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Oct 24 2014

The Wide Open Spaces of Best Supporting Actor

With only six presumed major contenders yet to be screened by these eyes (Unbroken,Big Eyes,Into the Woods,A Most Violent Year,Selma,American Sniper) it's awfully late in the year for there to be so little in the way of clues as to what the full Supporting Actor lineup might look like.In a more competitive year Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher),J.K.Simmons (Whiplash),and Edward Norton (Birdman) probably wouldn't seem like cast iron locks in October.But they do.

Kingsley (Exodus),Waltz (Big Eyes),Caine (Interstellar),Duvall (The Judge).19% of the nominees in this category in the past 20 years have been previous winners.

In the fantasy world inside my head,the Academy board of governors throws up their hands and admits defeat,making a special ruling that from this day forward there will be 7 Supporting Actress nominees each year and only 3 Supporting Actors because everyone knows that's the way it should be given the disparity gap in quality between the two categories.But the world doesn't operate by my actressexual logic,as tragic as that may be.

Given the Academy's lack of imagination for this particular category -- it's by a significant ratio the least quality-oriented among Oscar's long history with acting honors -- we'll most likely see some scenario where very traditional Oscar Bait or Category Frauders or Respected Men who they like regardless of the role / picture show up.Maybe a twofer from this previously nominated bunch:Christoph Waltz(Big Eyes),Robert Duvall(The Judge)Michael Caine(Interstellar),Josh Brolin(Inherent Vice-- I love this performance by the way.Not trying to paint it with an underserving brush),or maybe even a double whammy likeTim Roth/Tom Wilkinson(Selma) though the Supporting Actor category hasn't had a double sinceBugsyway back in 1991 with Ben Kingsley and Harvey Keitel.(Back then I pretended Keitel was nominated forThelma & Louiseinstead  - it made infinitely more sense)

My point is this: two spots are wide open for which truly no one can legitimately claim to have any solid traction for (yet).Frankly any actor with a good size role this year who is either a) respected or b) in an Oscar friendly movie,would be insane not to be shaking hands and kissing babies and doing a bajillion interviews.And as I've long maintained,campaigning as a long shot is NOT bad for your career.It helps you with momentum,even if you don't make it,the next time you're great in a picture.Pardon the pun,but it's a golden opportunity.

Here,for your hopeful amusement and ponderings,some contenders that aren't being discussed...


Elvis has arrived...at the Dolby Theater?I was the first pundit to suggest this and honestly I don't see why it's so far-fetched.He's a known commodity seen in a new context (often an attention-grabbing combo) in a crowd-pleading part in a blockbuster hit.Plus Supporting Actor,of all the acting categories,is arguably the one that's least concerned with actual performances and roles and more with the men in question.This is the category where they regularly shove people they just want to congratulate,people they just generally like regardless of the part,and careers that are there to be honored.(Plus its where they shove leading men who aren't strong enough to make it in the Lead Actor category but let's not get into Category Fraud today!) The real question here is whether AMPAS members loveGone Girland I'm getting conflicting info on that.

Billy Magnusson at the Tony AwardsCHRIS PINE and BILLY MAGNUSSEN,Into the Woods
Look,I know how Oscar works.They're more likely to nominate Johnny Depp as The Wolfno matter what he looks like thereinsince they like the familiar faces.Still,in nearly every production ofInto the Woodsthe Princes are awesome and funny.No one thinks "comedy!"when they hear the name Chris Pine unless they're obsessed withJust My Luckand if so they deserve our collective empathy but I assure all of you that theotherprince,stage actor Billy Magnussen,isthe real deal as comically gifted actors go.He's probably too young / too unknown by AMPAS types to win one of those "silly"nomination even if they end up lovingInto the Woodsbut maybe that "Agony"duet will be a real showstopper?

For symmetry's sake withIris (2001),they could nominate the long-suffering husband of the Best Actress with Alzheimers.If they do,everyone will be absolutely stunned to realize that Alec Baldwin is older now than Jim Broadbent was back then.True fact.

ANDY SERKIS,TOBY KEBELL,and JASON CLARKE,Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
People seem to have forgotten aboutDawn of the Planet of the Apeswhich is a bit weird when you consider how obsessed people were for at least two weeks earlier this year.Serkis and Kebell are both doing motion capture performances that everyone was wild for as the film's star ape and his antagonist.Oscar might not be quite ready to go there yet,but Oscar pundits and think piece essayists most definitely are each time.Eventually something like that will happen but I'm guessing we're about 10 years away from that scenario.Still,you never know and if the movie has a late revival and they're too scared to nominate an Ape there's always rising star Jason Clark in the lead role to consider for supporting.Can this movie's campaign team remind everyone how respected this cast was over the summer for some Best Ensemble traction at least?We'll see.

MARTIN SHORT,Inherent Vice
Hear me out and try not to hate me.I am not a fan of Martin Short.I know this makes me an outlier but his screen persona / performance style is too broad to take seriously in non-slapstick situations.Yes,even in the rare circumstances when he's doing drama.Nevertheless I am not blind to the crazy love other people feel for him and at least at the screening I attended forInherent Vicehis extended over the top cameo as a lecherous drug-addled dentist with a much younger girlfriend was a huge hit with the crowd.The Academy isn't opposed to oddball nominations in the supporting category if it means they can honor a veteran.Maybe this isn't so far-fetched at all...IF and only if the critics rally for Inherent Vice which they might despite it being Paul Thomas Anderson's worst movie.

ALBERT BROOKS,A Most Violent Yearand...uh...Drive
Fantasy Scenario Inside My Demented Oscar Brain: Feeling frisky the Actors Branch refuses to comply by AMPAS rules and forces a double nomination for Albert Brooks.First for his supporting role in the late breakingA Most Violent Yearand a special write-in forDrive(2011) the very first retroactive nomination for a past snub along with a full page apology in Variety.Sorry about it,man.You were such a good sport that year.Here's two nominations!

(more to come)

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Reader Comments (60)

I thought I had read earlier this month that Ralph Fiennes was being campaigned in supporting and if so wouldn't that be a lock?

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJonn

If Supporting Actor really is hard up for contenders why not go indie and give a nod to Jonathan Pryce for his terrific riff on Philip Roth in Listen Up Philip?It's one of his best big screen performances and a chance to give a first nomination to a guy who's been terrific for decades.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.

Is there no noise for James Gandolfini in THE DROP,or Shia LeBeouf in FURY?Or the stepdad in BOYHOOD?

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterErik

Does Tyler have one scene that makes him deserving of a nomination?I don't think so.I would nom all three women in the film and Ben -- the rest of the dudes are kind of one-dimensional.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

When actors see Boyhood (and at this point who hasn't?),they will put it down Arquette AND Hawke.I think he is a very likely contender at this point.Or maybe this is wishful thinking,but if the category is this barren,and Arquette/Boyhood is happening,what makes you think that Ethan wouldn't appear on all those ballots?I would move him up a tier,or maybe two tiers.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I think Ethan Hawke will get one of the 5 spots.Boyhood,Arquette and Linklater are so entrenched in their categories,he'll come along for the ride.Plus they have nominated him several times before.

They increasingly like double and triple nominations from the same films.Last year out of 20 acting nominations only Bullock,Dench and Abdi were their film's sole nominee.And we know Bullock doesn't really count.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

The possibility that the Academy does not completely dig Gone Girl + the lack of respect for Tyler Perry as an actor + his rather subdued performance in Gone Girl = no nomination,at least in my book.

I would think that NPH as the host has a better chance of building enough momentum to get a nom.I still don't think that will happen,but I'd rank it as a bigger likelihood than Perry.I don't remember even a single review that singled Perry out.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

I agree that Hawke is probably in,and am somewhat expecting the nod at this point.The Foxcatcher team should also get their act together and push Tatum into Supporting.My understanding is that it's where he belongs,but even if it's category fraud,they could pull the double nod.If not,Fiennes makes sense too (also category fraud,but whatever).

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Call me crazy,but I think Tatum could *win* if put in supporting.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Nathaniel remember this and you hears it from me first: Constance Brennerman will be an Oscar Contender for Best Supporting Actress for her amazing performance in "The Toy Soldiers"bank it!!!!

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

If NPH gets nominated for Gone Girl I may abstain from the Oscars this year.亚博主页

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I have doubts about supporting chances for the men of "Into the Woods"- they're all pretty brief and comic.Although wouldn't Corden be categorized there rather than lead?

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave

But Nathaniel,if they reduce the supporting actor roster to three in order to add two more slots to supporting actress,we might miss out on a lot of great nominees.

What would the history of this category be if not for Kenneth Branagh's nomination forMy Week with Marilyn?

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Pretentious Know it All

As far as cast-iron locks go,we could do worse than Ruffalo,Norton and Simmons.(I'm a Ruffalo man myself,but those are all actors worth rooting for.)

I also really see Hawke as the next strongest contender.Big,likeable part in big,likeable (likely) best picture nominee.He should be able to slide in with Arquette.

But,yeah,for that last slot,take a random pick.Could be anyone.I'd love for it to be Brolin.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

TPKIA -- lol

Dave - Corden is being campaigned leading.That's direct from Disney

eurocheese -- you have heard false information.Channing Tatum is very much the lead of Foxcatcher.He has the largest role,followed by Carell (co-lead) with Ruffalo as true supporting and missing for long stretches.

Jonn -- hmmm.i hadn't heard that but interesting if true.Though will they by it with no other lead in the film.it's hard to say when and why they reject certain categorizations.

October 24,2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Evan - a lot of people have singled Perry out,but I think that's due to a) critics being pleasantly surprised due to low expectations after seeing all his Madea films and b) him providing a lot of the comic relief in the movie.But yeah,I don't see a nom happening,either.

"Everyone will be absolutely stunned to realize that Alec Baldwin is older now than Jim Broadbent was back then.True fact."WUT.

Nat,why do you keep insisting Selma is going to be a big deal with the Oscars?亚博主页I'm not saying it isn't,I'm just wondering,since no one else seems to be considering it as a major contender.Will it get a big push?Ava DuVernay isn't exactly a big name with the Academy.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

DJDeeDay -- i'm definitely not "insisting"so much as thinking that if it's great,it wouldn't have trouble getting attention.I haven't seen it but I thought Duvernay's last picture was terrific.

October 24,2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

If Tyler Perry gets a nomination for Gone Girl,he will cement the recent tradition of one unbelievably lazy ass choice for this category every year,starting with Alan Arkin in 2012 and Jonah Hill last year.These Academy voters need to see more movies.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I think that the review embargo on Big Hero 6 end on Monday so you have waited maybe to update that category.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commenterchinoiserie

I don't think either Big Eyes or Into the Woods will get much traction and (if they open in time) will die a quiet death in the conversation.Harvey is SILENT on Big Eyes which says volumes and as Disney has the house staked in Into the Woods,it is getting lots of press,but none of it from anyone without an interest in seeing it succeed.

I think your mentions of Short (a truly nice man who is talented),Baldwin (lots of career to award there,Cate's/JMoore's coattails and genuine acting ability) and Brooks (ditto to Baldwin) are good guesses.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Though I haven't seen Still Alice,if the Academy wanted to "nominate the long-suffering husband of the Best Actress with Alzheimers,"they would have nominated Gordon Pinsent in Away From Her.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

I see what you're saying,Bill_the_Bear,but it's always tough trying to transplant one year's narrative onto another.Firstly,Pinsent was (arguably) a co-lead and Best Actor that year did not have a lot of slots up for grabs,I would say.Emile Hirsch was the only person who a lot people probably thought would be nominated who didn't end up getting in.Also,Alec Baldwin is a much more important figure to Academy members than Pinsent.Not to sound cynical,but he's a previous nominee,he's American and he's much more famous than Gordon Pinsent.All of that stuff does matter.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Pretentious Know it All

Bill_the_Bear,I guess Pinsett was promoted as Lead,so that explained the lack of nom.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commenterleon

Also,while he wouldn't be on my ballot,there have been way worse,way more embarrassing nominees and winners in supporting actor than Tyler Perry inGone Girl.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Pretentious Know it All

Love the Russo mention (even if it is wishful thinking).She is such a good (and fun) actress who is skilled at in comedy AND drama - and it was very upsetting to see her in the nothing part that the Thor movies gave her.

Re: Supporting Actor - I don't think Ruffalo is as sure of a thing that people are thinking.In most reviews,he was outshined by his co-stars - and I can easily see critics rallying around other supporting men who are yet to come.

Re: Actress - I feel like everyone is predicting Moore,Witherspoon,Pike & Jones.I think they are pretty good bets right now BUT we really know very little until the critics groups speak - and I can easily see them giving other well known stars (i.e.Cotillard,Johansson & Adams) big boosts.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

Really not getting where this Tyler Perry motion is coming from -- he was...perfectly serviceable in the film.The role didn't ask much,but he added maybe just enough oomph to draw attention within the film -- but OSCAR?

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Really not getting where this Tyler Perry motion is coming from -- he was...perfectly serviceable in the film.The role didn't ask much,but he added maybe just enough oomph to draw attention within the film -- but OSCAR?

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

My fifth spot choice for Supporting Actor would be Bill Nighy in Pride.I haven't seen it yet,but look forward to it.Nighy is so dependably entertaining.

My other wild cards would be:
Co-lead category fraud,no room in the lead,so they chose another film: Oscar Isaac in The Two Faces of January.

Love the actor,rewarding him for being good over and over again,in a yet unseen potential Oscar movie: Danny Huston in Big Eyes.

Love the actor,in a non Oscar movie (except for technical categories): Anthony Mackie in The Winter Soldier.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Yes to Bill Nighy inPrideand what about Jaeden Lieberher (child actor,actual co-lead inSt.Vincent,great performance).Aren't there going to be at least obligatory campaigns in a year like this?

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I can't understand having Hawke so low if you think the race is so wide open.His work might not be super-showy,but he's got at least three moments in the film that are ready-made Oscar clips,especially his last scene.And Boyhood's getting Picture/Director/Supporting Actress/Screenplay/Editing,so why not Supporting Actor as well?People that love the movie will nominate it everywhere they can.

also WTF Tyler Perry.He was serviceable in his role,but the praise is based on the absurdly low expectations people have had for him.Gone Girl's not getting any acting nominations aside from Pike.
Also Fox Searchlight should totally move Ralph Fiennes to supporting.That'd almost guarantee a nomination for him in this horribly weak field.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commenterlandshark

adri - Two Faces of January is from Magnolia.Don't expect a full campaign.

And yes,hawke sounds more likely at this stage.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commenterleon

Pssst,does Emily Blunt really have 18 nominations and 3 wins?

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

Love the Carrie Coons mention in your chart.Even if her role in Gone Girl doesn't quite let her shine,if people watch her stand-alone episode from "The Leftovers"they'd want to hand her an Oscar nom anyway.Wasn't it stunning?!

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterTom M

Nathaniel,on your Actress chart,you have Anne Hathaway listed with only "1 nom/1 win".Although I wish this was true,she inexplicably has 2 noms.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlea

I pretended Keitel was nominated for Thelma & Louise too!Poor Harvey.Such a good run in the 90s and he only gets recognized for Bugsy.

Billy Magnussen was funny even in a show as gloomy as The Leftovers.

What about Dominic West in Pride?

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

In the fantasy world inside my head,the Academy board of governors throws up their hands and admits defeat,making a special ruling that from this day forward there will be 7 Supporting Actress nominees each year and only 3 Supporting Actors because everyone knows that's the way it should be given the disparity gap in quality between the two categories

Given how much stronger best actor often is,I'm a little surprised to see this espoused (I also don't agree,so take that for what you will).

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Doesn't Michael Caine have 2 noms & 2 wins?

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMe

Me -- no 6 noms & 2 wins.it's on the chart

arkaan -- i wasn't talking about Best Actor but about Best Supporting Actor

October 24,2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I know.But given how much stronger best actor is compared to best actress,an equivalent rule (7 actors,three actresses) would make sense there,but I can't imagine I would like that very much.

But AMPAS fumbles the ball fairly regularly with supporting actors,no doubt.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Tyler Perry getting Oscar traction for this reminds me of Mariah getting attention for Precious...they did their job and did it well,but it's not awards worthy.Just seems that way because it's left field for these people to do well in a critically well-received film.

Though I will say,a Mariah Carey nom for Precious would be more deserved than Tyler Perry in Gone Girl.She had more to do and at least had a useable clip.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Nathaniel,you say that AMPAS always loves Michael Caine,perhaps insinuating that he's been over-nominated.Is this a correct assumption?If so,where is your difference of opinion?Personally,I think he's hugely talented.I watched Hannah and her Sisters recently,and he's terrific in it.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commentercash

Fantasy Scenario InsideMyDemented Oscar Brain: albert brooks gets a retroactivewinfor 'broadcast news'

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

John Goodman for The Gambler?

October 24,2014 | Unregistered CommenterH

Par: Seconded.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commentercash

despite it being Paul Thomas Anderson's worst movie

There Will Be Blood and Hard Eight are vying for that title.Blood is boring and Eight is a bit of a mess.But in Eight's defense it is a debut feature.Where he was not granted final cut privilege.Boogie Nights is overrated.While Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love receive the short end of the stick.The Master is the kind of movie other filmmakers and serious film lovers admire.Hence Woody Allen casting Joaquin Phoenix after seeing The Master and praising PTA as the best living American filmmaker of today.

October 24,2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

If we're throwing out names from unknown commodities -- what about Michael K.Williams forThe Gambler?I know literally nothing about the role,but Williams is one of those workhorse actors who's worked with just about everybody and he'll also have his appearance inInherent Vicehelping with visibility at the end of the year.(Though I've heard that Goodman is apparently the real stealth possibility fromGambler)

October 25,2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

I really believe that Channing Tatum can run away with this category if they do a Julia Roberts in August Osage County kind of fraud and put him in supporting.

October 25,2014 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel

I agree with everyone else - you're underestimating Boyhood.Not only is Hawke way too low on the chart,but it's goofy to have Arquette second to Emma Stone.

Arquette has recieved best in show marks in the best-reviewed film in the year - Stone is maybe the 3rd,4th or 5th best-reviewed actor in Birdman.The people who win supporting awards are always the scene stealers (Lupita,Leto,Bale,Mo'nique) or they're winning career honors (Morgan Freeman,arguably Plummer).Stone doesn't belong in either category.And her two other 2014 releases were lackluster.

October 25,2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

MOORE really don't see it she's NOT repeat not a good actress one bad performance after another :(

October 25,2014 | Unregistered CommenterReza

Suzanne -- maybe but Emma Stone is closer to what AMPAS likes to award than someone like Patricia Arquette.Emma is in their sweet spot in terms of age and type.I actually think people are underestimating her.

but i might be underestimating Boyhood,sure,granted.

H -- we've heard buzz for Goodman before multiple times.hasn't panned out.We'll see.I actually dont know what to make of The Gambler.The original is widely known but it was never an awards deal really.but rupert wyatt is coming off of the surprisingly good Rise of Planet of Apes and the cast is great so it should be intersting to see how its received (critically,box office,everythign)

Cash -- i've never understood the fuss regarding Caine,no.I think overnominated and definitely over-Oscared.I don't think he deserved either of his wins,actually.I'm a huge fan of Hannah & Her Sisters but I've never really understood that win.

Reza -- it's probably frustrating to not understand the fuss (like me with Michael Caine) but the majority of cinephiles think she's one ofthebest actresses so we have what's a substantial difference of opinion :)

3rtful -- to each their own but "boring"is about the last word I'd use to describe There Will Be Blood.

Everyone -- seems to be taking this post very seriously.As you know I like to carve out "what if"scenarios.Some of these will prove virtually impossible,others might be weirdly accurate..I think it's very important (in order to have fun) to stay flexible in your thinking when it comes to these things.What will be will be.It's early still.

October 25,2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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