Steve’s 2013 Oscar Predictions, Part 2: Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actor Nominations

Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips

Bradley Cooper for American Hustle

Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street

Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave

Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

Jared-Leto-Dallas-Buyers-Clubamerican-hustle-bradley-cooper

Will Win: Jared Leto

Should Win: Jared Leto or Bradley Cooper

Could Win: Michael Fassbender

Best Hollywood Ending Win: Barkhad Abdi

The acting categories are loaded with great performances this year. As evidence, there are at least three supporting actors for whom there was no room: James Gandolfini for Enough Said, Daniel Bruhl for Rush and Jeremy Renner for American Hustle. Gandolfini and Bruhl had the misfortune of doing splendid work in movies that weren’t big enough. Only four of the twenty acting nominees for 2013 were in films that were not nominated for Best Picture compared to six for 2012 and eleven (over half!) for 2011. Those four are from only two additional movies, Blue Jasmine and August: Osage County, with two each in the actress categories. Is there a trend towards placing too much focus on the year’s biggest films? Maybe, maybe not, but it would have been nice to have Gandolfini nominated here rather than Jonah Hill. Renner was in a Best Picture nominated film, but he couldn’t beat out Cooper from his own movie. His part was smaller than the big four actors from Hustle, but his vital role gave that movie its heart.

As for those who did make the cut, a case could be made for any one of four of them walking away with the golden statue. The only one whose win would be a huge surprise is Jonah Hill. Actually, his nomination itself was a bit of a surprise, but shows that there is some love for Wolf in Hollywood. I thought it was great, but my initial impression was that Hill was just adequate in it. After he was nominated I gave his performance more thought, and although his performance was on the wild side, it was wild in just the right way for this movie. That is what actors are supposed to do, isn’t it? So, I’m o.k. with him being nominated, but in this field of candidates he has little to no chance of winning.

Barkhad Abdi’s chance of winning rests on the hope that the voters like a good story. It is a good story: an immigrant from Somalia is discovered working as a chauffer in Minneapolis and is cast in a key role despite having no acting experience. An Oscar would give this story a great Hollywood ending. His performance was one of the best things about Captain Phillips and he did win the BAFTA, so he could pull off a win here, but there are certainly those who take these awards “seriously” who won’t vote for him, seeing his performance as a fluke rather than evidence of acting skill.

As for Fassbender, I wasn’t as impressed by 12 Years a Slave as many people are, and that goes for Fassbender’s performance in the movie, also. I’m still not sure what to think of it. I do think that his chance of winning depends on a sweep of the awards by 12 Years. I don’t think that will happen.

That leaves Leto and Cooper, with Leto clearly the favorite after his numerous wins throughout award season. I was turned off by his Golden Globes acceptance speech and when I subsequently saw Dallas Buyers Club I must confess that I was hoping to dislike his performance. I’m still not sure what to think of Leto himself, but I thought his performance was indeed golden. It’s an Oscar-bait role that could easily have been overplayed, but I thought Leto was perfect, so I’m fine with him winning. However, as good as he was, my vote goes to Bradley Cooper. In a movie where he was both playing the con and being conned he didn’t miss a beat. His performance was absolutely delightful. They say doing comedy won’t win you an Oscar, but what he does here is so much more than comedy. Like Fassbender, though, he probably needs a groundswell of support for Hustle to pull off the upset.

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