This year’s Best Supporting Actor race features a truly interesting batch of performers ranging from seasoned veterans (Max von Sydow, Christopher Plummer) to popular up-and-comers (Jonah Hill). Despite the eclectic choice of nominees, it looks to be a fairly predictable year for this category given the intense amount of attention bestowed on one performance in particular.
 

Jonah Hill in Moneyball
Like many, I was left scratching my head when it was announced that Jonah Hill would co-star with Brad Pitt in Moneyball.  How could a comic actor, who rose to fame playing zany characters in films like Knocked Up and Superbad, play it straight in the baseball drama? We were all surprised when Hill turned in a subdued and thoughtful performance as Pitt’s innovative assistant. However, I think much of the acclaim given to Hill was a result of our expectations being so low. While it may be a solid supporting performance, it is not an Oscar worthy one.
 

Nick Nolte in Warrior
I have always felt that Warrior was one of those films that slipped through the cracks. Despite it’s rather clichéd storyline about two brothers seeking redemption in the world of mixed martial arts, the film was undeniably entertaining and featured a trio of knockout performances (pun intended) by stars Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte. Unfortunately, no one saw it. With that, I was surprised and pleased to see Nick Nolte’s name pop up on the nomination list for his role as Hardy and Edgerton’s alcoholic father. While I think the nomination is warranted, I highly doubt he will take home the statue given the film’s low-profile.
 

Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
To be frank, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was just a labored, manipulative snooze-fest that strived so hard to be an Oscar contender. I swear Academy voters gave the film its two nominations (Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor) out of sympathy. While Max von Sydow has turned in brilliant performances in the past, his turn as the mute, world-wise stranger in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is not one of them. This is really no fault to von Sydow. The character was just too one-dimensional. However, there has been quite a bit of buzz about von Sydow possibly winning the Oscar as a tribute to his illustrious career, so don’t count him out.
 

Kenneth Branagh in My Week With Marilyn
Casting Kenneth Branagh as legendary stage and screen actor Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn was as inspired as it was obvious, with both actors being best known for their adaptations of Shakespeare’s work. Branagh gave a charming performance but it seems as though he has faded into the background, with all the attention centered around Michelle Williams’ portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. I just don’t see him rising up from obscurity to take home the award.
 

Christopher Plummer in Beginners
Like a fine wine, Christopher Plummer just keeps getting better with age in terms of his acting. After spending the majority of his lengthy career tackling many diverse projects, Plummer really hit his stride in the mid-90’s, becoming one of Hollywood’s most reliable supporting actors. Playing a distant, elderly father who comes out of the closet following his wife’s death in Beginners, Christopher Plummer delivered once again. It was a deep, touching, and funny portrait, well worthy of the acclaim it has received. I think this award is Plummer’s for the taking.

 

Not surprisingly, my prediction for the winner of Best Supporting Actor is Christopher Plummer. Based on the strength of his performance and the fact that it has already won him no less than a dozen awards, including a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild, it would be a colossal upset if Plummer went home empty handed come Oscar night. I doubt that will happen, but anything is possible, right?

 

Road to the Oscars Series

January 27: Best Live Action Short – Kit Bowen

January 31: Best Animated Short – Savanna New

February 1: Best Documentary Short – Christa Youngpeter

February 2: Best Documentary – Dantzler Smith

February 3: Best Foreign Language Film – Steve Neumann

February 4: Best Visual Effects – Michael Benedict

February 5: Best Sound Editing – Michael Benedict

February 6: Best Sound Mixing – Joseph Doherty

February 7: Best Makeup – Katie Mae Peters

February 8: Best Costume Design – Jax Russo

February 9: Best Art Direction – Scott Youngbauer

February 10: Best Film Editing – Michael Benedict

February 11: Best Cinematography – Scott Youngbauer

February 12: Best Original Score – Adam Spunberg

February 13: Best Original Song – Adam Spunberg and Savanna New

February 14: Best Animated Feature Film – Steve Neumann

February 15: Best Adapted Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 16: Best Original Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 17: Best Supporting Actor – Joseph Doherty

February 18: Best Supporting Actress – Angela Stern

February 20: Best Actress – Andrew Payne

February 21: Best Actor – Kit Bowen

February 22: Best Director – Andrew Payne

February 23: Best Picture – Kit Bowen