Monday, March 10, 2014

A Year in Advance Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Supporting Actor

I'll be the first to admit that, historically, this is my worst category at predicting so far in advance. It's always hard to know exactly which roles will land, how parts will be campaigned, and, most importantly, if there's enough there to warrant a nomination. The 5 men I've decided on consist of 3 previous winners in this category, a veteran character actor that seems to have a buzz-worthy role in a hit from Sundance, and a relatively new movie star trying to prove his worth as an actor by scoring his first Oscar nomination.

Best Supporting Actor
Benicio Del Toro Inherent Vice
J.K. Simmons Whiplash
Channing Tatum Foxcatcher
Christopher Walken Jersey Boys
Christoph Waltz Big Eyes

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Benicio Del Toro Inherent Vice

The Role: Del Torro teams up with Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel. He plays a character named Sauncho Smilax, the attorney to main character Doc (Phoenix), who is called upon time and time again to get his friend and client out of scraps.   
Why He'll Be Nominated: Del Toro is just one of those actors that I tend to always choose for nominations. He's so talented that I feel anytime he's involved with something, it's worth taking notice. Nominated twice before (and a winner for Traffic), it seems the Academy likes him as well (although, he hasn't been nominated in over 10 years). I haven't read the novel yet, but hear the part he plays is relatively small–with the potential to steal scenes. Anderson has apparently said the film feels like a Cheech and Chong movie. If anyone could make the Academy take notice of a stoner flick, it's him. Hopefully, Del Toro's turn in the film will be just the sort of tasty treat the Academy will crave.

J.K. Simmons Whiplash

The Role: Reprising his role from the award-winng short on which the film is based, Simmons plays a hard-ass, profanity spewing...jazz instructor that challenges Miles Teller to be the best damn jazz drummer he can be.
Why He'll Be Nominated: Whiplash, which was already a hit at Sundance last year when it won the Jury prize for best short film, was a big winner at the festival again this year when it took home the top Audience and Grand Jury prize for dramatic film. Almost all of the reviews have singled out Simmons for his performance in the film as a definite standout. The actor, who has been working steadily for years in television and commercials and been giving solid supporting turns in Oscar nominated films like Juno and Up in the Air seems to have finally found a role that allows him to shine. If the film's Sundance success translates to wider audiences, it seems that Simmons could be looking at his first Oscar nomination. 

Channing Tatum Foxcatcher

The Role: Taking on the real-life role of Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz, Tatum plays the brother of fellow Olympian and murder victim Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo). Dave was shot by millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carrell) on his estate where the brothers trained. The film is based on the autobiography that Mark wrote about the event.
Why He'll Be Nominated: Already named the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine, it seems that being just a pretty face (and abs and ass and...) just isn't enough for Channing Tatum. Although he's shown himself to be a talented actor in both comedy and drama (he's especially good in his Indie Spirit nominated role in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints), it seems that tackling this part could bring him the kind of respect afforded other handsome male stars, like Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise before him, that had to prove their worth with the Academy. 21 Jump Street co-star Jonah Hill scored his first Oscar nomination working with director Bennett Miller. Perhaps the director will be the key to scoring Tatum's first nomination as well. Just imagine the ads if the two make a third Jump Street film...  

Christopher Walken Jersey Boys

The Role: The Oscar winner plays Gyp DeCarlo, the New Jersey crime boss that had ties to The Four Seasons (the real DeCarlo was also involved with Frank Sinatra). This is the film version of the Tony award-winning musical based on the lives of the popular singing group.
Why He'll Be Nominated: Although this particular role was not an awards magnet when the show was on stage, the reason I think Walken could score here is for the simple fact that he's Christopher Walken. This category tends to go for performances from seasoned actors and Walken, being directed by Clint Eastwood, and the only known "name" in the film could be the kind of performance that the Academy goes for. I'm just hoping that this performance is as good as his charmingly sinister role as the tap-dancing pimp in Pennies From Heaven, which should have brought a nomination in this category years ago...

Christoph Waltz Big Eyes

The Role: Playing opposite Oscar hopeful Amy Adams in this Tim Burton film, Waltz plays "artist" Walter Keane. Keane became a celebrity in the 60s due to the popular paintings he claimed ownership for that were, in fact, created by his wife.
Why He'll Be Nominated: After winning a pair of Oscars in this category for roles that were arguably leads, it seems that Waltz may find himself with a third nomination (it would be his first for a non-Tarantino film) for a another role that could potentially be a lead as well. We'll have to wait to see whom exactly the focus of the film is on. It sounds like more of Margaret Keane's story to me. And if Harvey Weinstein wants to make the campaign all about getting Amy a win, it seems logical that putting Waltz in supporting would put the focus more on her. Waltz who seems to take delight in playing villainous roles, could find himself rewarded once again for taking on this unlikable figure. 

Other Possibilities: Josh Brolin Inherent Vice, Johnny Depp Into the Woods, Robert Duvall The Judge, Garrett Hedlund Unbroken, Mark Ruffalo Foxcatcher

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