Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Oscar Talk: The Supporting Men (and a look at the Spirit Awards)

I don’t care for the Supporting Actor category. It’s odd; I can’t put my finger on something that makes it less interesting than the others. Sure, every now and then a Chris Cooper or Morgan Freeman does little for me but it’s more often than not made up for by the Benicio Del Toros or Tim Robbins of the world. Perhaps it’s the fact that the last three years in this category have been filled with undeserving nominees (paging Matt Damon) and less than eclectic winners (paging George Clooney and Morgan Freeman). The Independent Spirit Awards have announced their nominees, and their claim to fame may be found in the fact that they’re usually one of the bodies who announces their nominees just as the seasons begins to pick up steam. I don't think that their list of nominees in any category, this one in particular, is the end-game. 
The supporting category is often where aging thespians finally get their due (Robbins, Freeman, Broadbent). I’m not inherently against wins for a good career. In the case of Henry Fonda, Oscar-less or not he was still deserving and that’s the way I’m feeling about Ed Harris. The Way Back is set to make a qualifying run in December for the Oscars. I’ve had my eye on this one for some-time. Harris along with Saoirse Ronan and Collin Farrell seems like one I’d be interested in. Logically, Harris seems like a real contender. I’d have given him the Oscar in 1998 or 2003 and depending on what day of the week he’d give Javier Bardem (Before Night Falls) a run for his money in 2000. Even if Weir’s drama doesn’t take off in any other major categories I can see a nod for Harris sticking The Spirit Awards didn't nominate him, but I this early in the game I don't think that's going to hurt him.
Geoffrey Rush is another stalwart who seems assured a nod. He’s been nominated alongside Harris in 1998 and 2000 and he has an apparently solid role in Best Picture contender The King’s Speech. Rush seems like the sort of person who’s perennially nominated for the Oscar though he’s only one once (1996 for Shine). That sense of ubiquity could prevent him from actually winning, but he’s probably assured a nod. From Harris to Rush we’ve got two actors who had strong showings in 2000 and we’ve got more actors who gave strong performances that year to add to the lot. Depending on who you ask Mark Ruffalo and Christian Bale should have made the Oscar lineup for You Can Count On Me and American Psycho - I’d have nominated Ruffalo in a heartbeat. This year Ruffalo’s got The Kids Are All Right. It was a summer hit, and it’s not at the top of the tier – but he looks to be a solid contender and Bale’s been attracting praise for David O'Russell’s boxing drama The Fighter.
I gave Jeremy Renner best-in-show notices for The Town though that wasn’t an indicator of much since I wasn’t particularly blown away by it. It seems Legendary Pictures is trying to sneak him into the race. The fact that The Town has been so critically acclaimed does surprise me a bit, if precursors support it he could be the perennial “fifth-nominee” but I’m reticent. Andrew Garfield comes to mind as someone who could sidle their way into the race. The Social Network is looking like a stronger contender as the days go by and he does emerge with the most sympathetic category. Add that to the fact that his star is definitely on the rise could see him getting pulled into the category. It’s not uncommon for well received ensemble flicks to pick up a single acting nod in this category (think The Departed or Crash). As much as Eisenberg impressed me I’m not sure he’s on his way to a nod. Justin Timberlake keeps popping up, and though he impresses me it doesn’t seem like a logical choice unless AMPAS go batshit for Fincher...I don’t see that happening.Then there's Get Low which could Robert Duvall's ticket back to the Oscars. Bill Murray apparently has a plum role, and I'm thinking if he moves from the Spirit Nomination on to the SAG he could easily become a potential spoiler in the race.
Predictions (for now)
Andrew Garfield The Social Network
Ed Harris The Way Back
Billy Murray Get Low
Mark Ruffalo The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush The King's Speech
Alternate: Christian Bale The Fighter
If it were up to me I’d thrown in Rhys Ifans from Greenberg and Michael Shannon from The Runaways two supporting performances from earlier in the year who should be remembered but probably won’t. I'm a bit shocked that after all the love for Greenberg the Spirit Awards still ignored Rhys. Shame.
The Independent Spirit nominated Bill Murray in Get Low, Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right, John Hawkes in Winter's Bone, Samuel L. Jackson in Mother & Child and John Ortiz in Jack Goes Boating. See the full list HERE.


Tom Clift said...

Peter over at /Film is tipping Christian Bale as a sure thing

Robert said...

Oh I love your mentions of Ifans and Shannon. I also loved those two performances, but sadly they will probably get snubbed. I must say though, I'm really happy Samuel L. Jackson got a spirit nom for Mother and Child - I thought he did some really nice work in there and I'm glad someone is recognizing it.