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For Your Consideration: 5 Overlooked Supporting Actors Who Deserve Some Awards Season Attention

by Oliver Lyttelton
November 14, 2013 2:26 PM
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FYC Supporting Actors, Oscars 2013

The Phoney War phase of the awards season is starting to come to an end: we've already had nominations from smaller precursors like the Gotham Awards and the British Independent Film Awards, and in a little over two weeks, things will get underway properly with the New York Film Critics Awards and the National Board of Review Awards, kicking off a month full of nominees and winners ahead of the opening of Oscar voting on December 27th.

So, with the days getting shorter and the wave of awards getting closer, we wanted to prep for the start of voting by reminding ourselves, and you, of some of the performances and films that might have slipped away from the main Oscar narrative but are no less deserving of being rewarded. So over the next few weeks, we're going to be highlighting some of the actors, actresses, directors and films that we think deserve more consideration than they might be getting so far. Kicking off this week are five people we'd love to see break into the Supporting Actor race: check out our picks below, and talk about your favorites in the comments section.


Jake Gyllenhaal - "Prisoners"
While it was warmly received at Telluride and Toronto, awards buzz dissipated quickly for "Prisoners," which, while liked by critics and audiences, was likely ultimately too pulpy to make much of an impression on a competitive race. It's a shame, because while the film's occasionally silly in its plotting, it's one of the more absorbing and well-made pure thrillers in recent years, and we're particularly sad that it's unlikely Jake Gyllenhaal won't figure in, for giving one of the best performances of his career, and even amidst a strong cast, he's the obvious stand-out. On paper, the ludicrously named Detective Loki is a cliché: a loner cop who's solved every case he's ever had, and isn't going to let his latest one defeat him. But Gyllenhaal makes it something stranger than the archetype: with a blinking tic, tattoos and borderline Asperger-y social skills, he hints at a darker past a long way from his current path of law and order, one that the performance and film is smart enough to keep on the fringes. Almost every choice the actor makes is a little unexpected, and his off-beat rhythms clash beautifully with Hugh Jackman's terrifying, grief-stricken revenge-bear. Clearly, Gyllenhaal and "Prisoners" director Denis Villeneuve have found fruitful collaborators in each other, as Playlisters who saw their other film together, "Enemy" (due for release next year), suggest it's something to get equally excited about. But for now, we're just pleased that the actor was able to elevate material that might have been by-the-numbers into one of the more exciting performances of the year. It would be out of character for us to actively encourage franchising of movies, but we have to admit, we wouldn't be against the idea of further adventures of Blinky The Supercop down the road ...

Short Term 12

Keith Stanfield - "Short Term 12"
Though its script is occasionally problematic, SXSW sensation "Short Term 12" was  undoubtedly one of the most impressive indies of the year, and features a killer ensemble of mostly unfamiliar faces. You'll likely see the film pop up more than once in this series, but one of the actors that blew us away was from an almost-total newcomer, 22-year-old Keith Stanfield. The young actor is the only cast member to recur from the short film that writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton expanded into the feature, and you can see why he would want to keep him around: Stanfield's never showy, but is enormously compelling whenever he's on screen. The actor plays Marcus, the oldest of the inhabitants of the titular foster care facility, one who's about to graduate to the real world, and through the prickliness and stand-offishness he shows, you can see that he's terrified by the idea. Marcus isn't the easiest guy to warm to, and Stanfield bravely doesn't chase anyone's sympathy, and partly because of that, you love him to pieces, and are wrenched, and eventually uplifted, by the way his story unfolds. He's also the center of one of the film's stand-out sequences, the improvised rap in which his character lets his soul out a little bit. That, as unlikely as it seems, may actually see Stanfield get Academy attention, as it is currently a dark horse in the Best Original Song category, but we'd be thrilled to see Stanfield honored elsewhere, as he's clearly going places.

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  • No | January 9, 2014 5:55 AMReply

    I'm hoping that Andrew Dice Clay finally gets the recognition he deserves as an actor, for his brilliant role in Blue Jasmine. Clay is perhaps one of the most underrate actors in the history of film. "The Dice Man" itself, is a decades long role. The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane nealry destroyed Clay's movie career & it wasn't even that bad. (It didn't deserve a Razzie) I'd really like to see Clay make a comeback. We need some intelligent & creative directors, that have the ability to recognize & utilize Clay's potential.

  • sdfsdf | January 9, 2014 5:51 AMReply


  • Samantha | December 4, 2013 8:50 PMReply

    Sam Rockwell all the way!!!!!

  • rick | November 28, 2013 1:03 AMReply

    McKinnon. Absolutely.
    Gyllenhaal? Absolutely NOT. Maybe Jake, being the really "good" detective that he was in Prisoners, can figure out why not.

  • Cerone | January 20, 2014 4:25 PM

    You're insane if you think Gyllenhall is not worthy of best supporting actor for his restrained knockout performance in Prisoners.

  • Domenica | November 26, 2013 11:25 AMReply

    Emory Cohen?! He was painfully bad in The Place Beyond the Pines; his being mentioned has to be some kind of joke.

  • Lisa | November 24, 2013 11:33 PMReply

    I was wondering where Sam Rockwell was on this list!!!!!!! Glad other people think so too.

  • ROB | November 21, 2013 3:20 AMReply

    Yes to Sam Rockwell who'd be my ballot topper at this point for The Way Way Back (I'd also consider Alison Janney's hilarious scene-stealing for Supporting Actress as there are some nice subtle shades she throws into the mix at the right moments).

    The suggestions of Ethan Hawke in Before Midnight for this category are a joke though, right? He's there at the beginning of the film, the end of the film, and all the bits in between too. Kinda like - oh yeah - in Training Day.

  • cory everett | November 18, 2013 2:24 PMReply

    "Emory Cohen turned a lot of heads in 'The Place Beyond The Pines'" < That's a nice way of putting it...

  • newyorker | November 18, 2013 1:52 PMReply

    10 actors i think deserves noms for best supporting role are
    1-James Franco-Spring Breakers
    2-Tony Danza-Don Jon
    3-Mads Mikkelsen-Charlie Countryman
    4-Jake Gyllenhaal-Prisoners
    5-Sam Rockwell-The Way, Way Back
    6-Alexander Skarsgard-Disconnect
    7-Harrison Ford-42
    8-Tobey Maguire-The Great Gatsby
    9-Ethan Hawke-Before Midnight
    10-Tim Robbins-Thanks For Sharing

  • BRUCE DERN BEST PERFORMANCE WAS 'TATTOO' | November 24, 2013 12:11 PM


    oh come on joel Edgerton stole TGG

    that frost/nixon style war of words between himself and dicaprio towards the end


  • Kay Winter | November 17, 2013 9:44 PMReply

    How about Ethan Hawke in Before Midnight. It was a tough pace to keep but He was perfect in every way.

  • jinny | December 13, 2013 3:27 PM

    Did you not read the article properly? This is the SUPPORTING actors that are being discussed, not leads.

  • Ben | November 17, 2013 1:08 PMReply

    I would add Barkhad Abdi from "Captain Phillips" to the list in addition to Sam Rockwell, already mentioned here. As well as Ty Sheridan from "Mud" -- for my money, the kid held his own with McConaughey, doing incredible work. Technically, he's got the most screen time of any character and shouldn't be considered in the "supporting" category. But given how these things work -- well, they'd probably slot him there.

  • TRAVIS CONWAY | November 24, 2013 12:30 PM

    Vithaya Pansringarm -only god forgives
    Jared Leto -dallas buyers club
    Will Forte -Nebraska
    Sharlto Copley -oldboy
    Jonah Hill -wolf of wall street
    Barkhad Abdi -captain Phillips
    Joel Edgerton -the great Gatsby
    Sam Shepard -out of the furnace
    William H macy -a single shot

  • Kevin Klawitter | November 16, 2013 1:02 PMReply

    Sam Rockwell in "The Way Way Back"

  • just saying | November 16, 2013 3:38 PM

    Yes, to Sam Rockwell. This guy is very underrated, but , please no to stoner and overrated James Franco.

  • Franco | November 16, 2013 11:24 AMReply

    "Let's not beat around the bush here: for all our pleading, there is exactly no chance of James Franco's Alien in Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" being recognized by the Academy.", I love the way this guy can read minds. Unless, the Academy is totally fixed and there is no need for even a voting system, then like everyone else involved, Franco has every chance to gain nomination and possibly win.

    "Matthew McConaughey doing an impression of Lil' Jon" is hardly the kind of thing that usually appeals to the Academy.", basically that's your opinion, you can't read the Academy minds as I previously stated. Furthermore, please don't insult Franco in comparing his performance to McConaughey's.

    The main point of being an actor, is to take on a role that showcases an amazing range in character development with a transformation in appearance that isn't the normal, from what we are usually used to in that particular person performances.

    I have huge respect for McConaughey and his amazing talent as an actor, especially since his done 180 degrees turn in becoming a much better actor but Franco is miles ahead of him and in no way shape or form trying to copy him. Just because McConaughey has had an amazing year, in respect so has Franco (some seem to want to forget to build up others), it is just not for Spring Breakers, don't undermine Franco's talents to try to build up McConaughey's or by saying Franco is channeling someone else.

    It's a role that Franco created with various elements that he should be proud off. His role is iconic no matter how it finally came about and shouldn't be an after thought in any award season or write-up, as Spring Breakers has already proved that it will be a cult classic. It will out last the a number of the nominees and I bet final winner the press is trying so desperately to force feed us on, clearly on behalf of the Academy.

    However, I repeat Alien will be remembered for many years to come that has been cemented by the number of fans who dressed up as Alien for this year's Halloween, not the ones the press is again force feeding us.

  • FRANCO | November 26, 2013 12:34 PM

    @ ALEX - sorry late reply.

    "Do you think that it is saying that McConaughey can do a better impression of Lil' Jon than Franco?", YES - I think the article is implying that but WRONG, even though Franco wasn't going for Lil' Jon but based some of the qualities of Alien on a rapper called Dangeruss.

    Generally, on this website they tend to either hate on Franco or give backhanded compliments.

    Franco's role was something he was born to play as Alien, and so unique in his performance.

    Although, Franco is a true master at playing excellent but different drug dealers from Saul - Pineapple Express (which should have gained him an Oscar nod -thus Spring Breakers will make up for it), Danny - Green Hornet and Gator from Homefront, it's necessary for any award season again not to ignore Franco's brilliant iconic role as Alien.

    He truly deserves an Oscar nomination for his efforts and possible win. The fantastic year that Franco has had should be recognized with again best awards either as a Lead, Supporting or Director.

  • Alex | November 18, 2013 4:21 PM

    The way they say "Matthew McConaughey doing an impression of Lil' Jon" is not the website saying that Jame Franco copied Matthew McConaughey. It is just a humorous anecdote. How is it building up McConaughey by saying that Francos performance is reminiscent of McConaughey doing a Lil' Jon impression? Do you think that it is saying that McConaughey can do a better impression of Lil' Jon than Franco?

  • j | November 15, 2013 9:14 AMReply

    Great article.

  • Note | November 15, 2013 6:14 AMReply

    Short Term 12 wasn't the debut of Destin. It's his 2nd narrative and 3rd feature.

  • BERNIE ROSE | November 24, 2013 12:45 PM

    'short term 12' is the exact same as 'Smashed'

    Oscar worthy lead performance but too low budget to get the nom

  • BERNIE ROSE | November 24, 2013 12:32 PM

    'short term 12' is the exact same as 'Smashed'

    Oscar worthy lead performance but too low budget to get the nom

  • james | November 14, 2013 11:17 PMReply

    Young Ju Seo (the son) for Moebius.

  • Erik | November 14, 2013 5:35 PMReply

    Andrew Dice Clay and Bobby Cannavale were both very effective in Blue Jasmine.

  • alonzo harris | November 14, 2013 5:16 PMReply

    Zac Efron in AT ANY PRICE

  • Jax | November 14, 2013 5:13 PMReply

    Gyllenhaal was co-lead. Not that it has ever stopped the academy.

  • johnny | November 14, 2013 4:19 PMReply

    What about Colin Farrell for "Saving Mr. Banks" ? Hearing he could be a dark horse in the Supporting Actor category....

  • VINCENT HANNA | November 24, 2013 12:48 PM

    2 noms in one year

    captain phillips
    saving mr banks

    the hours
    far from heaven

    the piano
    the firm

  • benutty | November 14, 2013 3:53 PMReply

    THIS ICONIC AND 100% ACCURATE POST >>>>>>>>>>>

    Jake honestly gives one of the most iconic performances of the year. He completely steals that movie out from under everyone else and deserves a nomination for that eye twitch alone. I'm not the biggest fan of Prisoners as a film, but his performance is just simply the best.

    And I'm entirely on board with Ben Foster and Keith Stanfield as well.

  • JAKE SULLY | November 24, 2013 1:18 PM

    ben foster was amazing in 3 10 to Yuma
    and don't even get me started on THE MESSENGER

  • Rick | November 14, 2013 3:25 PMReply

    Spring Breakers kind of went over my head. I don't get what people like about it. I agree with everyone else especially Keith Stanfield, he was really great

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