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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

AWARDS SEASON 2018: BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
A Category That Invites A Choice Of Veteran Actors



Idris Elba as Charlie Jaffey in Aaron Sorkin's "Molly's Game". 
STX
       

by
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                                           
Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Best Supporting Actor showcases a solid pedigree of choices for the Academy, and the group they will likely be looking at now are Bryan Cranston, Willem Dafoe, Idris Elba, Armie Hammer, Woody Harrelson, Lil Rel Howery, Richard Jenkins, Jason Mitchell, Christopher Plummer, Sam Rockwell and Michael Stuhlbarg.

The Academy probably whittles those performers down to these five finalists: Mr. Dafoe ("The Florida Project"), Woody Harrelson ("Three Billboards"), Richard Jenkins ("The Shape Of Water"), Christopher Plummer ("All The Money In The World") and Sam Rockwell ("Three Billboards"). 

If these five are indeed the finalists Mr. Rockwell will be hurt by having to go up against "Three Billboards" co-star Woody Harrelson.  Both therefore are slim to none to win the Oscar owing to vote splits against them and the film.  I think that the Academy will look to go with a veteran perfomer, something the Academy often does in the supporting actor category.  More contextually, the supporting acting categories for Oscar tend to recognize either first-timers or those acting for many years.

If the previous sentence is true then Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins and Christopher Plummer should pay close attention to their television sets or laptop screens on January 23 as the Oscar nominees are announced.  All three are veterans of the film industry with impressive performances over the years in Hollywood and independent films.  Each has been Oscar-nominated before. 

Mr. Jenkins' performance is a worthy and gentle supplement to Ms. Hawkins' fine work -- the kind of performance that will be warmly received by voters.  The Academy respects Mr. Jenkins, who was a lead actor nominee for "The Visitor" a number of years ago.  I do not think however, that voters will put Mr. Jenkins at the top of their list.  For me Mr. Jenkins (by extension his character, or vice versa) sometimes disappears into (or away from) "The Shape Of Water" and doesn't leave the impression in subsequent reappearances in "Shape" that his acting had in previous moments in the film.  Sporadic, perhaps?  Will Academy members feel likewise?

Christopher Plummer won in this category several years ago ("Beginners") but I don't think Academy voters are going to vote for him here.  With its reshoots "All The Money In The World" was a late entry for screenings to the Academy, and Mr. Plummer's performance is relatively new -- roughly ten weeks old.  I question just how many Academy members have actually seen Ridley Scott's film, which is a little over two hours long.  Recent revelations about unequal reshoot pay for Michelle Williams compared to her co-star Mark Wahlberg *may* by extension hurt Mr. Plummer's chances with the Academy.

Finally, Willem Dafoe brought a friendly, avuncular aspect to his landlord character in "The Florida Project", acting with a lot of first-time or outright non-professional actors.  It is more difficult to do this kind of acting and not appear to be acting at all.  This is Mr. Dafoe's pedigree here, and he accomplishes the task very well.  Of all the work in this category Mr. Dafoe's acting, which isn't effortless by any stretch, is easiest on the eye, possessing a serenity and confidence amidst the chaos, agony and volatility of the working-class housing estate the actor's character Bobby presides over.

The Academy will vote for Willem Dafoe to be best supporting actor on March 4.


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