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Entries in Supporting Actor (77)

Wednesday
Oct292014

Podcast: Gone Girl, Whiplash, and Kathleen Turner Sightings

The Podcast is back! 
And just in time for awards season to heat up. Please welcome back Nick Davis, Joe Reid, Katey Rich and your host Nathaniel R, as they discuss Gone Girl's conversational staying power, agnosticism about the very popular Whiplash, and fun anecdotes from Nick's jury duty at the Chicago Film Festival.

The discussion goes like so:

  • 00:01 Wild Anecdote & Podcast Reunion
  • 01:20 Kathleen Turner & Chicago Film Festival
  • 03:50 Gone Girl
  • 25:52 Wide Open Supporting Races
  • 27:31 The Selma Plan? 
  • 29:20 The Gotham Awards
  • 32:00 Whiplash
  • 41:25 Goodbyes

Articles Referenced in This Discussion
Gone Girl's "Psycho Bitch" |  Vulture Gone Girl's Woman ProblemKatey on Supporting ActressNathaniel on Supporting ActorThe Gotham Award Nominations 

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download on iTunes tomorrow (it generally takes 24 hours to show up there). Continue the conversation in the comments! 

Whiplash, Girl !

Saturday
Oct252014

Meet the Contenders: Sam Rockwell "Laggies"

Here's abstew with this weekend's profile of an outside Oscar contender. While this weekend's release is not quite as buzzy as other contenders, Rockwell is always worth celebrating.

Sam Rockwell as Craig in Laggies

Best Supporting Actor

Born: November 5, 1968 in San Mateo, California

The Role: Lynn Shelton's latest film (the director's previous work include mumblecore films Humpday and Your Sister's Sister), that premiered at Sundance this year, takes on a story of a woman with arrested development. Megan (Keira Knightley) is in her late 20's and all her friend's are doing adult things like getting married. But when Megan's own boyfriend proposes, she freaks out, goes into a quarter life crisis, and ends up hanging out with a teenage girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), while finding herself drawn to the girl's divorced father (Rockwell).

Rockwell took over in the role of Craig, which was originally supposed to be played by Paul Rudd. (Knightley also took over for Anne Hathaway who had to drop out due to filming of Interstellar.) And due to an illness that left him in the hospital, came in at the end of the shoot to film his part. He said that his recent hospital stay brought a more subdued nature that worked for his character. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct242014

The Wide Open Spaces of Best Supporting Actor

With only six presumed major contenders yet to be screened by these eyes (Unbroken, Big Eyes, Into the Woods, A Most Violent Year, Selma, American Sniper) it's awfully late in the year for there to be so little in the way of clues as to what the full Supporting Actor lineup might look like. In a more competitive year Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), and Edward Norton (Birdman) probably wouldn't seem like cast iron locks in October. But they do. 

Kingsley (Exodus), Waltz (Big Eyes), Caine (Interstellar), Duvall (The Judge). 19% of the nominees in this category in the past 20 years have been previous winners.

In the fantasy world inside my head, the Academy board of governors throws up their hands and admits defeat, making a special ruling that from this day forward there will be 7 Supporting Actress nominees each year and only 3 Supporting Actors because everyone knows that's the way it should be given the disparity gap in quality between the two categories. But the world doesn't operate by my actressexual logic, as tragic as that may be. 

Given the Academy's lack of imagination for this particular category -- it's by a significant ratio the least quality-oriented among Oscar's long history with acting honors -- we'll most likely see some scenario where very traditional Oscar Bait or Category Frauders or Respected Men who they like regardless of the role / picture show up. Maybe a twofer from this previously nominated bunch: Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes), Robert Duvall (The Judge) Michael Caine (Interstellar), Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice -- I love this performance by the way. Not trying to paint it with an underserving brush), or maybe even a double whammy like Tim Roth/Tom Wilkinson (Selma) though the Supporting Actor category hasn't had a double since Bugsy way back in 1991 with Ben Kingsley and Harvey Keitel. (Back then I pretended Keitel was nominated for Thelma & Louise instead  - it made infinitely more sense)

My point is this: two spots are wide open for which truly no one can legitimately claim to have any solid traction for (yet). Frankly any actor with a good size role this year who is either a) respected or b) in an Oscar friendly movie, would be insane not to be shaking hands and kissing babies and doing a bajillion interviews. And as I've long maintained, campaigning as a long shot is NOT bad for your career. It helps you with momentum, even if you don't make it, the next time you're great in a picture. Pardon the pun, but it's a golden opportunity.

Here, for your hopeful amusement and ponderings, some contenders that aren't being discussed...

LONGSHOT CONTENDERS OFF BEATEN PATH
... FOR YOUR 'WHAT IF' PONDERINGS...

TYLER PERRY, Gone Girl
Elvis has arrived... at the Dolby Theater? I was the first pundit to suggest this and honestly I don't see why it's so far-fetched. He's a known commodity seen in a new context (often an attention-grabbing combo) in a crowd-pleading part in a blockbuster hit. Plus Supporting Actor, of all the acting categories, is arguably the one that's least concerned with actual performances and roles and more with the men in question. This is the category where they regularly shove people they just want to congratulate, people they just generally like regardless of the part, and careers that are there to be honored. (Plus its where they shove leading men who aren't strong enough to make it in the Lead Actor category but let's not get into Category Fraud today!) The real question here is whether AMPAS members love Gone Girl and I'm getting conflicting info on that.

Billy Magnusson at the Tony AwardsCHRIS PINE and BILLY MAGNUSSEN, Into the Woods
Look, I know how Oscar works. They're more likely to nominate Johnny Depp as The Wolf no matter what he looks like therein since they like the familiar faces. Still, in nearly every production of Into the Woods the Princes are awesome and funny. No one thinks "comedy!" when they hear the name Chris Pine unless they're obsessed with Just My Luck and if so they deserve our collective empathy but I assure all of you that the other prince, stage actor Billy Magnussen, is the real deal as comically gifted actors go. He's probably too young / too unknown by AMPAS types to win one of those "silly" nomination even if they end up loving Into the Woods but maybe that "Agony" duet will be a real showstopper?

ALEC BALDWIN, Still Alice
For symmetry's sake with Iris (2001), they could nominate the long-suffering husband of the Best Actress with Alzheimers.  If they do, everyone will be absolutely stunned to realize that Alec Baldwin is older now than Jim Broadbent was back then. True fact.

ANDY SERKIS, TOBY KEBELL, and JASON CLARKE, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
People seem to have forgotten about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which is a bit weird when you consider how obsessed people were for at least two weeks earlier this year. Serkis and Kebell are both doing motion capture performances that everyone was wild for as the film's star ape and his antagonist. Oscar might not be quite ready to go there yet, but Oscar pundits and think piece essayists most definitely are each time. Eventually something like that will happen but I'm guessing we're about 10 years away from that scenario. Still, you never know and if the movie has a late revival and they're too scared to nominate an Ape there's always rising star Jason Clark in the lead role to consider for supporting. Can this movie's campaign team remind everyone how respected this cast was over the summer for some Best Ensemble traction at least? We'll see.

MARTIN SHORT, Inherent Vice
Hear me out and try not to hate me. I am not a fan of Martin Short. I know this makes me an outlier but his screen persona / performance style is too broad to take seriously in non-slapstick situations. Yes, even in the rare circumstances when he's doing drama. Nevertheless I am not blind to the crazy love other people feel for him and at least at the screening I attended for Inherent Vice his extended over the top cameo as a lecherous drug-addled dentist with a much younger girlfriend was a huge hit with the crowd. The Academy isn't opposed to oddball nominations in the supporting category if it means they can honor a veteran. Maybe this isn't so far-fetched at all... IF and only if the critics rally for Inherent Vice which they might despite it being Paul Thomas Anderson's worst movie. 

ALBERT BROOKS, A Most Violent Year and... uh... Drive
Fantasy Scenario Inside My Demented Oscar Brain: Feeling frisky the Actors Branch refuses to comply by AMPAS rules and forces a double nomination for Albert Brooks. First for his supporting role in the late breaking A Most Violent Year and a special write-in for Drive (2011) the very first retroactive nomination for a past snub along with a full page apology in Variety. Sorry about it, man. You were such a good sport that year. Here's two nominations! 

FRESHLY UPDATED OSCAR CHARTS...
(more to come)
ACTRESS |  SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESSANIMATED FEATURES

Tuesday
Oct212014

Lunchtime Poll: Multiple Acting Oscars

I was all prepared to list the most Oscar winning Actors for a quickie top ten list. Until I remembered there were only six with 3 or more Oscars (for acting)

Four Leading Oscars
01 Katharine Hepburn
Three Leading Oscars
02 Daniel Day-Lewis
Three Oscars (Lead/Supporting Mix)
[Three-Way Tie]
03 Ingrid Bergman
03 Meryl Streep
03 Jack Nicholson
Three Oscars (Supporting)
06 Walter Brennan

YOUR TASK: Make it a top ten by filling slots seven through ten. Name the four actors who most deserve to join them as three-timers or the ones who seem most likely?

Saturday
Oct112014

Meet the Contenders: J.K. Simmons "Whiplash"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, a hit at Sundance that just played the New York Film Festival.

J.K. Simmons as Fletcher in Whiplash

Best Supporting Actor

Born: Jonathan Kimble Simmons was born January 9, 1955 in Detroit, Michigan

The Role: Writer/Director Damien Chazelle's festival hit first came to attention with its screenplay that was featured on the annual Black List in 2012. The film follows a first year drum major (Miles Teller) at the fictional Shaffer Conservatory of Music that joins the elite Jazz orchestra headed by a sadistic conductor named Terence Fletcher (Simmons). Fletcher is well respected and can make or break a young musician's career, although his methods of achieving perfection (violent outbursts, name calling, and physical abuse when he actually throws a chair at Teller) are somewhat unconventional.

To fund the feature length film, Chazelle first made an 18-minute short (an excerpt of the complete script) that was shown at Sundance in 2013, with Simmons as Fletcher, that won the Jury Award in short film. When it came time to make the full-length film, there was talk of re-casting Fletcher with a bigger name (Kevin Spacey, Kevin Kline, and Jeff Daniels were all considered), but Simmons ultimately was able to reprise the role he created. And the film received the Audience Award and top Jury Prize when it premiered at Sundance this past January. 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep272014

NYFF: J.K. Simmons Holds Court, Boosts Supporting Actor Bid

"I guess I was a professional musician. I got paid tens of dollars," J.K. Simmons shrugged, getting the first of many big laughs at the press conference for Damien Chazelle's Whiplash. He was being grilled about his music background (he studied classical music in college) and what he brought to his big big role in this crowdpleasing drama. Whiplash is about the sweaty bloody foul-mouthed, humiliating and combative relationship of Andrew, a talented drummer (Miles Teller) and his sadistic mentor, Professor Fletcher (Simmons).

The movie is muscularly directed by Chazelle, like he's got as much to prove as Andrew (he'll direct another music related film next) and edited for maximum razzle-dazzle as if syncopated to the double time jazz rhythm -- or any other rhythm, really, that Fletcher demands during grueling rehearsals. Often stopping the action to scream "Not my tempo!" 

Whiplash than sometimes gives off the illusion that it's directed from within, as if the film is continually queued by, responding to, or enraged at Fletcher's barked orders, precise time signature hand movements, and threatening in-your-face closeups. The illusion than is that Professor Fletcher is demanding the movie conform to him, rather than the movie inviting him to be its antagonist.  

At the press conference the 59 year old actor was also the star of the show. In this case he had no competition for the spotlight. Miles Teller wasn't there and the film's young director was stuck in traffic allowing J.K. the bulk of the press conference to himself. Though his face is familiar from a long career of well received supporting roles he doesn't usually get this much of the screen (or stage as it were) all to himself. He took the opportunity to keep the press laughing, faux-mock his young co-star for being too busy "working" to be there with him, and for not making the short with him which was used to raise interest and funding for the movie (the short, which was a huge hit at Sundance in 2013, co-starred Johnny Simmons, no relation, who J.K. complimented adding that his take on the Andrew character was much different than Teller's work). J.K. reserved most of the good-natured teasing for his director who he continually referred to as an "adolescent" or "child". When the 29 year old director arrived toward the end of the event, and the questions began to flow his way, Simmons burst out laughing when a reporter began his question with the formal "Mister Chazelle..." 

A true scene stealer, that J.K. Simmons.

J.K., Damien, and Miles on set

It was deeply moving for me to work with musicians of that calibre and relive that part of my youth after having taken so many left turns in my career. It was really fun to work with musicians every day at work and/or scream at people which are two of my favorite things."

But for all his joking he managed to slip in thoughtful responses to questions, emotional hooks, and admitting that he wasn't sure how to unpack some of the provocative questions the movie raises about teaching and pushing people to greatness. This juggling act should serve him well in the quest for Oscar gold. The crowd was stunned to hear that they shot this tense intimate movie in just 19 days, a tiny blip in the amount of time they've spent promoting it since. As you'll recall the film premiered to rapturous response at Sundance 2014 and finally hits theaters in select cities on October 10th. Count on J.K. Simmons to spend the first two months of 2015 on red carpets and with cameras trained tightly to his face on Oscar night.

Wednesday
Sep172014

157 days 'til Oscar

We're still five months and a few days away from Oscar night so is it possible that things are starting to lock up? Ehhhh yes but mostly no. Every year all over the web casual movie fans and awards nuts like to start shouting LOCK as early as May for various things (usually centered around something becoming a massive hit or winning something at Cannes). But that's not really how it works. So here we are in September. A lot can happen in the last three and a half months of the calendar year leading up to the nominations. We've still got a long way to go and, conceivably, brilliant or lazy campaigns and smart or clumsy moves and release date shifts can still change everything... even if things are looking terribly good or just dismal for whomever or whatever. While I don't technically like to call anything or anyone a lock before it's actually opened (and thus eligible) the closest thing we have within the four acting categories are two, both in lead races: Reese Witherspoon (Wild) and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything). They have all the ingredients you could want in a lead push -- the right release dates, the right kinds of roles with the right kinds of hooks, the right level of quality in the actual acting, the right early critical response, the right time in their careers, and a release strategy already carefully mapped out by the right studio. 

There are other "likely!" contenders at the moment of course (Still Julianne, holla / Imitation of Benedict: The People's Choice) but I'd argue that Reese & Eddie are the closest to securing nominations.

And I'd argue that the Supporting Actress category is the most volatile where no one is particularly close It's easy to imagine my current predicted lineup being exactly right but it's almost as easy to imagine not one of the five of them making it if the films that still haven't screened or those that could yet gather more power or lose it, happen to shake up this category. Nobody is remotely safe yet. People like to claim that Patricia Arquette is a done deal for Boyhood and though I hope so I don't think so. We're still four months from nominations and pictures praised for being directorial visions are often where you end up with weird blindspots when it comes to the acting branch. 

MAJOR UPDATES, MOVEMENT, NEW PLAYERS ON ALL FOUR ACTING CHARTS

ALSO UPDATED

Who or what do you think locks up next?