It seems a moot point to write a column about the Supporting Actor and Actress categories this Oscar season. The race on both fronts is pretty much set on both fronts, right? Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique are on the fast track to Oscar glory with very little possibility of anything standing in their way. The Screen Actors Guild announces their winners tomorrow night and Oscar writers are hoping that they shake things up. The arguments in favor of an upset are all highly flawed in their logic. The way I see it, the race for the win is pretty much set.
However, what about the nominees? That is a more complicated issue. While Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique have been sweeping awards left and right, the people sitting behind them has been switching up for each respective award show. There are a number of contenders that are in play beyond the five possible nominees for each category. So who is going to have their name read on nominations Tuesday?
Best Supporting Actor
In this category there are three actors who I would consider locks for a nomination – Christoph Waltz, Woody Harrelson, and Stanley Tucci. Those three actors have all been nominated for the big four precursor awards – Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA (with the exception of Harrelson who missed on the BAFTA). Although, it is pretty certain that Waltz is going to take the Oscar, there is some chatter that Harrelson might pose a threat, simply due to his likability in and around Hollywood.
There are three (maybe four) other actors competing for the last two spots in this category. Matt Damon is a Hollywood favorite who consistently just misses out on a nomination. His role in Invictus is not one of his career best performances. It’s not even his best performance of the year. However, he does have some momentum going with a SAG, Globe, and Critics Choice nomination.
The race for the fifth spot, in my mind is between Christian McKay of Me and Orson Welles, and Christopher Plummer of The Last Station. Both have received their fare share of precursor attention, but neither has been consistent. Even though Plummer is having one of the best years in his career, I’m giving the edge to McKay. The Academy loves to nominate biographical portrayals and the older voting members are likely to appreciate McKay’s work.
Best Supporting Actress
There are three supporting actresses who have all been nominated for the major four Awards in this year’s precursor race – Mo’Nique, the projected winner, and Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, the Up in the Air duo. The fourth and fifth spots in the various award nominations have been drastically varied throughout the year.
Julianne Moore seems like a sure thing. She fantastically accompanies Colin Firth in his awards-worthy lead role in Tom Ford’s A Single Man. She has also found herself nominated for the Golden Globe and a BFCA awards. Add to that the fact that she is Julianne Moore, a well-respected actress among her Hollywood peers.
The fifth spot goes to Penelope Cruz. Even though the previous Best Actress winner has suffered some from the Nine backlash, I still find her the strongest contender. She is respected among her fellow actors as they awarded her with a SAG nomination. Many will argue that there is no more important precursor than the SAG for actors and actresses.
Possible spoilers include Melanie Laurent and Diane Krueger, the ladies from Inglourious Basterds. However, they are likely to split votes with each other and harm their overall chances.