Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Supporting Actor Oscar Race. It's Smokin' Hot

If you're an awards junkie you'll know this feeling: after a number of years of following the Oscar race, it gets less surprising -- boredom sets in as groupthink reigns from critics associations to industry awards and you think "why do I care again?" So you must celebrate those rare moments when one category remains blurry right up until the morning of Oscar nominations. The Actress race of '03 was like this. Beyond Charlize Theron (the eventual winner) and Diane Keaton (the presumed runner up) it seemed like it might go any which way in terms of the nominations ... and it did.

The only acting category to remain in a perpetual state of flux this year is Best Supporting Actor. Believe it or not there's but one sure thing. Eddie Murphy is the only contender to score in all the precursory ways (BFCA, GG, SAG and a critics awards). Beyond him, any combo of men seem possible. How did this happen?

The NBR and the BFCA
The two early groups started the drum rolling for 'best overachievement in screaming' by Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond (perhaps edging out Brad Pitt's yell-a-thon in Babel?)

Djimon Hounsou -Blood Diamond

The BFCA, which itself practices Oscar Prediction overachievement, also noted that they thought the following performers had a shot @ the Kodak theater in February:

Ben Affleck - Hollywoodland
Alan Arkin -Little Miss Sunshine
Adam Beach - Flags Of Our Fathers
Eddie Murphy -Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson -The Departed

The Big Three Critics Groups (NYFCC, LAFCA, NSFC)
The plot thickened when the three most important critical bodies didn't agree. Los Angeles said Michael Sheen for The Queen. New York gave their kudos to comeback kid Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children. The National Society of Film Critics, the final major critics groups, enjoyed the s***-talking stylings of Mark Wahlberg. More names for Oscar to think about.

Jackie Earle Haley -Little Children
Michael Sheen -The Queen
Mark Wahlberg -The Departed

Other Critics

The many smaller critical organizations tend to color within the already set Oscar lines. This year six men divvied up the wealth. The overall tally of prizes from the critics so far --yes there's more to come-- is as follows (if I'm counting correctly): Haley: 8. Sheen: 4. Nicholson: 3. Hounsou: 3. Wahlberg: 2.Murphy: 2.

Golden Globes
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who love themselves some movie star wattage, so they went with the biggest names: Affleck, Murphy, Nicholson, Wahlberg and then they added another celebrity to the supporting actor mix

Brad Pitt -Babel

Screen Actors Guild
The massive actors union went with the previously honored Arkin, Haley, Hounsou, and Murphy. But for their final trick, in a truly confusing move, they threw a lead actor into the supporting ool of names...

Leonardo DiCaprio -The Departed

In case you haven't figured out where this is going: that's a lot of names for AMPAS voters to think about. That's especially weird when you consider that it wasn't a banner year for supporting actors. Raise your hand if you think this list of performances is truly special. Meanwhile in the Best Actress race, with at least a dozen fine portrayals to choose from, there's virtually no variety. Oh the mysteries of Oscar season.

Beyond the lack of agreement from precursors lives more doubt. Many of the performers have strikes against them: Alan Arkin is a veteran but he's also from a big cast who can siphon votes. Hounsou could ride that damn Blood Diamond wave but he's one of the very few who can't get a boost from being in a buzzy Best Picture. Jack Nicholson is an Oscar fav but some feel he's just playing "Jack" again. Pitt is a massive star but reaction to the film and his performance is mixed. Haley, the critical leader, is playing the kind of role that Oscar almost never recognizes. In fact, I can't think of a single time when such a role has been nominated. If deviant roles are nominated they are almost always in easily digestable "love to hate" form which his is not. He does have that great "comeback" hook but so to, to a lesser degree, have Affleck and Murphy.

This, awards junkies, is the only truly volatile acting race. Balloting will be tight. Who will prevail? Dozens of heads are better than one --try and figure this out in the comments.


Related Pages and Posts:
Oscar Pages * Globes * SAG * My Top Ten * Critics Awards * Djimon Hounsou * Brad Pitt * Brad in Blue. Jack in the Green * Brangelina in Wax * Brad Pitt's Girls in Melissa Etheridge Videos *

Tags: movies, cinema, Brad Pitt, supporting actor, blood diamond, film, Eddie Murphy, Jack Nicholson,Oscars, Academy Awards, Babel, Leonardo DiCaprio


Anonymous said...

- Alan Arkin
- Djimon Honsou
- Eddie Murphy
- Jack Nicholson
- Mark Wahlberg

Alt: Michael Sheen
Surprise: Steve Carell

Anyone who can go 5/5 in this category will leave me impressed.

Anonymous said...

I see: - Eddie Murphy
- Jack Nicholson
- Mark Wahlberg
- Jackie Earle Haley
- Alan Arkin
Alt:-Brad Pitt or Michael Sheen

Anonymous said...

As for #4. PITT…
I think everyone’s underestimating him. He could easily win the Globe, plus SAG has jealousy issues with certain young, tabloid friendly mega-stars…

Brad Pitt- 12 Monkeys
Sharon Stone- Casino
Nicole Kidman- Moulin Rouge
Jude Law- Ripley / Cold Mountain
Natalie Portman- Closer
Keira Knightly- Pride & Prejudice

- All were surprisingly snubbed by SAG… yet all of them won Oscar nominations. BABEL has already been warmly embraced by the HFPA and the Guilds. Pitt has the showiest role in the film and I’ll be SHOCKED if he isn’t nominated. It’s just a matter of much last year’s Bradgelina press will hurt him (or help).

I currently think the last spot will go to #5 HALEY or SHEEN. Voters obviously pay attention to the NYFCC’s awards (come on- the “House of Sand and Fog” chick) but they pay notice to the LAFCA too. And of course these two men have each been named the best by one. Since Haley has the SAG nom I think he will prevail for the fifth spot OR, its very possible they’ll split the critical darling vote and HOUNSOU will steal the spot. Regardless, I think it will be one of those three. WAHLBERG is by next pic (god knows he deserves a spot) but think about all he’s internal vote splitting with DiCaprio, Nicholson and Damon!!!

LOCKS: Eddie Murphy, Jack Nicholson (SAG probably put him lead)
LIKELY: Alan Arkin, Brad Pitt
RISKY: Jackie Earle Haley, Michael Sheen
LONGSHOTS: Djimon Hounsou, Mark Wahlberg, Ben Affleck

Sid said...

Oh. For a moment I thought it was gonna end with the Film Bitch nominees for Supporting Actor.

Anonymous said...

I did to SID!!!!!

It was rather crushing:(


oh they'll be up soon. i'm just trying to decide. i really am having trouble narrowing the races down.

Anonymous said...

Alan Arkin, Ben Affleck, Eddie Murphy, Jackie Earle Haley, Jack Nicholson. That's my 5 predictions.

My preferences: Ben Sliney, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Wahlberg.


Anonymous said...

With such a wide open category I'm really hoping we get a surprise here like Carell or Sergei Lopez from Pan's.

Neel Mehta said...

I'll go with 5 nonsmoking choices:

Ben Affleck
Alan Arkin
Steve Carell
Eddie Murphy
Michael Sheen

Strangely, that's still a pretty good list.

Yaseen Ali said...

Neat, I was just going to do a post about this, but I'm glad you did instead. Usually, I am so disinterested in this race, but this year it's the total opposite. Not for the fact that any of my favourites will make it in, but that we're sure to be surprised on nomination morning.

My take: Pitt and Sheen are out; if the former has not been able to sway any voting bodies outside the Globes, I'm not thinking he has much love in the actors' community presently. In September, I thought Sheen would be a lock, but sadly he's pretty much lost all steam.

I thought Hounsou and Earle Haley were dead until SAG. Since NBR has a shocking accuracy with nominees in this category, I think the former is in despite the weaknesses you bring up. I'd put Earle Haley sixth right now; it's just such a dicey role, and although I'm sure many respect the fearlessness in the performance, it's not one you can really *love*.

I think both Departed boys are in (despite SAG, Oscar looooves Jack, and there's lots of good will toward Wahlberg right now), barring a DiCaprio vote splitting fiasco (that's the real question right now - what messiness will result if votes are sent off in every direction?).

Steve Carell and Alan Arkin fight it out for the last spot, and I'm thinking the overall career/comeback love overcomes the comedian exercising dramatic capability.

My predix as of now:
1. Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
2. Jack Nicholson, The Departed
3. Mark Wahlberg, The Departed
4. Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
5. Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond

Michael Parsons said...

Ahh, I will just have some fun

Jack Nicolson - The Departed
Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls
Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children
Alan Arkin - Little Miss Sunshine
Brad Pitt - Babel

J.D. said...

Eddie Murphy

Jack Nicholson (Come on, he's Jack!)

Mark Wahlberg
Djimon Hounsou

Brad Pitt

Jackie Earl Haley
Alan Arkin
Ben Affleck
Michael Sheen

That's what I predict. It'll probably stay the same till the end.

Yaseen Ali said...

Oh, and another reason why I think Hounsou has a good shot is that he has the most appealing and good-natured character out of the bunch. As simplistic and condescending as the part is (the noble native who sacrifices all), it's likely more enticing for an Academy member to embrace than a child predator, or mob boss, etc, etc. Even Murphy's character isn't all that likeable, and Wahlberg (asshole at times) and Arkin (creepy grampa) also have some dark moments.

I'm not saying he has a better chance than Murphy, Arkin or whoever simply because his character is heroic and unmarked, only that it's perhaps understandable why he has lasted this long while the film overall has been largely forgotten.

Anonymous said...

I predict Alan Arkin, Jack Nicholson, Jackie Earl Haley, Eddie Murphy, and Michael Sheen.

Insane category.

Anonymous said...

It's probably not likely, but I can't help thinking that Eddie Murphy could be a surprise snub. I've read on more than one occasion over the years that he has a reputation for burning bridges in Hollywood, for turning on producers, crew, et al after production wraps. That could bite him. On the other hand, he's made Hollywood an awful lot of money, and never played a character like this.

But I'm going with Sheen, Honsou, Nicholson, Murphy, and Damon, who I think could finally show up on the awards radar where it really counts. They love The Departed, and he's half of the setup. Wahlberg's also pretty popular there.

It's probably stupid not to include Arkin on that list, but I feel like he and Carrell are going to cancel each other out. But who the heck knows. This is one tough category to predict.

adam k. said...

Murphy seems locked, Nicholson seems likely... Wahlberg also seems likely since he just won NSFC and that award has a way of pushing people over the edge (plus he's overdue, and people love his movie). Earle Haley is the bona fide critical favorite, and in a movie that people are actually watching (for Kate, mostly), and he has SAG, so I think he's in. And of course Arkin has the loved film and he's been everywhere but the globes (not a huge star). So I'm saying:


Pitt is so hard to read. On the one hand, ALL he has is the globes, which always love him On the other, he's the third piece in the Babel puzzle, and it turns out people like the film... and SAG has reasons to pass on him. I say he's 6th.

And Sheen once seemed like a lock, but how often does someone make it without BFCA, HFPA, or SAG? Hardly ever. And when they do, they're late bloomers and true surprises. If people loved him in this, he'd have gotten more love. But still, it's possible...

And I'm assuming oscar voters just won't love Blood Diamond the way other groups have... if they can't nominate Leo, maybe they won't nominate Djimon either. Maybe they'll think he got his due with In America. Who knows.

And of course Damon and Carrell are actually not out of the question either. Tough one...

Anonymous said...

Jackie Earle Haley's role is kind of similar to that of Tim Robbins in Mystic River, but now that I think of it, that side of his character was almost eliminated in the movie. I was thinking of the book.

It would be a first, but I think Haley is going to make the cut.

My snapshot picks:

Kamila said...

I am predicting:

Alan Arkin
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed)
Djimon Hounson
Eddie Murphy
Jack Nicholson

Alt: Michael Sheen
Surprise: Jackie Earle Haley

And I totally agree with your comments. By far, this is the most exciting race of this year's Oscar.

Anonymous said...

1 Alan Arkin
2 Jackie Earle Haley
3 Djimon Hounsou
4 Eddie Murphy
5 Jack Nicholson

Anonymous said...

Felix, I believe that would be Paul Giamatti two years ago.

adam k. said...

Yeah, Foxx definitely won the most critics awards.

Though this is a rather similar situation.

Anonymous said...

You could argue for anybody really, but my thinking is:

Wahlberg and

I've finally given up on Sheen from the lack of mentions, but maybe a BAFTA nod will put him back on the radar. All the critics awards help Haley but, in a tight race, a more likeable role and a more widely seen film would help.

It's been a while since we've had 2 Supp Actors in the one film (cf Supp Actress) - 1991 (Bugsy), but it happened a lot in the 80s (Platoon, Terms of Endearment, Ordinary People) so it's hardly unprecedented.

Anonymous said...

Somebody please enlighten me! Is it really possible that Leonardo Di Caprio gets a nomination in the supporting category for The Departed?

Anonymous said...

I was confident about Wahlberg but now have him as a dark horse - just not sure if the supporting actor category can carry two actors from the same field. It happens fairly frequently for Supporting Actress (Godsford Park, Chicago and likely, Babel) but, to my memory, is rare in Supporting Actor. Stephen G, 1991 is over a decade ago (but thanks for the info, dude! - I've been trying to find it)! - also, more noticeably, it didn't happen at SAG this year.

I'm going for:
1. Murphy
2. Nicholson (someone from DEPARTED will get in and he's the most likely)
3. Arkin (support for SUNSHINE is strong)
4. Haley (a little-seen film but buzz from Winslet will help drive voters to it)
5. Housou (SAG shows a lot of love and DiCaprio's BFCA and Globe noms show - bizarrely! - support for the film)

Dark Horse: Wahlberg

Check out Red, Hot + Oscar at

evermoon said...

In order of potential:

1) Murphy
2) Nicholson
3) Hounsou
4) Wahlberg
5) Arkin

6) Sheen
7) Pitt
8) Haley
9) Affleck
10) Nighy

Anonymous said...

I think its..


Look for Haley or Arkin to win.


i would actually say that anyone with the exception of Hounsou, Wahlberg or Sheen could still win -- but they have to get nominated first.

the race to win is so different than the buildup to get the nomination. kinda like in politics ;)

RC said...

this is definitly the most exciting race of the year.

I'm certainly cheering for Hounsou and Michael Sheen.

--RC of

Vertigo's Psycho said...

Hmmm, I guess I'll guess


Anonymous said...

Haley has 9 wins now (!!!) and his latest is from Iowa were Little Children also took Best Pic, and Leo took Best Actor for The Departed....and Jackie has a great chance of being nommed and even has a chance to win...

Anonymous said...

What I just also noticed is that Brad Pitt's track record is looking like Nicole Kidman for Moulin Rouge...she was snubbed for the BAFTA'S AND SAG but she was nommed for Ensemble...and that's looking exactly like Brad's...but I think his two co-stars are taking away his light...and it doesn't matter if he wins the Globes cause the votes are already in...

Glenn Dunks said...

You know what I'd love? For Oscar to throw a curveball and nominate someone like Stanley Tucci or Steve Carell.

Anonymous said...

Or Pan's Labyrinth's Sergei Lopez. How cool would that be?

ePastor James said...

It's weird how people still doubt precursor leader Haley. I think he'll be in.

01. Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
02. Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
03. Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
04. Jack Nicholson, The Departed
05. Michael Sheen, The Queen
06. Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
07. Mark Wahlberg, The Departed
08. Ben Affleck, Hollywoodland
09. Brad Pitt, Babel
10. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed

I can TOTALLY see AMPAS putting DiCaprio in lead for BD and supporting for TD. I mean, why wouldn't they vote the same way they voted at SAG.

But anyway, Murphy's an obvious lock--for a NOM, that is. Haley I'd say is the next in line. I mean, there were cheers for him when the SAG names were called (Leo got more and Adriana received the most overall). Plus, having Winslet as a cast member will help keep you on people's minds. It's a great benefit. But I think they love their comebacks enough to nominate him--and the 9 precursor wins don't hurt. Speaking of comebacks, Arkin's made a nice return to glory. Hell, he could actually walk away with the prize. He's in a beloved movie and is a hilarious old vet.

Now, Nicholson missed out and that IS telling. Even if he is dear old lovable Jack, if they REALLY loved this performance, wouldn't both he AND Leo have gotten in? Methinks that would be the case. However, if the Academy listened and replaced Blood Diamond with The Departed, then Leo should stick in lead and Jack in supporting. Then, I think Sheen will upset by riding in on Mirren's coattails. Pitt feels out--he NEEDED SAG. There's Babel love, but it's ALL for the ladies. Affleck has disappointed and might seem like one of those potential bridesmaids who was left out of the bridal party this year. And Hounsou, SAG nod or not, might not be the type of performance the Academy will support--but there's certainly enough support there that he could still make it. I just not sure how many will rank him high on their lists. After that, I'd say Wahlberg might only get in if The Departed love is so strong, it's unstoppable. And there are plenty who feel he deserves more attention than Jack and Matt combined.