2008 Oscar Analysis: Best Supporting Actor

Javier BardemWho will win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Academy Awards? All I can say is… Holy shit, what a battle!

Here are some excerpts from my movie reviews in 2007:

“While there are several actors who turn in Oscar worthy performances in the film, it is Javier Bardem who blows everyone else away.”No Country for Old Men review

“Come Oscar time, though, it is unlikely we’ll be hearing Clooney’s name, but I pray to God that the talk of the town will be about Tom Wilkinson. Wilkinson has found the dream role here, and I will be shocked if a supporting actor nod doesn’t come his way.”Michael Clayton review

“The show stealer, however, is Hoffman. Hoffman, who plays CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, is absolutely incredible, and one of my picks for Best Supporting Actor.”Charlie Wilson’s War review

“Sadly, due to the box office performance of the movie, I would be a bit surprised to see either of these men [Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck] nominated, but both truly deliver Oscar-worthy performances.”The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford review

The only actor I didn’t give props to in my reviews was Hal Holbrook, but even he did a stellar job in a rather small and understated role. Compared to the other actors, however, the only thing going for him is his age. Simply put:

  • Javier Bardem will win, and he’s my choice to win. Why? Bardem plays an absolute bad ass, seriously one of the most disturbing and psychotic characters in cinema history. Beyond that, he is the one actor who’s coming out of a successful movie: both audiences and critics alike have given the film praise, and it has the box office dollars to back that praise up. It also doesn’t help that No Country for Old Men is one of the front runners to win it all. I’m not as confident about this victory as I am with other categories as the competition is so fierce, but I’m betting low odds that Bardem will win Best Supporting Actor at 2008’s Academy Awards.
  • Tom Wilkinson is phenomenal in Michael Clayton, but there is one big problem: the movie tanked at the box office because no one saw it. His performance is truly Oscar worthy, but I just haven’t heard his name discussed. The acting has taken a back seat to the overall delivery of the film, and Wilkinson is an unfortunate victim of a variety of circumstances.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman is the best part about Charlie Wilson’s War, but unfortunately the movie received only so-so kudos from critics and audiences largely ignored the comedy-drama. I just never pictured Charlie Wilson’s War to be a major contender, and it also hurts Hoffman that he recently won an Oscar for Best Actor just a little while back. His character is also supplied more for comic relief, and that won’t go over as well with voters.
  • Casey Affleck probably delivered the best performance in 2007 that no one saw. I mean, most people haven’t even heard of Assassination… Ford (I get sick of writing the title out), let alone seen it. Both Affleck and Pitt are great in the movie, though their performances are rather subtle. I think this movie showed that Affleck is truly capable of great performances when given the right material, but voters will look at his age and assume he’ll have more chances on down the line. Oh, and Affleck is the main character in the movie… but I won’t go on about how he shouldn’t be allowed in the Best Supporting Actor category.
  • The only way that this award will disappoint me is if Hal Holbrook wins. He is very good in his role, but his role is neither as big or as grand as his competitors. What he does have going for him – and this worries me – is that he is old, so voters may suspect he may die before he turns in another great performance, and that voters may try to make up for the fact that Into the Wild was largely ignored at the Oscars by giving him a medal.

The Best Supporting Actor Oscar category is an extremely competitive category and every actor involved deserves recognition, but No Country for Old Men will rightfully carry Javier Bardem to the podium.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Awards & Oscars
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