourious Basterds), Heath Ledger (for The Dark Knight), Javier Bardem (for No Country for Old Men), Alan Arkin (for Little Miss Sunshine), George Clooney (for Syriana), Morgan Freeman (for Million Dollar Baby), Tim Robbins (for Mystic River), and Chris Cooper (for Adaptation). This category tends to reward overdue veterans more so than any other one, and as you can see Academy members will certainly have that option this time around. 

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robert-duvall-in-the-judge-movie-4Robert Duvall is our elder statesmen of the group and the first man up here, nominated for his work in The Judge. He’s the only previous winner of the group, winning Best Actor in 1983 for Tender Mercies. His citation here is nod number seven, as his previous noms have been for Apocalypse Now, A Civil Action, and The Godfather in Best Supporting Actor, plus The Apostle and The Great Santini in Best Actor. He’s clearly in the fifth spot here, with a win pretty much out of the question. This seems like voters looking for another chance to tap Duvall with a small bit of kudos. He’s not the vet poised to take home the Oscar though. 

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ethan-hawke-boyhood-1Ethan Hawke is up next, with this citation coming for his turn in Boyhood. Hawke is now on his fourth Academy Award nomination (if you can believe it). He’s previously been nominated in Best Supporting Actor for Training Day, while also competing twice in Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writing both Before Midnight and Before Sunset. This year also represents Hawke’s best chance to pull off an upset win, even if he’s the longest of long shots for a number two or so in a category. Hawke is benefitting from Boyhood being a major Oscar force, particularly with co-star Patricia Arquette basically a lock to win Best Supporting Actress. It’s hard to imagine Hawke winning Supporting Actor, but if there’s a big upset to be found, it could be him. If not, he’ll be back surely one day soon. 

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Emma_Stone_Edward_Norton_BirdmanEdward Norton is coming to us after his rather highly praised part in Birdman. This is his third nomination (and second in Supporting after Primal Fear…his Best Actor nod came for American History X), which more or less puts Norton into the category of being due for a win. The nom is likely to be his reward though, as he’s constantly hovered around the number two or three spot. There’s a chance that he becomes the main runner up, especially if Birdman continues its Oscar upswing in terms of viability, but the odds of him winning are rather low. Best Supporting Actor won’t be going to him this year.   One day soon.

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foxcatcherMark Ruffalo is our fourth nominated gentlemen, and someone who wound up here after turning in strong work in Foxcatcher. This is his second Academy Award nomination, as he was also nominated in Supporting Actor for The Kids Are All Right. Early on, Ruffalo was considered the prohibitive favorite to win, but times have since changed. It’d be a shock if he managed to claim the Oscar, as he’s basically the fourth most likely to emerge victorious. His time will definitely come, it’s just not likely to be this time around. Soon though, so don’t fret. Ruffalo is doing high quality work, so it’s just a matter of waiting for his moment to arrive. 

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J.K. Simmons WhiplashJ.K. Simmons is our last nominee here, and of course, he’s nominated for his towering work in Whiplash. Simmons finally has his first nomination after a long career of being a well deserving character actor, so it’s only fitting that not only is he finally an Academy Award nominee, he’s also the frontrunner, and not by a small margin. He’s a huge favorite for the Oscar, with an almost insurmountable lead with wins from the Golden Globes, BFCA, and SAG. Simmons has all but swept the precursors as well, so anything other than a win for him would be shocking. Anything is possible, I suppose, but not only is Simmons my pick to win, he’s basically a lock to do so. You can all but take it to the bank.

If you’re desperate to not consider this Oscar category a foregone conclusion (which it is), you can say that the race is between Simmons and either Hawke or Norton, depending on which film of theirs becomes the Best Picture winner. I can’t see anyone but Simmons winning, quite frankly, even if everyone (give or take Duvall) is deserving. It’s almost certainly going to be Simmons for Whiplash though, trust me. Stay tuned to find out who wins this Academy Award, as Best Supporting Actor is going to go to a rather deserving gentleman, no matter what!

Prediction: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

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Snubbed: Josh Brolin (for Inherent Vice), John Goodman (for The Gambler), Adam Sandler (for Men, Women & Children), Tyler Perry (for Gone Girl), and Tom Wilkinson (for Selma)

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!