Decoding The Nominees: Supporting Actor


HOLLYWOOD—There always appears to be that one category at the Academy Awards that is always difficult to predict.  That one category is often Supporting Actress or Supporting Actor.  This year the Supporting Actor race will be one of the toughest to predict in years as there is  no clear front-runner in sight.  The surprise in this race is the fact that each nominee has already taken home the golden statue before, so it’s no newbies this time around.

Christoph Waltz is absolutely the hero that audiences root for in “Django Unchained.”  His dialogue, his actions, his presence on the screen would almost in my opinion place him in the Lead Actor race, but that’s an argument for another time.  The problem with Waltz is that some would argue his co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson were equally terrific in the picture as well.  Even though they’re not nominated they are characters the audience buzzes about much more.

Robert De Niro is an actor who has proven time and time again if given the right role he will do wonders with the character. “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “The Godfather Part II” and “CapeFear” are all films that prove that. What he does as the OCD father in “Silver Linings Playbook” is short of incredible.  He is attempting to grapple with his son’s bipolar disorder, at the same time concealing his disorder as well.  He has demons in his closet and it takes time for him to reveal those demons to the audience, but when he does in a fist fight with his son it’s incredible to watch on the screen.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman is relentless in “The Master.”  Hoffman infuses a wit to an egotistical teacher who pushes his students to the limit.  To say that the character is intense would be an understatement, but Hoffman hits just the right texture points for the character.  At times you hate him, at other times you love him.  He’s a villain who’s also a hero and balancing those characteristics is not an easy task, but Phillip does so effortlessly.

Alan Arkin portrays an over the top film producer to the ‘T.’ In laments terms, he’s one of the reasons “Argo” works so well because he becomes a character that the audience will synonymously identify with.  This is that egotistical, brass and foul-mouthed producer who believes he controls the world and that his every demand must be met without question.  Arkin is a delight on the screen to watch, as he makes the other actors in the picture Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman shine.

Tommy Lee Jones rounds out our list of nominees with his performance as abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens.  Jones absolutely commands the screen each and every time he appears.  He exudes a passion into a character that is quite intense as he goes toe-to-toe with our 16th President.  He’s not afraid to back down, and he speaks the truth no matter how harsh it may be to the other party.

In my personal opinion, I think the Oscar will come down to two high-caliber actors: Tommy Lee Jones “ Lincoln” and Robert De Niro “Silver Linings Playbook.”  While De Niro has not received much love this awards season, his movie is dominating the box-office right now which means the public loves it and that is giving him a likely push for Academy voters.  Besides it’s been quite some time since he was last nominated for such an iconic role.  That same notion applies for Jones who hasn’t had a role this meaty in a few years.  So in the end, my hope is that Robert De Niro is victorious in the race.  He may not have won any awards so far this season, but the Oscar would be the icing on the cake after the nomination.  Remember Supporting Actor is always the dark horse at the Academy Awards and I expect nothing short this year.

By LaDale Anderson