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If you fused two Hulks together could they smash J.K. Simmons?

That's the question I keep asking myself about Best Supporting Actor. My Oscar-clogged brain works like that, taking flights of fancy when it finds true facts too boring to contemplate any further. J.K. Simmons could only lose the Oscar if he suddenly became a different person before ballots were due and was unmasked as a terrorist or a serial killer or what not. He's going to win because in addition to giving a big beloved performance, he is also very well liked. As with Patricia Arquette, it's churlish and unbecoming to root against a long time actor finally getting the role people will remember them by. 

In any other year, though, this particular Oscar race would be a weird superhero collision between two very fine famous actors who both happen to get green when they're angry. Former Hulk Edward Norton vs. Present Hulk Mark Ruffalo. Both would have tremendously strong narratives for a win in that "They haven't won yet? But they're always great!" kind of way. But they'll both lose.

Silver lining: Perhaps if you tally the final votes in a month's time, their combined totals would beat Simmons? No never mind. He's too far ahead even for that.

See the Best Supporting Actor chart here! Find out how they got nominated*, how many films they've made, and vote on the poll for who "should" win - it's Reader's Choice.

*theorizing for entertainment purposes only - we can't read voter minds

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Reader Comments (24)

Now that the excitement of the nominations has settled, the glum morning-after feeling sets in. Why do the categories get decided so quickly? How is it that the consensus forms essentially before the nominations are announced?

For the next six weeks, all of us Oscar watchers will spend a lot of time fantasizing that there are surprises in the works for the acting categories -- remembering a Marcia Gay Harden or a Tilda -- and holding onto those thrilling moments like a lifeline promising to rescue us from drowning in predictability.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Simmons has so much going for him re his past work. Broadway, Oz, The Closer (hard to find two series performances any different), a string of popular, comic commercials, years of strong supporting roles, both large and small in film and no one can ever say he phoned in a performance. Norton and Ruffalo both have great resumes, but they pale in comparison to Simmons overall. Add to that, the fact that Simmons' performance in Whiplash is as strong if not stronger than both other is hard to find a reason for him not to be miles ahead of everyone else. Category fraud is the only quibble.

And in a fight between the Hulks and Schillinger.........

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Simmons is winning because he's his film's co-lead. Not because he's a beloved underdog character actor. If anything he is owed something from the TV Academy instead of the Motion Picture Academy for his contribution to that medium.

Patricia Arquette being the sole member of her acting family to win an Oscar makes sense too. In her case she has a film legacy to backup the sentiment to award her the big prize after years of appearing in some provocative studio movies.

Does Julianne Moore and Michael Keaton need explanations?

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I don't begrudge Simmons, but I'm sad that Norton, Hawke and Ruffalo, giving THOSE performances, won't stand a chance.

On the other hand, I do begrudge Duvall (and the voters). If we could have got Pine, Brolin, Ahmed, virtually anyone else being considered, we would have had a perfect category. I'm trying to be tell myself that Waltz came in 6th in voting, and Duvall was our only hope of keeping him out. Maybe, right?

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Henry - i don't really share that opinion... mostly because I don't think TV or stage work should factor into "due" with Oscar. there are other awards for that. (that really miffed me about Jessica Tandy's "career honors" for Driving Miss Diasy when she in no way had a stellar filmography.

I think Norton and Ruffalo are both doing more complicated more interesting work in their films this year. But I realize Simmons is going to win and he is great in a lot of things so it's fine. Again it's churlish to root against someone like that.

January 17, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel: I don't think his lead and probable win are viewed as "due" rewards. I think he is earning the position. All his other work just gives him credibility. Maybe I didn't make that clear.

Silly question: Are NATHANIEL R and NathanielR both you on two different computers? Just want to make sure i am crediting thoughts correctly.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Call me churlish, but I wouldn't mind a surprise winner in either of the two actress categories. I will be somewhat bummed if Simmons and Keaton (knock on wood) lose, especially if to Duvall and Cooper.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

But Ethan Hawke! It's sad that the subtle performances from men never find traction.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Paul Outlaw: Both of those you guys you cited are the perceived 5th and 4th place of their categories, respectively. Cooper WILL be winning at some point, but it's far more likely to be supporting actor next year for Joy if he really does have a role in it.

Supporting Actor:

1. Simmons
2. Norton
3. Ruffalo
4. Hawke
5. Duvall

Lead Actor:

1/2. Keaton
2/1. Redmayne
3. Cumberbatch
4. Cooper
5. Carell

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Volvagia: I know, thank God. But that's why it would be a surprise.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

American Sniper will be the highest grossing BP nominee by the end of the day, perhaps, has an outside shot of being Top 3 for 2014... If AMPAS is going to reward it anywhere big, Actor makes the most sense. Keaton's "due" narrative isn't nearly as strong as Moore's in the Actress race. Yes, he's likely to have more chances, but I can see voters also looking at it like a sort of coronation for Hollywood's new prom king. Third nod, gained a ton of weight/did an accent, strong personal reviews, monster box office...brace yourselves.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

I don't think this is Cooper or Sniper's year regardless of BO. Unless Keaton or Redmayne misstep somewhere it will be down to the wire between the two of them. Only possibility for an upset is if they cancel each other out.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Hawke is the best here. I think Simmons' performance is great but he's really underserved by a script that gives him very little nuance, and unfortunately he doesn't bring much himself. I never got the impression that Fletcher was an actual human being. At best he's a veritable psychopath, and I don't think that's what Chazelle was going for.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I still have yet to see Whiplash and Boyhood. But Norton did such brilliant, stinging work it's hard for me to pick anyone else. Ruffalo was good but not award-worthy. I love Duvall and this nomination, but a loaded gun couldn't make me watch The Judge.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I saw "Whiplash" today and cannot believe the praise it's getting. The plot was absurd.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

I would be happy with any of them winning, except Duvall. He was by far the best thing about The Judge, but that film was a mess. My favorites are Simmons and Ruffalo.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Claire: I completely agree with you. I figured that Keaton would win if it was between him and Redmayne because Redmayne didn't have the narrative and The Theory of Everything is no My Left Foot.

However, between Keaton and Cooper, I have to lean towards Cooper even though I want Keaton to win. This just feels like the perfect time for Cooper to win. He's on his third nomination in a row. American Sniper is peaking at the right time and will likely be the talk of the town for some time. Cooper is getting raves on Broadway. It just feels like his year even though he missed the precursors up to now, but if anyone can win the Oscar without them, Cooper in a movie directed by Clint Eastwood likely can.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMorton

Norton should have won with either Primal Fear or American History X.

Simmons was nominated only for the first time, NOT overdue at all IMO

And yes, Whiplash's story line is absurd if you take a more serious second look

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBryan

I really didn't love Simmons in Whiplash. I mean he was good, but all he was doing was screaming. Norton and Hawke are my favorites, but no way Simmons is losing.

January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteve


January 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I would love a MARCIA in this category and Norton is who I would pick,surely to be one of the best supporting actor nominees ever by the end of this decade,I find this year nearly all my categories are v different from Oscars bar supporting actor..

January 18, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermark

SanFran Cinema, I'd argue that it's because the critics groups, the Globes and the guilds (particularly the SAG) have shifted what they attempt to do.

January 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Prom king is a good label for what Cooper as best actor would be but i.m not sure Hollywood is looking to crown a new prom king for this year; the last prom king McConaughey is still freshly minted and doing good box office work (ie interstellar) and isn't going away anytime soon. This may be Cooper's third nomination but it is the only straight drama among them, surely they will want to see him do at least one more dramatic work before they are willing to believe he is the real acting deal (they can't all go an see him on Broadway; True Detective was much easier for the Academy to Cath up on) and surely the liberal side of the Academy would want it to be in a movie that is less problematic in its apprent politics.
*in full disclosure, I haven't seen American Sniper, Interstellar or the Elephant Man revival.

January 18, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermatt

The only category so far where I've seen all nominees. If I had a vote, I will give it to Simmons. I think his and Norton's performance are equally deserving of a win, but I'd give my vote to Simmons only because I think this is his one and only chance while Norton will surely get more chances to win down the road.

My rankings:
1/2 - Simmons, Norton
3 - Ruffalo
4 - Hawke
5 - Duvall

January 19, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermelvel

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