Last year, Christopher Plummer became the older Oscar winner and kept alive the trend of actors with “Chris” in their name winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale and Christoph Waltz) before him. Waltz will have to win again to keep that going in this year’s competitive list of nominees.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
- (10%) Alan Arkin – “Argo”
- (25%) Robert De Niro – “Silver Linings Playbook”
- (5%) Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Master”
- (35%) Tommy Lee Jones – “Lincoln”
- (25%) Christoph Waltz – “Django Unchained”
Prediction: Tommy Lee Jones
This category has been the easiest acting category to predict for the last few years, but it’s the tightest race at next weekend’s Oscars to be sure.
After BAFTA and Golden Globe wins, Christoph Waltz has been the most rewarded of the three actors to this point. Given that the Globes are also an international group, it’s clear that worldwide audiences preferred Waltz’s performance in “Django Unchained.” Winning would make Waltz two for two. It’s clear the Academy loves him, but it’s not clear that the Academy loves “Django” as much as other awards bodies have.
Waltz has the muscle of the Weinsteins behind him, the most notorious (and deservedly so) Oscar campaigners, but Harvey and Bob had to make some choices, namely which horse to back. They went with “Silver Linings Playbook” this year, which gives Robert De Niro just as good of a chance to win though he’s received only one award for this film thus far, from the Hollywood Film Festival.
We saw how the Weinsteins campaigned to finally get Meryl Streep back on the podium after losing 12 times in a row after her 1984 win for “Sophie’s Choice.” The approach has been similar with De Niro, who hasn’t won since 1981 for “Raging Bull.” The difference, of course, is that De Niro has only been nominated twice between that win and this year’s nomination, not 12 times.
The other favorite is Screen Actors Guild Award winner Tommy Lee Jones. This is Jones’ fourth nomination and would be his second win after he earned the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “The Fugitive.” His portrayal of fiery congressman Thaddeus Stevens was both hilarious and moving thanks to Tony Kushner’s script. The SAG and the Academy have been on the same page in this category since 2007 and a total of 11/18 times.
Many prognosticators wonder if the success of “Argo” could trickle down to its lone acting nominee, Alan Arkin. In most situations with a veteran actor like that, you’d say yes, but Arkin already took home his “twilight years Oscar” (as terrible as that sounds) for “Little Miss Sunshine” after the Academy ignored him for nearly 40 years (he was nominated in 1967, 1969 and then 2007 when he won). I thought Arkin was extremely deserving of his nomination for playing a convincing Hollywood producer with a no-nonsense attitude.
In such a competitive Oscar season, “The Master” has been on the outside looking in. Lack of attention on the film will likely get the film’s three Oscar-nominated performances completely overlooked by voters. Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of those acting vets with a golden statue already who will simply not be recognized in this chaos. His film is also a Weinstein Co. film, so give his votes to De Niro.
De Niro winning would certainly be a campaign coup. You’d have to hope that voters wouldn’t be suckered in by the idea of handing him a third Oscar just because of his storied career and consider what kind of work he has pursued in the 32 years since he last delivered an acceptance speech.
All these actors have won Oscars, so there isn’t that angle to sell voters on. It will be interesting to see where the Academy goes.