The number of great performances that make up the field for best actor is ridiculous, but the quality in supporting isn’t that far behind. With a couple of resurgent performances from past winners in the category, fresh faces looking for nom number one, and the long predicted front runner and his ever shrinking lead, all bets are off and anyone one of these ten can still make a run for the gold.
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
It has long seemed like Philip Seymour Hoffman’s race to lose with his powerful and imposing performance of the leader of a cult, wonderfully juxtaposed to Joaquin Phoenix’s own performance. However while the work remains superb, the film is looking less and less favorable, and Hoffman faces the possible bad luck of dropping along with it.
He should still be considered the favorite though. The Academy loves him (rightfully so), and they also love to use the supporting categories to honor the films that may not get the top honors. Also Hoffman is likely to pick up some critic awards for his performance, and those always help. A nomination is still safe, but the win is a little cloudier than it was a few months ago.
Leonardo DiCaprio – Django Unchained
The last great mystery performance of 2012 comes from none other than Leo. There are rumors that Tarantino is still editing the film, even if that is not the case, the first screening is still a week away. However the hype surrounding this performance is still really strong and DiCaprio deserves to be considered a legitimate threat.
Actors eat up the juicy characters Tarantino is able to create in all his films, and DiCaprio is one of the best actors working today, so until the actual performance proves otherwise, you can’t really overlook the possibility if it all working out in the end.
Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis is getting all the praise for “Lincoln”, but my money for the best performance in the film would go to Tommy Lee Jones portrayal of abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. He steals nearly every seen that he is in, and a couple of those are with Day-Lewis.
A past winner in this same category for “The Fugitive”, Jones knows how to really make a role shine with minimal screen time. He’s intimidating, driven, and a master of the dry humor in this film, so his seat at the Dolby theatre is probably already reserved.
Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
Robert De Niro is hands down one of the best actors of all time, famous for movies like “Taxi Driver”, “Raging Bull”, and “The Deer Hunter”. However, since “Meet the Parents” in 2000, his choice of roles hasn’t exactly been top tier, closer to bottom feeding. De Niro makes his comeback though in the fantastic “Silver Linings Playbook”.
As an overly superstitious Philadelphia Eagle fan (a fact I can particularly relate too) trying to accept and relate with his somewhat unstable son, De Niro gives a funny and touching performance as a man who just wants the two things he loves the most, his son and his team, to be with him and at their best. De Niro hasn’t shown this brass of acting in a long time, and therefore looks to earn his first nomination since “Cape Fear”.
Eddie Redmayne – Les Miserables
The word is finally out on “Les Mis” and the surprise of its unveiling happened when one of the lesser known actors of this star studded film is said to come out and wow people. Eddie Redmayne seems to have surpassed his co-star Russell Crowe as the likely member of “Les Mis” to score a best supporting actor nom.
The young Brit has one other film that American’s will know of, and that is “My Week with Marilyn”, but this appears to be his true coming out party as he sings, extremely well it seems, and offers some strong ethos to this show chalk full of it. The only thing holding him back is the fact that he is so young, and the idea that maybe his time is still yet to come.
Alan Arkin – Argo
There was a lot of strong praise for Alan Arkin’s wise cracking producer when “Argo” was first released, and he definitely has some of the best lines of the movie. That being the case, his position really is a little light. “Argo” is not a film where the performances really come out and grab you. It’s strong, quality work from everyone, but “Argo” won’t drum up huge support for individual performances, so Arkin can easily fall.
Matthew McConaughey – Magic Mike
His position in this race had almost been forgotten like a lot of performances from movies that don’t get released during the fall season. But much like his career, a big boost has come in the recent days. An Independent Spirit Award nomination in this same category for this performance gets him back on the radar, and reminds everyone how hot he has been lately.
Michael Pena – End of Watch
A fellow nominee for the Independent Spirit Award, veteran character actor Michael Pena gets his first real awards recognition for a surprise hit “End of Watch”. As a cop going up against a powerful drug cartel in south Los Angeles, Pena has been getting a lot of praise and could slip into that tricky last spot.
Russell Crowe – Les Miserables
The biggest question about Crowe in this role was would he be able to pull off the singing next to the likes of Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. The answer appears to be simply, yes. He is not the revelation that his co-star Redmayne is in the film, but the Academy likes him, and this is an area we’ve never seen him in before, so some kudos could come because of that.
Samuel L. Jackson – Django Unchained
With Christoph Waltz being pushed as a lead, his spot became vacated but was easily filled with another Tarantino staple, the legendary Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson’s lone nomination came from another Tarantino flick, “Pulp Fiction”, and he looks to be a memorable part of the film, and that sometimes is enough to get votes.
So, here’s where everyone stands:
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman
2. Leonardo DiCaprio
3. Tommy Lee Jones
4. Robert De Niro
5. Eddie Redmayne
6. Alan Arkin
7. Matthew McConaughey
8. Michael Pena
9. Russell Crowe
10. Samuel L. Jackson
Next are the leading ladies, and the race there has gotten really interesting in the past week.