This Academy Awards rundown is the first of several that I’ll be doing for the major acting categories, Best Director, and Best Picture. Definitely follow this blog on either Twitter, Facebook, or WordPress to keep up!
Additionally, this list is in order of least to most likely to win, and per usual, are accompanied by gifs. The next in this series will be Best Supporting Actress. Enjoy!
Woody Harrelson: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
I love Woody Harrelson. In fact, I still believe he should have won the award when he was nominated for The Messenger (though it’s very difficult to argue against Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Bastards). However, this was by far the biggest shock of all the nominees, and a turn taken away from Michael Stuhlbarg and Armie Hammer (both far more deserving). Harrelson might be in Three Billboards for all of 40 minutes? Additionally, his character was thin with little weight other than a cancer diagnosis (which sounds like a lot, but isn’t in this case). He was the supporting to the supporting actors (there’s wood floating down the Chicago river that has more importance than Harrelson’s character). I’m just not convinced that a few dozen actors couldn’t have turned in the same performance.
Christopher Plummer: All the Money in the World
Admittedly, the making of All the Money in the World might be more interesting than the film, but Christopher Plummer’s performance carries it. His balance of austerity, warmth, and flights of grandeur take what could have been a one-dimensional character and make him into the living embodiment of Scrooge McDuck. And while the noise around the film should have no bearing on the recognition, it’s difficult to ignore the task that Plummer (the only past winner in this category) was faced with. Having to cover for the duly shamed Spacey, Plummer had almost no prep time and was given less than two weeks to shoot his parts. He does more in 10 days than most actors accomplish in three months. However, barring a complete shock, he will not win his second Oscar.
Richard Jenkins: The Shape of Water
I think Richard Jenkins has a real shot to win this. There was no indication from the SAG or Golden Globes that he could win, but The Shape of Water has 13 nominations from the Academy, and the film is bound to hit on some. The fact that it has 13 nominations, and Jenkins was able to snag a surprise nom. (also the Oscars’ largest voting bloc is comprised of actors), says that his performance may have wider appeal than previously thought. And it should. Jenkins probably has the most developed character in the film: a homosexual artist who represents the most human character. While Hawkins is a saving angel, Spencer is the cliche trusting friend, and Shannon is a monster of a human being, Jenkins is the, “Gee that sucks, but I can’t do anything about it” person most of us revert to (somewhere Sarah McLachlan is hanging us all with acoustic guitar strings). He probably won’t win, but if you’re looking for a viable upset, then I’d choose Jenkins.
Willem Dafoe: The Florida Project
As I type this, I’m still bitter and sadden that The Florida Project just didn’t show up with more nominations. Sean Baker was likely squeezed out because of a heavy Best Director field, and the film lost its momentum by early December, negating its chances at Best Picture. Unfortunately for Dafoe, the heavy favorite until a month ago, his fortunes will likely sink with the film. It’s unfair, but the Academy isn’t in line with the critics. However, if Dafoe were to magically hold on it’ll be for two reasons: 1. Three Billboards is sinking too (maybe hurting Sam Rockwell), 2. he deserves it. Playing the superintendent of the Magic Kingdom motel, Dafoe gives shape to a fairly flat character. He molds Bobby into a warm, protective, cantankerous “yes man.” And most importantly, he makes the most of his screen time. The scene where he catches a pedophile stalking the motel’s children is still the best scene of the year. This might be Dafoe’s last chance at an Oscar, so he’s my sentimental pick.
Sam Rockwell: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
I love Sam Rockwell. I hope he racks up a boatload of awards. But this is a classic case of a deserving actor being rewarded for underwhelming work. When I say “underwhelming,” I don’t mean Rockwell’s performance is, I’m referring to his character. I would much rather have seen Rockwell rewarded for Moon or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. His role as Dixon, while well acted, is flawed and problematic for well-known reasons. And while the morality of the character should not affect the quality of the performance, it may become difficult for some voters to ignore the obvious backlash. Still, the largest bloc of voters in the Academy is the actors, so I believe that Rockwell will be rewarded more for his large performance rather than spurned for the morally murky eccentricities of his character.
I’m predicting Rockwell to hold on and be your Best Supporting Actor this year, with Dafoe being a sentimental pick, and Jenkins being the split vote pick.
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Photo Credit: HollywoodReporter