Alan Arkin – Argo
Oscar Scene: “Argo fuck yourself”
Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
Oscar Scene: “When life reaches out with a woman like this it’s a sin if you don’t reach back, I’m telling you its a sin if you don’t reach back!”
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
Oscar Scene: Lancaster Dodd processing Freddie Quell
Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
Oscar Scene: Thaddeus Stevens facing off with Mary Todd Lincoln
Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained
Oscar Scene: Dr. King Shultz introducing himself to Django
There may be no category as up in the air this time around as Best Supporting Actor. Very few people are confident about their picks, and this is certainly as wide open as any the category has seen in years. It’s also noteworthy for featuring five nominees who are each prior winners, including one actor seeking his third Oscar. At least a three horse race, Best Supporting Actor may very well come down to who actually gave the best performance of the group. There are 100% other factors to consider, but with this tight a contest, it’s conceivable that voters actually took quality into account. The gentlemen nominated all are favorite sons to one degree or another, so lets dive in and take a look at them, shall we?
First a bit of history for all of you, as I’m prone to do with Oscar Circuit pieces each year. The last dozen winners in this category have been Christopher Plummer (for Beginners), Christian Bale (for The Fighter), Christoph Waltz (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), Chris Cooper (for Adaptation), Jim Broadbent (for Iris), and Benicio Del Toro (for Traffic). This category tends to reward overdue veterans more so than anyone else, but as you can see Academy members won’t have that option this time around.
Alan Arkin is our first man up, and he’s nominated for his turn in Argo. This is Arkin’s fourth nomination, previously winning an Oscar in this very category for Little Miss Sunshine. More than any other fella here, Arkin is nominated because the Academy likes his film. Argo had coattails and they extended to him, though oddly not to Ben Affleck, but we’ve been over that already. Most people are safely dismissing Arkin, and that’s pretty logical thinking, but I’d say he’s not the least likely winner here. If Argo somehow manages to go on a sweep, keep an eye out for the closest thing to an upset that this category can produce. He’s an upset, and the second least likely victor, but don’t completely discount Arkin as a dark horse.
Robert De Niro is the second nominated performer, and this comes for his work in Silver Linings Playbook. The legendary performer scored his seventh Oscar nomination, with prior Academy Award wins for Raging Bull (in the Lead category) and The Godfather: Part II (which came right here in Best Supporting Actor). Yes, De Niro seeks his third win as a part of this Academy favorite flick. He does seem initially like a contender who’d come up just short, considering the dearth of precursor love (only Arkin was cited less among the nominees), but Oscar does like him more than the guilds do. Factor in a full court press from Harvey Weinstein, the love that Silver Linings Playbook seems to have, and I think De Niro is the second most likely winner of this group. Remember, he was only nominated in this category once before, and he wound up winning…
Philip Seymour Hoffman is our third nominee, coming to us courtesy of his hugely admired work in The Master. This is his fourth nomination and would represent his second win (that was for his lone Lead nomination, of course for Capote). None of our nominees here were as beloved by the critics as Hoffman, but that doesn’t look to translate into a Supporting Actor win. It doesn’t help him that The Master isn’t beloved by the Academy, but more than that, he’s just stayed in the background during the important guilds. He’s been nominated a pair of other times in this category, but he’s lost each time. Look for that to continue, as believe it or not Hoffman is the least likely person to win the Oscar this year for Best Supporting Actor.
Tommy Lee Jones is our fourth/second to last nominated individual, and he wound up here thanks to stealing scenes from Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln. This also happens to be his fourth Oscar nomination, and he’ll be seeking his second win after previously emerging victorious from this very category for his work in The Fugitive. Many have Jones as the favorite this year, but I actually think he’s probably more likely to lose than people think. He hasn’t exactly campaigned for the statue, and while he’s been honored plenty and certainly is good enough to win, I’m not sure how many people feel that he NEEDS to win. Another nominee or two have that in their favor, and he does not. It would probably be the most expect outcome if Jones wins, but I actually have him in the second runner-up spot now.
Christoph Waltz is our final nominee, and of course he’s nominated for his part in Django Unchained. This is his second nomination, and he actually won this very category a few years ago for stealing scenes in Inglourious Basterds. As you can gather by now, I’m predicting Waltz to win this year too. He’s won some important precursors, given well received speeches, and it’s clear that voters enjoy him doing this sort of part. That being said, he won for almost exactly the same kind of role, so that may hurt him as much as help him. I know I’m somewhat in the minority here, but I expect Waltz to surprise and win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar this weekend. I wouldn’t be shocked if he lost, but he’s my pick to come out on top.
If you’re desperate to reduce this category to its bare bones essentials, the race is between Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, and Christoph Waltz. I could see any of the three winning, and in fact wouldn’t totally count anyone out, but something tells me that either De Niro or Waltz will pull the pseudo upset over Jones. Stay tuned to find out who wins this weekend, as Best Supporting Actor is going to come down to the absolute wire!
Prediction: Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
Snubbed: Jason Clarke (for Zero Dark Thirty), John Goodman (for Argo), Matthew McConaughey (for Magic Mike), Michael Pena (for End of Watch), and Mark Ruffalo (for The Avengers)
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!