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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in Supporting Actor (89)

Monday
Apr062015

April Foolish Oscar Predix - Supporting Actors

As is the case every year the supporting categories are incredibly foggy early on. One rarely knows which supporting players have big roles (unless they're co-leads campaigning fraudulently which we should always expect). And then there's the matter of who will steal scenes and who will be reduced to glorified cameos even if their roles sound good on paper.

Will Poulter and Tom Hardy heading to shoot scenes for The Revenant

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about this Foolish early punditry: Supporting players, unlike leads, almost never win traction unless their film is also well liked. That adds yet another layer of clouds blocking future vision.

All of which makes April Foolish supporting pictures an exercize in fantasy. But it's fun! The chart is now up for  Best Supporting Actor and to start things off I'm predicting an all newbie lineup. But looking over the general foggy field one could have genuine with high hopes for a couple of respected actors who've never had a real Oscar shot like Tom Hardy and Kyle Chandler, actors who have been mistreated by Oscar like Ralph Fiennes (future cinephiles will be driven mad puzzling how he missed for Grand Budapest Hotel) and Kurt Russell (tell me again how he missed for Silkwood?) and actors who fit right into Things Oscar Does like Seth Rogen (comic gone serious), Bradley Cooper (you like me you really like me) and so on. The chart is big and extensive because it's silly to rule anyone out before most films have begun screening.

Among films with large casts that we suspect are teeming with possibly eventful supporting players but who can really say are Warren Beatty's Untitled Howard Hughes Project, Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight, and the press expose of the Catholic Church scandal drama known as Spotlight

Some of "Spotlight"s key cast members: Keaton, Schreiber, Ruffalo, McAdams, Slattery, James

And that's not all. There's also the head-injury medical sports drama Concussion led by Will Smith, an FBI drama led by Emily Blunt called Sicario, and the all star period literary drama Genius which features Jude Law, Guy Pearce, Dominic West, and others as famous authors. There's also the Hollywood Blacklist drama Trumbo which is headlined by Bryan Cranston but features a lot of other actors as famous showbiz figures

Do you have any suspicions about this field or any wild card predictions?

Wednesday
Feb252015

Black History Month: Morgan Freeman Enters The Conversation

Our celebration of Black History Month is, naturally, also an Oscar History Celebration. Today Nathaniel looks at Morgan Freeman's original claim to fame.

When you think of Morgan Freeman what's the first thing that comes up? Given his revered stature in contemporary cinema the answer is undoubtedly pulled from the following character types: wise mentor, savvy professional, trusted friend, quiet confidante, brilliant academic, noble leader. Freeman brings such natural authority and wise but warm old men sass onscreen that playing God in the comedy Bruce Almighty wasn't even a stretch but a light bulb "of course it's Freeman!" moment. So it's a little startling to remember or discover that his first of five Oscar nominations -- he's the most celebrated black actor in Oscar history outside of Denzel Washington -- and indeed his breakthrough in cinema does not fit the Morgan Freeman mold in virtually any way. 

This ho said you wanted to meet me so here I am. 

No, Morgan Freeman's original claim to big screen fame was as a vicious pimp named "Fast Black" in a largely forgotten journalist-plays-with-fire drama called Street Smart (1987). [More...]

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Sunday
Feb222015

Readers Poll Results: Who *Should* Win?

With the Oscars arriving in 12 hours and your host (er, Nathaniel -- your host here at TFE-- not NPH) still sick as a dog, I turn the time over to you. Your votes have been tallied from the polls we ran on the individual Oscar Chart pages over the past month and here's who YOU -- the collective you at least -- are rooting for tonight.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Grand Budapest Hotel won 37% of your hearts. In solid second place was Birdman with 30%. Nightcrawler and Boyhood had their fans with 16% and 12% of the vote respectively. Trailing them all with a poor showing was Foxcatcher with 4%.

acting, director, picture after the jump

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Friday
Jan302015

'The Stanford Prison Experiment' ...Of Future Stardom

Nathaniel again, down to my final two Sundance movies. (Michael stayed longer so he has more coming)

The Outsiders. School Ties. Go. Mean Girls. Dazed and Confused... These are movies people often marvelled at after the fact for capturing multiple future stars in the same ensemble before the title of "star" sat completely well on them. Certain movies function like abnormally prescient time capsules in that way and, who knows, perhaps The Stanford Prison Experiment will one day be among them?

"Guard" terrorizes "Prisoners" in THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT

It's not that the faces are complete nobodies exactly but, apart from Billy Crudup, as the possibly awful Dr. Philip Zimbardo who is behind the psychological experiment in situational behavior, most of them are lesser known. Or, if they're already rising stars, they don't exactly have that signature role or household name factor just yet.

The Standford Prison Experiment was a famous study from the 1970s in which a psychology professor and his team took a simple ad out in the paper for students to participate in a "psychological study of prison life" for 1 to 2 weeks for $15 a day. Students signed up thinking it was easy money but easy it was not...

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Thursday
Jan222015

A Few Unsung Supporting Actors

I dive headfirst into 2015 cinema tomorrow at Sundance but tonight I did some finalizing of my Supporting Actor ballot for 2014. I really should do these things earlier for advocacy purposes. For while the Oscar race was curiously composed of just five people essentially -- you could see tumbleweeds drifting across the communal hive mindscape whenever this category was mentioned -- there were several men giving fine performances out there. As with Best Actress, they were just ignored and everyone shrugged, "weak year".

It's almost never that simple. Though some years of cinema are better than others, it's rare to find a weak year in any acting category. The reason is simple math: with hundreds of movies coming out every year and each of those containing dozens of performances, there are always more than 20 commendable performances to be seen and discussed.

You can see my supporting actor ballot here. It's my closest match to Oscar this year I believe but among the just-misses are very fine performances. Some performers, for various reasons, just don't get talked about. Sometimes that's because the role is "thankless" like Kristofer Hivju's excellent juggling of tone as a perfect subplot foil for the A plot and characters in Force Majeure's. Other times it's because their role is "soft" -- romantic dramas tend to be tough for men to win attention for, hence nobody really considering Charlie Cox's work in The Theory of Everything as a performance just as the third point in a triangle. And in one case, hi Shia Labeouf, it's because the extracurricular celebrity circus overshadows the actually excellent acting from the sidelines. LaBeouf was fascinatingly intense in both Nymphomaniac and Fury, constantly suggesting things about his characters that are more complex than what's in the screenplay. What might he be capable of if someone actually handed him an awards-calibre role? 

 

Saturday
Jan172015

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

Monday
Jan122015

J.K. ("Just Keep-On") Simmons Still Leading. Final Predictions!

Last night's Golden Globes did nothing to change the long since frozen Best Supporting Actor race. It's so frozen that I think everyone even agrees on the order or support for each player (which is fairly unheard of). So get your place in line for the coronation parade for everyone's favorite shouty music professor. Especially after a strong acceptance speech. Barring a total shock on Thursday morning our line up will look exactly like it's been looking for some time now in the year's least contested acting category (seriously. People are still trying to make Best Actress that but it is SO not)

Best Supporting Actor Final Predictions
Robert Duvall, The Judge (5th place)
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood (4th place)
Edward Norton, Birdman (2nd place)
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher (3rd place)
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (1st place)

So what happened to Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice)?
Paul Thomas Anderson's film came out too late. Though Brolin is by far the best thing in it, the material is "far out" enough to keep people talking about a ton of other elements for far too long for the hazy discussion and fog to clear and leave the buzz to coalesce around him. When it hits DVD and cable people will surely say "How did Brolin NOT get nominated for this?" and they'll probably say it for years to come. 

So what happened to Tom Wilkinson (Selma)? Heated objections to Selma, which came quite quickly and suspiciously given the lack of scrutiny of the other "true stories" in the race, ALL centered around its portrayal of LBJ.

So what happened to Chris Pine (Into the Woods)? It would have taken Into the Woods being a Best Picture sure thing rather than a 'bubble' film to pull the cartoon Prince in. People do love him in it but you need Picture buzz or a different kind of career than he has at the moment, to win a nomination for such a broadly comic part. Not that this particular category objects to comedy.

See the Oscar chart here.

If you're a Norton or Ruffalo voter in this category make sure to vote in the "Would You Rather?" poll. Hey, it was Tina & Amy's idea, not ours.