With Oscar ballots in the mail and the first round of fine flicks already in theaters, I thought I’d offer up a handful of Round 1 potential Oscar nomination candidates.
Best Supporting Actor
Javier Bardem – No Country For Old Men
In this film Bardem is a presence – he terrifies –while uttering little dialogue, never showing remorse, and always seeking revenge. Hand over the statue now and nobody gets hurt.
Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton
Playing a top attorney teetering on the brink of self-destruction, Wilkinson gives the film’s best performance, staying just this side of over-the-top.
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Charlie Wilson’s War
Ever a true chameleon Hoffman steals the show from Ton Hanks and Julia Roberts (who was rather painfully miscast in her role as a wealthy Texas socialite with a political agenda). Hoffman is brilliant as the spiteful and deadpan Gust Avrakotos, whose ego is as big as his mustache.
James McAvoy – Atonement
Everybody loves an epic war-torn romance-drama (as long it’s not Cold Mountain), and Atonement’s success hinges on the two lead performances – not least of which is McAvoy’s. As the Sabrina-ish son-to-“the help” Robbie Turner, McAvoy’s painful war scenes alone are deserving of a nom.
Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises
If you weren’t startled by Mortensen’s turn as Nikolai, the right-hand man to the head of a Russian crime family, perhaps you missed his completely naked bathhouse knife-fight scene.
There will probably be some talk about George Clooney (Michael Clayton), but as much as Clooney is a great entertainer/performer, his performance here lacks a soft vulnerability. Clooney doesn’t let his guard down enough to fully realize his character, and with the likes of Mortensen and Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) in the running, he shouldn’t have to worry about an acceptance speech.
Keira Knightley – Atonement
As the cold and love-starved Cecilia Tallis, Knightley plays this role better than anyone could have done it, infusing real emotion into a period piece.
Ellen Page – Juno
After viewing Juno a second time, I realized the reason I love this film is thanks to a pitch-perfect performance by Ms. Page. Her deft handling of the smart-alecky dialogue maximizes every line, and when Juno lets her guard down, realizing she doesn’t “know what kind of girl she is,” or veers off the road to cry in her mini-van, it just kills me.
When all is said and done, Knightley may walk away with a statue, but my heart will always belong to Page.
(I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Keri Russell wind up in the running for her role in Waitress.)
Best Supporting Actress
Usually this category is packed with greats, but the field is looking a little sparse.
Currently, bets are on Saoirse Ronan, the young girl with a wild imagination in Atonement, and Tilda Swinton, the no-nonsense businesswoman in Michael Clayton. But, I’d say it’s anybody’s game. Heaven knows Amy Adams will wind up nominated for something.
Stay tuned for Round Two – we’ll find out if Johnny Depp, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Paul Dano should ready their tuxes.