Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Bring on the Men; Incoherent Oscar: Actor and Supporting Actor

I must admit a general disinterest in both actor categories even though they seem to be polar opposites in predicting. Best Actor is all but wrapped up whereas Supporting Actor seems significantly undecided. Let’s observe.

Supporting Actor Nominees: Alan Arkin in Argo; Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook; Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master; Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln; Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

Actor Nominees: Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook; Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln; Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables; Denzel Washington in Flight

Let's examine.

Denzel Washington and Alan Arkin
Both former winners, I’d wager that both these gents are #5 in their respective categories. Critical support and word-of-mouth secured Denzel’s nomination early on and Arkin easily turned into the acting representative of probable Best Picture winner Argo. What’s interesting, though, is that even as my #5 prediction there’s always a possibility for Arkin to surprise on Oscar night. A possibility, regardless of how small, which is seems impossible in the case of Washington.

Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Conceivably, either of the Master men earning a trophy would not be outlandish. The film is kindest to its actors and both give impressive performances. In another year, one look at Joaquin’s uncomfortable deportment or Hoffman’s oily charm might be able to seduce voters. It seems like that Hoffman will win a second Oscar one day, perhaps if his film had earned more love but it does not seem likely to be this year. Lucidly, I do not consider Phoenix a threat and yet I wonder if some surprise must occur in this category a win for him would make sense in the oddest of ways. And, Freddie is such a striking role and performance.

Hugh Jackman and Christoph Waltz
Here’s where things get potentially knotty. First Waltz, with the BAFTA and Globe win I suppose having him at #3 seems unlikely, and yet with this very strange season at work I feel things may turn out more indecipherable than we imagine. I’m not projecting, I’m not enamoured with his work but he’s easily my second favourite of his nominees but unless I get a change of heart I feel confident in not predicting him for the win. It’s the same with Jackman who, although on with a Globe, I can see winning in some capacity but at this point it seems to be a virtual impossibility.

Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro
Father and son. I’d imagine that Cooper could be a spoiler if there was a kinder history of awarding men in romantic comedies with Oscars. And, on one hand, the mental health angle suggests an aspect of the performance awards voters seem to be fond of. Still, I’m doubting of predicting awards on role check-points. The definitive lead of a film much loved by actors and securing a place as a “real” actor transitioning from commercial fare there’s a nice story. Strong, but I suspect not strong enough for the win. De Niro’s story is strong, too, and I vacillate on whether I think he will win. Welcoming him back to the fold is an opportunity I suspect many voters might endorse.

Daniel Day Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones
But Daniel’s Oscar seems like one of the few sure-bets of the year, right? But what of Tommy? Remember that “surprise” nomination for In the Valley of Elah? Jones is no stranger to goodwill from the Academy voters even if he seems especially sullen throughout awards season. Thaddeus is as much an “important” character to the narrative as Lincoln and it’s a performance one could believably root behind…but does he win?

Best Actor, Prediction: Daniel Day Lewis
Alternate: Bradley Cooper, unlikely though. They tend to be kinder to their female actors moving from commercial to awards fare.

Best Supporting Actor, Prediction: I’m wary of predicting De Niro with no precursor support and yet that’s where my gut is now.
Alternate: I could very well exchange him from Jones or Waltz. I’ll decide within the next two weeks

Am I over thinking supporting actor? Is De Niro still a contender? Is Best Actor Daniel’s to lose?

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