Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Oscar: Where We Stand Now (Supporting Actor)

Part 1 of 4

Though many Oscar writers do some sort of halfway-mark article in June or July of each year (here's mine) it would probably be smarter to do a halfway-mark article at August's end. It don't make no calendar sense but awards sense? That, my friends, it makes. You see, in awardage memes it all begins in the fall. Since statistics surprisingly support at least 2 acting nominees annually prior to the fall season, the struggle for any performers arriving prior to September is this: If you're in the hunt now, can you hold your place as the prestige offerings come galloping into theaters?

So here's a quick look at the 5 likeliest nominees (according to my idea of AMPAS tastes) in each category if the year ended on August 31st. We'll get to some other roundups in the next installments. What are the individual struggles of these Supporting Actor candidates going into the final four-month stretch of Oscar's long-distance race?

Supporting Actor
Kevin Costner The Upside of Anger
Matt Dillon Crash
Paul Giamatti Cinderella Man
Terrance Howard Crash
Jeffrey Wright Broken Flowers

I wanted to throw in Mickey Rourke for Sin City just to be in-your-face about this exercize. But even though his unrecognizable turn was perhaps the one non-visual talking point from that hit, Oscar will never be vacationing in that town. I also wanted to tip my hat to Paddy Considine who was terrific in My Summer of Love but I am the only person in the known universe who saw it so... moving on.

If you accept my premise that those five men listed are the leaders now... how will they hold up through fall and winter? Wright is the surest candidate to fade. Though he's a great actor (Belize in Angels in America anyone? Wow.) Broken Flowers' Oscar hopes are riding entirely on AMPAS recently acquired taste for Bill Murray's deadpan nuance and on the media angle of a Jim Jarmusch breakthrough (of sorts). Costner currently seems second-most-likely to drop. He's the earliest contender to arrive. But even though he's a winning actor in this one type of role (only that one -sorry Kev') he's played it (too?) many times before.

So that leaves us with the trifecta of the Crash boys and Oscars-Most-Egregiously-Snubbed wine lover. I don't think it's far fetched to say that all three of them could make a real play for a nomination. Surely not all three of them will choose too do so, considering the publicity and time demands. And not all three will survive the blows from the dozens of competitors who are yet to surface. But if I were the person responsible for "who-to-campaign-for?" decisions, I'd still consider investing pr dollars in these three.

Pros & Cons
Bad cop Matt Dillon has an enduring career (big +) charisma (+) and a lynchpin role in an acclaimed drama (+). He also has a semi-hateful character (slight -) and lots of internal competition (big -). So we move over to victim of his character's ill placed prejudice, Terrance Howard. He has a breakout year (big +) another acclaimed performance and film in Hustle & Flow (+) and the most sympathetic role in this acclaimed hit drama (big +). Paul Giamatti has pluses and minuses as well. He has real acclaim-momentum (huge +) an Oscar friendly role (+) and last year's most visible and surprising snub (big +). On the negative side he's got a film that people like a lot but don't really love (big - )...well, it's a big minus when you're talking about early releases. Early releases need to keep people talking. Long-lasting discussion requires: 1) ardent supporters/detractors 2) hot-button issues/controversies and/or 3) big hit status. Cinderella Man fails on all three of those Oscar mnemonic-helper counts.

Most Likely to Survive?
I actually think this is a tough call to make. The heart says a nod to Matt Dillon's unexpectedly lengthy career but the head says Paul Giamatti for Cinderella Man. It's that Sideways snub pushing him closer to his first Oscar nod.


Kris said...
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Kris said...

Nice piece.

It's worth understanding that the same marketing agency is in charge of the Crash and Hustle & Flow campaigns. Word is that Dillon will get a strong push, and I'm betting that Howard fades Crash-wise to make room for that lead Hustle campaign.

Obviously I'm going with Giamatti to last through to the end, but should Crash hit at all with the Academy outside of the writers, Dillon might be the first contender to watch as Cheadle's lead push will likely go nowhere. I'm staying out of the Crash debate until it becomes apparent that a few movies are sinking in the fall season, but it's possible. But this category, as usual, is very stacked. Just look at the list of possible contenders when all is said and done. One pre-season entry might be all we have room for.

John T said...

I don't really think any one of the Supporting Actor potential candidates released thusfar will be nominated. If I had to guess the eventual lineup personally, I'd go with Sarsgaard (it's about time, and the Academy knows it), Hoskins (they love a comeback), Plummer (see Hoskins), Gyllenhaal (he'll go supporting for Brokeback), and Rush (they so love him).


But statistics show pre-fall nominees every year (thus, this exercize) So if it's not in supporting actor it's gonna be somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Great text. That is one of the reasons why I keep coming back for more.

Thanks once again.

Marcelo - Brazil.

Calum Reed said...

I don't think there's gonna be many (if any) pre-fall nominees this year. It hasn't been as strong a year as usual. The only realistic contender for a nod so far is probably Joan Allen, and even that is not set in stone.

I share your admiration of Paddy Considine, and he is among the best from the films I've seen this year. Also, if I had my way, Nathalie Press would be at the head of the lead actress race. Alas.

Anonymous said...

I think Dillon will be in there. Let's not overlook how significant best-in-show loving from Roger Ebert can be. It just strikes me that Dillon has one of those names that voters will love to pick out, not for him being necessarily overdue, but because he's paid his dues... (Hey, didn't he date Mariah Carey?!)


Anonymous said...

I'm biased, but I think T. Howard will make it for "Crash" because his name is too small to compete with the others for Lead Actor in "H&F," and Supporting Actor is where they recognize "welcome to Oscarability" performances for bodies of work (Jim Broadbent 2001, Edward Norton 1996, etc)


I seriously think that if Crash manages a strong campaign a Best Pic nom could actually happen. Longshot but it's mighty impressive when you consider that it didn't exactly set Toronto on fire last year.

adam k. said...

I think the only real contenders for pre-fall nods are Giamatti and Allen. I'm still banking on Allen to make it. Someone from early on has to, and it will be her.

Anonymous said...

I am also with the feeling that Crash could forseeably (er, that's not a word is it?) come up and bite one of the bigger contenders (Memoirs? Munich? etc) and steal a coveted spot. It was emmensely successful (one of this summers big hits), was an ensemble (don't they sorta like those?) and was legitimately good!

Here's my feeling with regards to acting nominees in Crash. If Thandie Newton can also muster a campaign then so can Howard and they may both get in. However if that doesn't sail then it could be Dillon all by his lonesome.

And, if the Academy didn't nominate Giamatti for Sideways (which I actually didn't like him all that much in) or American Splendor (which I have not seen) then I doubt they'll nominate him for this. It would just stink of a cop-out.


Anonymous said...

But Glenn, the Academy loves a copout when they're handing out "makeup" awards.

adam k. said...

I guess Crash is looking rather good for a SAG ensemble spot, isn't it? That could help it in the best picture race.

Anonymous said...

Sigh, i suppose you're right Anon. But what if the movie they're in is no good in terms of Oscar?

Meh, maybe it's just me immense dislike of Paul Giamatti. Sorry, but a boring shlub playing a boring shlub is not supreme acting to me. Shoot me.



can I change my answer to Matt Dillon ;)
I'm starting to be convinced.

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