2013 Oscars: Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin (Argo)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Yesterday I talked about how surprised I was that the Best Supporting Actress nominee stable contained all repeat nominees; that is to say each one of them had at least two Oscars nominations there. What’s even more surprising than the Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Oscars showing the same thing is that these five men have combined for a staggering 21 nominations and six wins. Not to mention that each of these five has actually WON a gold statue at a previous Oscars night.

Christoph Waltz is the only member of this group with less than four nominations (he has “just” two), and it is his second consecutive nomination for his second consecutive Quentin Tarantino film (something of an odd combination, don’t you think?). Waltz previously won for his brilliant portrayal of Hans Landa in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds.

Waltz got to play the good guy in Django Unchained this year, which featured some of the best, most outrageous and well developed performances of the year. Waltz was almost interchangeable in the Oscars nominations with filmmates Leonardo DiCaprio and/or Samuel L. Jackson. As good as Waltz was, I believe that Jackson actually had the best supporting role in the film. He stole the show every time he showed up on the screen.

Like Waltz, Arkin could have also easily lost out to another Argo cast member in John Goodman (Goodman also could have been nominated for his scene busting turn in Flight as Harling Mays, the “devil”). The two had great chemistry, were downright hilarious and if the phrase “Argo fuck yourself” becomes part of the Hollywood lexicon, you can thank the two of them.

Unfortunately, neither of the above are really in the hunt this year. This seems to be a three-way race between Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones and Philip Seymour Hoffman (15 nominations, 4 wins between them).

Of the three, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is considered the dark horse. The Master is, at best, a polarizing film and it’s hard for those of us who hated the film to separate our feelings from the strong performances (which were excellent across the board). Hoffman was excellent as always, but I’ve seen better from him (Capote for sure, Charlie Wilson’s War, Moneyball, even Jack Goes Boating which no one saw). He won’t get enough votes here, but supporters of the film always want to keep him in play, as it is The Master’s best shot at Oscars glory.

De Niro has been phoning it in the last few years; re-watching Goodfellas the other night brought that point home for me. He’s always fine, but you look at his roles in Being Flynn, Limitless and Little Fockers, and you just know that there is something missing. Maybe it was the roles he was being offered, because Pat Sr. in Silver Linings was a great role for him; a perfect blend of legitimately crazy, concerned father and business man, all played to near perfection by a reborn master of the trade.

Likewise, Tommy Lee Jones blew his competition off the screen as Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln. We’re used to seeing the cranky Jones in like-minded roles, but he really brought the thunder and delivered some of the best political debates that have ever graced the silver screen. In a film where Daniel Day-Lewis should have carried the entire thing on his own, Jones not only added something to the proceedings, but actually up-staged his co-star almost to the point where Day-Lewis could be passed over for Oscars gold.

It’s close, and it’d be hard to argue with either veteran, De Niro or Jones. The Hollywood press seems to be leaning towards Jones, and so am I.

Who will win: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Who should win: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln