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Oscars: Can Anyone Beat Philip Seymour Hoffman To Best Supporting Actor?

Awards
by Oliver Lyttelton
October 5, 2012 11:00 AM
26 Comments
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Last week in our category spotlight, we took a look at the relatively thin Supporting Actress field, so it feels only natural to head over to the Supporting Actor boys this time around. And of all the acting categories, it might be the most interesting: it's not as locked-up as the leading men (which has six or seven heavy hitters battling it out for five slots), and not as sparse as the actress categories, with multiple contenders any of whom could win or fall out altogether.

Right now, the big heavyweight, and essentially the lock in the race is probably Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master." It's widely assumed by now that he'll be campaigning in Supporting Actor, with Joaquin Phoenix taking lead, and even if the part's not quite the Daniel Plainview-type career-defining role we thought it could be, the actor's so good in the film that a nomination is pretty much assured. Is the award already his? Certainly not, with many, many others still in the mix.

Elsewhere, William H. Macy's priest in "The Sessions" has a fair bit of buzz (the actor only has one prior nomination for "Fargo," so could be seen as overdue), but the film's slipping a little, so a nod isn't assured as it once seemed. As far as fellow Sundance films go, baker-turned-actor Dwight Henry has been building buzz for "Beasts Of The Southern Wild," while some have floated the possibility of Nick Offerman for "Smashed," though it's a minor, comic relief role and we'd guess he won't get much traction, as much as we love him. For other early-year fare, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy both had good parts in "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" -- the former a vibrant, gay man late in life, the latter a wisecracking husband in an unhappy marriage. Nighy's never been nominated, but Wilkinson probably has the better role.

Some are pushing Guy Pearce for his eyebrow-free villain in "Lawless," but we think it's unlikely to happen; James Gandolfini probably has a better chance for "Killing Them Softly," but even that may be a bit of a stretch. But probably the best chance of a film from the summer is Matthew McConaughey in "Magic Mike." The actor's having a hell of a comeback year and pretty much everyone has been calling him out for a nomination since Steven Soderbergh's movie hit theaters -- expect WB to push this one hard.

Meanwhile, "Silver Linings Playbook" gives Robert De Niro his best chance in a long time for his first nomination since "Cape Fear" in 1991. Indeed, given the swell of love for the film, he probably has the best chance of anyone at beating Hoffman to the prize. Meanwhile, of the other big awards hopefuls, there could be a few possibilities in Ben Affleck's "Argo," including Bryan Cranston and Scoot McNairy, but it's Alan Arkin who has the early momentum, while his co-star in Ben Affleck's film, John Goodman, is said to have a good part in Robert Zemeckis' "Flight."

There are a few possibilities in "Anna Karenina," including Jude Law, Domnhal Gleeson and Matthew Macfadyen, but this film is looking more like a tech and costume category movie than anything else. And while some have mentioned Irffan Khan in "Life Of Pi," acting nominations are probably unlikely for Ang Lee's film. At one stage, it felt like Ewan McGregor might be in for "The Impossible," but it's more Naomi Watts' show. One performance that is gathering a little buzz is Michael Peña in "End Of Watch," although we still feel the film's awards chances are slim. And speaking of slim chances, could Bruce Willis be recognized for starring in two of the best movies of the year in "Looper" and "Moonrise Kingdom?" Probably not, but it's not entirely inconceivable.

Later in the season brings a number of heavy hitters as nominal villains, namely Leonardo DiCaprio in "Django Unchained" and Russell Crowe in "Les Misérables" (in theory the latter might have campaigned in lead, but Hugh Jackman's being given the only non-supporting push for the film, wisely). His co-stars Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen could also be in the running, although probably not. Word is that David Strathairn and Tommy Lee Jones, as William Seward and Thaddeus Stevens, are the ones to look out for in "Lincoln," most notably the latter.

Also worth keeping tabs on: Hal Holbrook in "Promised Land," and maybe James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins in "Hitchcock." Finally, we doubt that Ian McKellen will repeat his Gandalf nomination for "The Hobbit," but don't rule out a make-up nomination for Albert Brooks after the actor missed out for "Drive" -- assuming he stabs fewer people in the eye in Judd Apatow's "This Is 40," it looks like a nice little role, if the film delivers.

If we had to pick five right now, they'd be the ones below. Who of the hopefuls do you think has the best chance? And who would you vote for if you were an Academy member? Let us know in the comments section below.

Russell Crowe - "Les Misérables"
Robert De Niro - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Leonardo DiCaprio - "Django Unchained"
Philip Seymour Hoffman - "The Master"
Matthew McConaughey - "Magic Mike"
 

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26 Comments

  • Miguel | October 9, 2012 9:28 PMReply

    Phillip Seymour Hoffman is superbly phenomenal, a truly hypnotic charismatic in "The Master." And I wouldn't necessarily exclude Phoenix from attaining the coveted Best Actor. Watch "The Master" what a performance of feral magnetism and deranged lunacy. I'm straying towards P.T.A in the acting categories this year.

  • Robb | October 10, 2012 2:04 AM

    "Superbly phenomenal"? Holy redundancies, Batman. Miguel, you bozo.

  • randall gerber | October 8, 2012 11:35 PMReply

    no one can beat philip seymour hoffman ,maybe leonardo dicaprio but he'a(hoffman) too damn good.best supporting nominees are:arkin,crowe,deniro,dicaprio,hoffman.

  • Mike | October 8, 2012 7:37 PMReply

    I know the voters would not probably think about the distributor studios when they voted, but will they nominate three supporting actors from one studio, The Weinstein Company: De Niro, DiCaprio, and Hoffman.

    Regarding De Niro, I might be biased because I don't really like him and I haven't seen him in Silver Linings Playbook, but I just hope that he earns his nomination because he's that good not just because he's everyone's favorite actor and tailgating in an Oscar contender movie.

  • eduardo | October 8, 2012 3:55 PMReply

    not sure on McCounaghey yet... it's the kind of performance that Globes and maybe even SAG could end up loving, but AMPAS? =/

  • Sean C. | October 8, 2012 2:42 PMReply

    I think Russell Crowe is one to watch. If he impresses sufficiently in the singing department, the novelty will get him a lot of notice.

  • kim | October 7, 2012 9:00 PMReply

    Jude Law in Anna Karenina his mild mannered and restrained performance is simply incredible.

  • frencheagermoviebuff | October 7, 2012 11:01 AMReply

    Sorry, three mistakes : "Too early to hope someting", "I wouldn't say so", "who knows in this time of year".

  • Frencheagermoviebuff | October 7, 2012 10:55 AMReply

    It's of course too early to hope anything for Leo DiCaprio's performance, because the movie hasn't been seen yet, but I really wish him on the final list. I mean, he's one of the best in the business, not only right now but for a long time and since his first roles. Some think he's overrated, I would'nt say so (even if I wasn't that impressed by his turns in "The Departed" and "Inception"). But he's still a magnificent comedian, who really needed a change after all that depressing and dead wives' movies. So we'll see, "Django Unchained"'s villain could give him some new credit.

    I'm french, but that doesn't stop me to think giving Jujardin an award, despite his relatively limited talent and poor career before "The Artist" and over men like Leo or Gary Oldman, makes me want to puke !

    Leo is, as he said someday, a "lucky bastard", with extraordinary range and charming I would add. Well, not lucky in the world of the Academy Awards. He was not even nominated last year, when the lead group was not that great (I confess I didn't see the Demian Bachir's film, but Oldman deserved a oscar, by far in my opinion). And he should have won in 1994 for "What's eating Gilbert Grape?" in the supporting actors' category, which additional was one of the most tremendous list of the all AA's history : Malkovitch, Postlethwaite, Fiennes... What he did before his 18 is miraculous and one of the most beautiful things that I saw done by an actor !

    I doubt he will win over PSH, who I also adore, or De Niro, but who knows in the time of the year ! Sorry it was long, kiss from France.

  • Alan | October 6, 2012 9:39 PMReply

    I know these performances have no chance, but Valeriu Andriuta in 'Beyond the Hills', Tadashi Okuno in 'Like Someone in Love', Thomas Haden Church in 'Killer Joe' and Niels Arestrup in 'Our Children' were all phenomenal. Of the supporting performances I have seen this year, these were the most impressive, with Okuno and Church being range and nuance to potentially one-note roles. Then again, I don't quite get what was all that impressive about Dwight Henry and William H. Macy in their performances, despite their critical accolades: they were fine, but let down by the limitations of their roles (the former seemingly being told to SHOUT 'HUSHPUPPY' every five seconds, and the later an obvious audience surrogate, just there to ask all the right questions in a sloppy screenplay).

  • Lezlie | October 6, 2012 4:10 AMReply

    I would vote for DiCaprio. He's an excellent actor, and I really think he should have won for The Aviator. And, he wasn't nominated for his work in The Departed, which in my opinion is superior to his (also great) performance in Blood Diamond. If there wasn't that stupid rule that a person can't get nominated more than once in the same category in a year, he might as well would have benn nominated for both (although, I would still give Withaker the win that year). So yes, I'm really hoping for Leonardo.

  • Thais Andrade | October 6, 2012 2:14 AMReply

    I think all these names are likely to appear but Matthew McConaughey for Magic Mike is just such a long shot.

  • Prize | October 6, 2012 12:24 AMReply

    I can see de Niro stealing it from psh. Having seen spb at tiff he is very good and it is like others have said his most engaged performance in a decade but not as transformative as psh.

  • Joseph | October 5, 2012 11:38 PMReply

    That would be an extraordinary supporting actor category with all five of them being typically leading men.

  • jimmiescoffee | October 5, 2012 8:11 PMReply

    since you mentioned it, dammit if 'Lawless' hasn't been underrated and unfairly dismissed

  • Manuela Ferreira | October 5, 2012 4:25 PMReply

    I think it´s time for Leonardo DiCaprio to win something after so many great performances.It seams the critics each year decide to postpone to the next occasion.Is it because they know he will be nominated again and again and again?And the Academy always follows the trend of each Award season.How unfair is this?

  • Alan | October 6, 2012 9:28 PM

    In Empire Magazine, Postlethwaite questioned the validity of giving the award to Jones over Fiennes and DiCaprio. Just sayin'.

  • d | October 5, 2012 7:18 PM

    Critics don't vote at the Oscars, and he's only been nominated three times (not "each year"). Personally, I can't think of a DiCaprio performance that I wish he'd won for. The Aviator performance over Jamie Foxx in Ray? OK, fine, but over Clint Eastwood? Blood Diamond: over Forest Whitaker? What's Eating Gilbert Grape: over Jones, Postlethwaite, and Fiennes?

  • shark | October 5, 2012 2:24 PMReply

    I think Bruce Willis was brilliant in Moonrise Kingdom, and I hope Focus Features campaigns for him, HARD.

  • d | October 5, 2012 1:16 PMReply

    I really don't get why he'll be in the supporting category. Besides the fact that he has a better chance at winning.

  • J.T.Galloway | October 5, 2012 11:39 AMReply

    Frank Grillo in The Grey. That's the problem with award season, all the Oscar baiting films are released and the years early, great performances are forgotten. Neeson for best actor too for The Grey.

  • Mike | October 6, 2012 4:30 PM

    JT I was just going to post exactly what you said. Neeson and Grillo were both great. And Willis was also pretty good in Moonrise. What about Liotta in Killing Them Softly? Haven't seen it but I was hoping he'd finally get some Oscar love this year. Any chance?

  • anna | October 5, 2012 11:21 AMReply

    I agree with the list but in my opinion Matthew McConaughey deserves a nomination for Killer Joe instead of Magic Mike. He was excelent in both but his performance in Killer Joe is probably one of the best of the year.

  • AS | October 5, 2012 2:33 PM

    I second that.

  • Tino | October 5, 2012 11:11 AMReply

    Tommy Lee Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens not Ulysses S Grant.

  • NOT TINO | October 5, 2012 12:03 PM

    I second this, Jared Harris is playing Ulysses S. Grant

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