Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And the Winner Is... Christoph Waltz (Oscar's Undefined Category)

Oops, I forgot to cover Best Supporting Actor in my "best Oscar wins of past decade" list that we did for supporting actress, actress and actor. Now that the 2009 film year has its statues... the decade lists can finally wrap. Christoph Waltz swept nearly all of the 30ish (?) prizes that are given out each film year (from minor critics organizations to precursors to the big one itself, Oscar) but it didn't get tiring to see him win for his evil Nazi because he never repeated a speech. A neat trick that more sweepers should try and master.

Like Mo'Nique, another deserved sweeper, I do find it interesting to imagine what would have happened had he not been around this year. If Inglourious Basterds hadn't opened, would it have been Woody Harrelson (The Messenger) vs. Christopher Plummer (The Last Station) down to the finish line? Or does the whole chemistry of a category change if one element is removed? Theorize with me in the comments.

My favorite Oscar wins in supporting actor this decade are the following...

...with apologies to Jim Broadbent in Iris (2001). He was fantastic, sure, and he won at exactly the right time in his career (a rarity!) but I just wish it had been for his other 2001 picture... the one wherein he did backflips as master of ceremonies.

The favorites lists above means, just like in supporting actress, I feel that Oscar has had a weird three-year streak of tremendously good taste in what is undoubtedly the category in which they have the worst taste, historically speaking. At least as far as the makeup of their shortlists goes.

If Oscars were only handed out once a decade, I have no idea what my ballot would look like (tho' Chris Cooper's tremendous turn in Adaptation would surely be there). Looking over my own lists I seem to have lots of categorization problems. Oscar's own predilection for deeming lead roles supporting has resulted in lots of blurring and confusing of the lines and weirdly inconsistent reactions to the same, even from me, a known loudmouth opponent of their desire to pretend that people like "Robert Ford" are not the leads of three hour movies called The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford or that people who are in every scene of their movie are "supporting" bigger stars who are in only every other scene. Anyway... I can find few lists of my own OR Oscars that aren't all troubled with the "what is supporting?" concept and I am now completely fatigued of the troubles.


Oscars in Review: worst & weirdest moments, most wonderful moments and all 09/10 awards season posts


Jorge Rodrigues said...

You're so right Nathaniel, I was also thinking about who I'd pick for my supporting actors this decade and I have the category fraud problem as well...

For much I'd like to put Ledger in (and if we go by the choices made by the Academy, he'd definitely be in), I have to admit he's a co-lead in The Dark Knight so, no.

The same problem with Casey Affleck.

Excluding category frauds, I guess I'd pick five from these ten:

- Chris Cooper, Adaptation
- Jim Broadbent, Moulin Rouge!
- Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
- Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds
- Ian McKellen, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- Tim Robbins, Mystic River
- Clive Owen, Closer
- Jake Gylenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
- Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
- Jeff Bridges, The Contender

honduran said...

I really think if christoph waltz, would´ve not been this year, things would be very different for this category, specially because of the type of sweeper he was throughout all the season.
Maybe the academy would have spread their love to the acting in the hurt locker, and see a nomination for mackie, which i really like to think it was a close one.
Final thoughts : This would have been the toughest category to predict, with a 3-way race between harrelson, plummer and tucci.

Plummer : for being a sentimental hopeful, having a carrer spannig more than 50 years. Reminds me of Alan Arkin´s oscar.

Harrelson : Excellent actor,twice nominated, has done great jobs before, maybe a kate winlet-type award.

Stanley Tucci : his performances have been great recently, never nominated, time to acknowledge him and all his performances in the past 3 years.

Having 2 raved performances this year i think it would have benn Tucci´s to lose, definitely.

Ramification said...

If Waltz was not there then who would have been the 5th nominee? Perhaps Anthony Mackie and maybe he may go on to win as part of the Hurt Locker sweep

GFH said...

Interesting coincidence... Best in all acting categories except actress are the winners from 2002, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Fernando Moss said...

@Jorge Rodrigues: well, you said "excluding category frauds", but at least for me Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain and Jamie Foxx in Collateral are the BIGGEST category frauds this decade, both leads I think... and some people would make arguments about Bardem and Waltz, but I do think both of them as well as Ledger in The Dark Knight are supporting...

Chris Na Taraja said...

Does anyone else see a Chris Cooper/Jeremy Renner father/son film in the future. Am i inspired? Am I having a psychic moment? or am i just obsessed with Jeremy and want to se more of him....I mean we did see a lot fo him in THE HURT LOCKER, but really, i want more!

Marsha Mason said...

For whatever reason, the voting groups decided to make this category one for career achievement nominations for overdue actors. So I'm thinking next on their list would be Molina, not Mackie, who couldn't get noticed if he was standing in the middle of the year's most honored film.

We would have then had a race, but I'm betting it would have gone to Woody, by far the best performance of the remaining noms.

CanadianKen said...

My chronological five for the decade:
1. JUDE LAW "A.I."
2. DENNIS QUAID "Far From Heaven"
"Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers"
4. PHILIP BOSCO "The Savages"
5. ED HARRIS "Gone Baby Gone"
Honorable Mention:
Jake Gyllenhaal "Lovely
& Amazing"
Terrence Howard "Crash"
Matt Dillon "Crash"
Mickey Rourke "Sin City"
Ye Liu "Curse of the
Golden Flower"
Only one nominee among them - and no wins.

Robert Hamer said...

I never quite bought the idea that Ledger was a co-lead in The Dark Knight, so...

Best Supporting Actors of the Decade:

Clive Owen - Closer

Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men

Chris Cooper - Adaptation.

Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight

Benicio del Toro - Traffic

But I HATE leaving out Peter Sarsgaard in Shattered Glass and Mickey Rourke in Sin City...

Franco Marciano said...

Some more to the list:
Thomas Haden Church "Sideways" and Ben Kingsley "Sexybeast".

Steolicious said...

Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children
Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds
Jim Broadbent - Iris
Javier Bardem - No Country For Old Men
Phillip Seymoure Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War

10 Runners Up:
Chris Cooper - Adaptation,
Heath Ledger - Monster's Ball,
Benicio Del Toro - 21 Grams,
Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain,
Michael Caine - Children of Men,
Ralph Fiennes - The Duchess,
Tim Robbins - Mystic River,
Jim Carrey - Lemony Snicket,
Dustin Huffman - Das Parfum,
Eddie Marsan - Happy-Go-Lucky

John T said...

I tend to agree with honduran, it would have been a three-legged race between Tucci, Harrelson, and Plummer (with Alec Baldwin welcomed back with the fifth nomination). If that were the case, it would have depended on sentiment-Oscar seems willing to throw the legends to the wind (cough, Bacall), so I think Tucci would have emerged victorious over Plummer and Harrelson, but it would have been tight, and I don't think necessarily uniform across the awards season like this year.

Peter said...

I agree with the person who said Mackey could have snuck in and won it, or I could see Plummer getting a career win.

I would argue that four of the best winners in this category this decade all could easily be classified as Leads -- Waltz, Ledger, Bardem, and Benicio del Toro in Traffic. Plus of course Jamie Foxx in Collateral, Casey Affleck as mentioned, Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback, and Clive Owen in Closer. So excluding all the above, my top five (nominated roles only):

Chris Cooper, Adaptation
Christopher Walken, Catch Me if You Can
Mark Wahlberg, The Departed
Albert Finney, Erin Brockovich
Paul Newman, Catch Me if You Can

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

@Fernando Moss You're quite right, when I was making my ten choices I immediately put Gylenhaal and it totally splipped my mind that he was a co-lead in Brokeback.

And yes, if we are removing Ledger from the list, Waltz should probably be removed as well. And Bardem too.

Ben said...

My favorite winners:

-Chris Cooper, Adaptation
-Javier Bardem, No Country
-Benicio del Toro, Traffic
-Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
-Chritoph Waltz, Inglorious

My favorite of the decade (not in order):
-Chris Cooper, Adaptation
-Clive Owen, Closer
-Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
-Steve Buscemi, Ghost World
-Javier Bardem, No Country

Overall, I'd say the winners this decade were not as strong as the actors. Definitely some decent but unremarkable filler- Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman, George Clooney.

Fernando Moss said...

@Jorge Rodrigues: it's just that sometimes the lines between leading and supporting can be so confusing, don't you think?

adam k. said...

I'm pretty sure Harrelson would've taken it. In fact, I'm quite sure.

He was the ONLY one to win anything over Waltz, and the only one to ever have any kind of upset "winner" buzz going. He'd been nominated before and was in a well-liked, baity film.

Plummer, I think, might've won in the end, but I doubt it. No one really seemed to care about The Last Station, and very few people saw it. Tucci I don't think had any shot at all, and I don't get why so many people are claiming otherwise. Lovely Bones bombed, no one liked it, and he was its only nomination. I think people only nominated him out of a sense of obligation (due to his year, and career as a whole), and out of laziness. But he wouldn't have won since no one liked the film. And if Meryl couldn't win for J&J, I doubt he could've won for that either.

Mackie I think would've been nominated - they had a chance to make history by nominating an African American in every acting category, what happened? - but he wouldn't have won. Too much of a newbie, and too much of a quiet performance. It's more of an Ethan Hawke in Training Day or Jamie Foxx in Collateral type role... those don't win, especially if the actor isn't famous and his co-star isn't famous either. If Renner couldn't even win...

John T said...

See, Adam, I just don't see it-Harrelson may have won another award, but I don't see him having the kind of personal goodwill that Tucci or Plummer have in Hollywood, and though he has a previous nomination, part of the game is momentum, and both Tucci and Plummer have had that for years, whereas Harrelson just seemed to have reappeared.

brandz said...

favorite best supporting actor performances of the decade would be Jim Broadbent in Iris (far and away the very best performance, tender and understated, so moving, perfection) and Chris Cooper in Adaptation.

Volvagia said...

As everyone mentions the problem with judging who's a lead and who's a support, I would suggest this to the Academy: Arbitrators, who watch the movies and objectively evaluate performance length and tell the studios the truth, and add a third category.

Arguable between 30-50% of the screen time, unarguable if over 50% of the screentime.

Arguable between 30-50% of the screentime, unarguable from 5-29% of the screentime.

Any performance with less than 5% of the screen time. To show an example of how it's worthy Matt McConnaughey likely would have taken this in 1996.

Fernando Moss said...

mmm... but I think you can be in almost every scene of a movie and still be a supporting character... I think it has more to do with how the story develops...

Seth... said...

My top 5 of the decade would include Peter Sarsgaard (for what film?!?!?!), Jim Broadbent, Dennis Quaid, Benicio Del Toro and Jude Law.

1) Peter Sarsgaard / Jarhead (or Kinsey or Shattered Glass)
2) Dennis Quaid / Far From Heaven
3) Jude Law / I Heart Huckabees
4) Jim Broadbent / Moulin Rouge!
5) Benicio Del Toro / 21 Grams