Sunday, January 18, 2015

Awards-Nazi Award Nominations: Supporting Actor

Onward we march in my drawn-out unveiling of 2014's best cinematic achievements. Today the focus is on Best Supporting Actor.

Unlike in my recently unveiled Best Original Screenplay ballot, I find there is a dearth of quality in this category. I'm sure you'll immediately notice that my top five are nearly identical to the SAG, Globes, BAFTA, and Oscar slate (save for one obvious non-contender who should've received more consideration anyway). It's not that I particularly enjoy lining up with the everybody else, but I couldn't find a whole lot of alternatives that I felt okay nominating myself. When different groups are in this much agreement at the nomination stage, it's often an indicator of a weak year.

But enough griping, because these five performances are still excellent -- whether or not they had any competition:

ETHAN HAWKE in Boyhood
Hawke is delightful as Mason and Samantha's father, who is all too self-aware of his faults as a parent but never gives up on trying to make a positive difference in their lives. His easy-going wisdom is juxtaposed by the fact that he still has a lot of growing up to do, and Hawke ties all those character details together beautifully.

TOBY KEBBELL in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Andy Serkis is always the one getting whispered about for awards consideration whenever Weta churns out another impressive mo-cap performance, but the Most Valuable Primate this time around is his co-star Toby Kebbell, whose complex Iago-like villain makes a lasting impression with his threatening body language and menacing scowl.

Norton is hilarious and committed in playing the raging id to Michael Keaton's harried ego. He's more than just a one-note comic creation, though, as evidenced in his quieter dialogues with Emma Stone. It's a shame his character peters out with not much to do towards the end, but his temperamental bite is a highlight in every scene he crashes.

MARK RUFFALO in Foxcatcher
Ruffalo is quiet as a mouse yet solid as a rock in playing a character whose true thoughts and feelings are always lurking just beneath the surface of the page. He gets no shocking outburst scene like his costars Tatum and Carell, but he makes just as strong an impact in moments of total silence.

J.K. SIMMONS in Whiplash
Not since R. Lee Ermey's obscenity-gushing drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket has the cinema seen such a sadistic and inhumane mentor. But Simmons isn't merely playing a simplistic villain, because however contemptuous he is to his students, we can always feel his authentic passion for the music coming to a boil.
A raging boil.

Just missed:
JOSH BROLIN in Inherent Vice
JAMES CORDEN in Begin Again
BEN KINGSLEY in The Boxtrolls
CHRIS PINE in Into the Woods
FABRIZIO RONGIONE in Two Days, One Night


  1. My nominations as of now -

    Edward Norton (Birdman)
    Joaquin Phoenix (The Immigrant)
    Chris Pine (Into The Woods)
    J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
    Christolph Waltz (Big Eyes)

  2. Best Supporting Actor:

    Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
    Edward Norton - Birdman
    Chris Pine - Into the Woods
    Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
    J.K. Simmons - Whiplash

  3. This was an incredibly bleak year. I agree that Kibbell should have received more notice and admiration this year, and like you, my choices were similar to that of the BAFTAs, SAGs, etc.

    My choices were Brolin, Kibbell, Norton, Ruffalo, and Simmons.

  4. Great set! I'm even pleased to see James Corden in the running, who gives this wonderful little supporting, supportive, performance that not many would recognize.

  5. You know it is a weak year when you are considering a voice-over performance for a primary acting category, am I right?

    1. No, you're not right. I consider voice-over and technology-assisted performances every year, no matter how competitive. Just last season I sprung for ScarJo in 'Her'.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Exactly. I am actually a big advocate for voice-over performances and think that they should be more noticed in the industry, and for that, I am really happy that you were considering Ben Kingsley for The Boxtrolls.

      And between you and me, I was considering Cate Blanchett for How To Train Your Dragon 2 for Best Sup. Actress category in my mock awards, but she just missed.

    4. That's a really great mention though, Blanchett's voice really does radiate well with maternal warmth.