Sunday’s race for Best Supporting Actor is an odd mix of nominees and performances. There is a clear frontrunner for a reason. And while the voting may seem pro forma, this is the Oscars.
And the nominees are..
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
A good movie. A great performance by a great actor. Really enjoyable. Truly. We are trying to get there. We really are. But is wasn’t a holy-sh!t-drop-your-jaw performance. Especially when you look down this list at the competition. We are thrilled he’s invited to the party, and hope he comes back again.
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Some people take a role at the last minute. Not Christopher Plummer. It was like 20 past midnight when he took this role. After Kevin Spacey was accused (and kinda sorta apologized) of preying on young guys and having predatory tendencies on set, producers decided to reshoot all of his scenes with Plummer. They did this only a month before the release date. This is a great nod not only to Chris for stepping in and nailing the role, but also for rewarding for the #MeToo movement. But does it stand above the other nominees? Nope.
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Richard Jenkins, perhaps best known as the ghost father in Six Feet Under, turns in a good performance in and excellent film. As an ostracized homosexual in the sixties, he is one of several misfits in a love story. But at the end of the day, much like Octavia Spencer’s role in the film, his role is disposable. While part of a supporting actor/actress’ job is to add color to a film, they can also grab the role by the throat and dominate the film, much like Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight or Allison Janney in I, Tonya. This does not happen here.
Sam Rockwell & Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Our final two nominees come from the same movie. Woody Harrelson plays a sheriff getting called out for not solving the brutal murder of a woman’s daughter. Sam Rockwell plays the drunk, racist deputy. Both performances are strong. But due to plot requirements (no spoilers here), Woody exits the film early.
Sam Rockwell’s character grows and makes the audience become more sympathetic to him even though he’s just as much as a racist jerk as he was at the beginning of the film.
Sam won the Golden Globe and the SAG, and we totally expect him to complete the trifecta on Sunday.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
A Missouri Mule, cuz the winning movie is set in Missouri and everyone’s stubborn as a mule.