Academy of One: Best Actor in a Supporting Role 2012

These are my opinions and feelings. I do not represent the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and I have no power to revoke or award Academy Awards. Consider this an alternate universe, where everything is the same except which movies get recognition and which should fade out. Also, SPOILER ALERT! I may be spilling major details about several films.

Unlike last week, I’ve definitely got some ideas to shake up this category. Fans of a certain actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) may be getting some good news, but… they might not want to get their hopes up. There’s always room for upheaval.

All right, here’s the list of nominees as they stand now.

  • Alan Arkin - Argo

  • Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master

  • Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln

  • Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained

All of these men have been nominated for Oscars before and all in this category. Four of them won their respective Oscars for this category, but I don’t think this is the best group to represent the actors of this year. Here are a few men I think can easily slip into this category.

  • Javier Bardem - Skyfall

  • Don Cheadle - Flight

  • Leonardo DiCaprio - Django Unchained

  • Dwight Henry - Beasts of the Southern Wild

  • Irrfan Khan - Life of Pi

Javier Bardem is an actor that can slip into either the hero or villain role easily, so with the task of creating a memorable Bond villain, it’s no surprise that he’s that good. His Silva is so fresh and delectable, it’s hard not to love watching him chew up the scenery.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Flight is definitely Denzel Washington’smovie, but Don Cheadle’s character is the only one to be able to face him toe to toe and tell him what’s what in the most understated ways. It’s the perfect balance of measured, thinking ego to Washington’s id driven character.

Yes, I did choose Leonardo DiCaprio’s truly despicable slave owner for my group. Calvin Candie is likely one of the worst human beings ever put on screen. He’s relentlessly cruel, unconscionably apathetic to other human beings and DiCaprio is able to play him to perfection.

If Quvenzhane Wallis is the heart of Beasts of the Southern Wild, then Dwight Henry is its cold logic. He’s able to inhabit this role of the alcoholic, dying father and let him breathe his last breaths as a teacher and provider in his own cruel way. The catharsis at the end of the film is earned as we see Henry’s light touches and hints throughout the film.

I told you he’d be back, there’s no doubt he’ll be back again either. Irrfan Khan plays the older version of Pi Patel with equal parts great storyteller and man with a tremendous burden on his soul. It’s an unusual story and Khan is able to make us believe in the reality he presents.

O.K., now that I have my men lined up, I’m going to see if they can knock anyone off the pedestal. I have two in mind to take the place of two on the list. Here’s that original list again.

  • Alan Arkin - Argo

  • Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master

  • Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln

  • Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained

I found my two actors and I’ll start with the one on the top of this list, Alan Arkin. He’s a good actor. He’s been a good actor for a long time, but this particular role feels like the role he won his Oscar for, minus the lovable moppet tagging along for the ride.

The next actor on the block is the original winner of this category, Christoph Waltz. Again, he’s a good actor, but really this role is just kind of so-so. It really isn’t that flashy and in truth it’s the white savior role that really bugs me about a film like Django Unchained. He’s the one who sparks our hero into action and saves his life more than once. I feel his character is only useful because they needed a character who was outside the slavery system and could cringe along with us at the brutality of history.

Now, here are the two actors I will add to the list of nominees.

  • Leonardo DiCaprio - Django Unchained

  • Dwight Henry - Beasts of the Southern Wild

With those additions, here’s what our list looks like now.

  • Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook

  • Leonardo DiCaprio - Django Unchained

  • Dwight Henry - Beasts of the Southern Wild

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master

  • Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln

Now that I have my list, and have eliminated the original winner, I surely can’t be crazy enough to not hand the win to DiCaprio now, right? I mean, I brought him onto the list, right? He’s a walk-on with so much potential, right?

Yes, but did I pick him? Short answer, no.

There is a separate reason to call this film The Master. Not only because it’s about a man with a group of people in his thrall, who would do anything he asks, but also because it describes Philip Seymour Hoffman perfectly.

He is a master of his craft and it is no more apparent than in one of the first party scenes as a man from outside his influence challenges the bullshit he’s spouting to rubes.

He’s able to maintain his composure as the man pokes hole after hole in his theory, but as his blood boils at the thought of this interloper, his restraint is challenged and his composure is loosened until he’s shouting vehemently and punctuates his paragraph and his point with a resounding, “pig, fuck!” to describe the man and end his argument.

It’s truly a magnificent scene in a film where there are so many chances for Hoffman to be whimsical, commanding, endearing, and terrible. It’s an astounding performance and one that I haven’t been able to and haven’t wanted to stop thinking about since I first saw it.

All right, it looks like they’ve started the music. That wraps us up for this week. So, between now and next week you can find me on Twitter @zyoungs108, you can like my Facebook page @zachyoungswrites, and visit my website, www.zachyoungs.com for links to where you can buy my self-published works. Here on my blog you may also be interested to read a few serialized blog stories that I post every Wednesday and Sunday.

A new post of Academy of One will be available every Friday on this very site.

Thanks for reading. I can’t wait to dive in with you next Friday when I dive in to the Best Actress in a Leading Role nominees for 2012.

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