The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor & Best Supporting Actress- 2004
2004 was a weird year. In fact, it may be the closest approximation to 2010 that we have from the past decade. In 2004, a veteran beat an electric supporting performance by a younger man in Supporting (which may or may not happen later this month), a female so inhabited her character that people had no choice to vote for her over the young “up-and-comer” who was astounding in her film (which, Natalie Portman was a veteran by this point, having been acting for a decade, but to the Academy she was essentially an up-and-comer), and the Best Picture went to a film that was an “in-the-moment” film that no one even remembers 6 years out, despite the fact that a brilliant piece of filmmaking went completely overlooked.
I remember being back in 2004, being swept up, like the Academy, by Million Dollar Baby, thinking it was a great and emotional film. Now, I look back and think, “What the fuck was I thinking? The Aviator is a brilliant movie.” I remember even rooting for Eastwood over Scorsese that year just because Scorsese was the huge favorite to win. How stupid was I? Granted, I was only 16, but still, that was so stupid of me. Anyway, let’s get supportive.
Best Supporting Actor – 2004
And the nominees were…
Alan Alda, The Aviator
Thomas Haden Church, Sideways
Jamie Foxx, Collateral
Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
Clive Owen, Closer
Alan Alda — Fifth nomination. Veteran nom. Everyone was expecting David Carradine to go here, but no one really thought that was gonna happen. People were wondering who was gonna get that fifth spot, and Alda got in. Okay, that’s cool. He’s Alan Alda. We like him. It’s fine. But he really didn’t do anything in this performance to warrant a nomination. So, you know, we deal. Not gonna vote for him anyway. Basically, he’s a corrupt senator working with Alec Baldwin, who is the head of the rival airline to Howard Hughes’ company. And he organizes a big senate hearing, designed to humiliate Hughes, who has huge privacy issues, in exchange for donations, trips, and a chair on a committee. It’s one of those roles that would have been nominated in the 40s, but now it just seems weird. Whatever, Alan Alda is cool.
Thomas Hayden Church — We all know my feelings on this film. I don’t like it. I didn’t understand why everyone liked it. Church was fine in the role, but, considering I hate the movie, I’m obviously not going to speak that well of the performance. So, yeah. He got in here. Shouldn’t have won. Move on.
Jamie Foxx — This would have been a deserving nomination — had he not been the lead in the movie. But, it’s one of those, “Dude, you did real good this year. We’re gonna give you the big statue, this is just to let you know we like you, bro,” nominations. I can’t in good conscience vote for him because he’s the lead and because his actual lead role in Ray was by far the better performance and greatly deserved the statue he got. But, he’s great in this movie. So is Cruise. And actually, Cruise would have made more sense going supporting. He would have fit in here just fine. At least, he’s less of a lead than Foxx is (not by much, but still, you could at least make the argument). Love this movie, though. Watch for the Javier Bardem cameo. Dude makes a hell of an impact in one scene.
Morgan Freeman — Yeah — he was gonna win this. It’s sad, but it’s what happens. He wasn’t astounding in this film, but it was the easiest year to give him the award because the year didn’t really have a performance that out and out deserved to win. I mean, I liked Clive Owen’s performance better, but, I can’t say definitively that he was robbed of an Oscar. He just didn’t win. It’s a shame. Morgan Freeman has been around long enough that he did deserve an Oscar. Supporting, too, since he’s mostly a supporting actor. This was the perfect year for it to happen, and I don’t have a problem with it. As a performance though…meh. It’s just, Morgan Freeman. Gravelly. Gravitas. Gravitatum. Gravitis. You know. It won’t rank well because I’m ranking how I liked the performance. It’s pretty middle of the road. But he did deserve the statue. So…
Owen — This was the best performance in this category. At least the best actual supporting performance. In a way he’s kind of the lead, but he’s more supporting than Jamie Foxx is, so, it’s acceptable. There are four people in the movie. They’re all the leads. But in a way, the film does sort of treat him as though he’s in support of Julia. He’s a dentist who is married to Julia, and she goes off and fucks Jude Law, who is weird and creepy (both the actor and the character, to clarify), and was/is/something married/dating/something Natalie Portman/something, and there’s this weird love quadrangle thing going on, where Owen goes to Natalie, who is working as a stripper, and … well, it’s not worth trying to explain. Basically, it’s one of those relationship dramas that’s really not great as a film, but is essentially a play, so, the actors have a chance to shine. And Owen and Portman are tops here. So, he gets my vote. See it for the performances. Otherwise the movie itself isn’t very good.
My Thoughts: Owen was the best performance. Freeman deserved a statue but not for this. So, I vote for Owen but am okay with Freeman winning because, rarely does the best performance actually win. That would just be stupid.
Best Supporting Actress – 2004
And the nominees were…
Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Laura Linney, Kinsey
Virginia Madsen, Sideways
Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda
Natalie Portman, Closer
Cate Blanchett — Damn. I mean, damn. She does a pretty good Kate Hepburn. I mean, it’s not perfect, but what can be? It veers a bit into caricature at points and veers a bit too much into Cate Blanchett at points, but it’s a hell of a performance. Richly deserved Oscar. Which hurts a tiny bit, because Natalie Portman was amazing. But, that should be made up for in three weeks. So, we’re all good.
Laura Linney — She plays Alfred Kinsey’s wife, who was formerly one of his students, until he started fucking her. And at first, she can’t fuck, because of some vaginal shaping issues, but once they fix that, she discovers she likes to fuck lots. Then she helps him with his sex research and fucks other people with him. You know, you know. She’s the dutiful wife who’s around for the whole film as the husband goes and does shit. Woman behind the man, thing. Then he gets behind her, you know what I’m saying. So, it’s a nice role and all. Never gonna win, but nice to see Laura Linney get in here.
Virginia Madsen — Yeah…this movie again. Don’t get it. Really don’t get it. She’s just kinda — there. Whatever. You’re not getting any praise out of me.
Sophie Okonedo — Yeah, I don’t remember her having done much in this movie. In fact, I didn’t much care for this movie one way or another. I know that’s blasphemy to say, but I like to give people as many chances to call me a racist as humanly possible. I just thought the movie was boring. I never buy into the whole, just because it’s about something important means the movie is any good, line of thinking. I was not moved by this movie. I thought Cheadle did a good job, but that’s about it. So, here, Sophie, who I remember from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (she’s the princess he fucks, that’s supposed to be a virgin at the end, but isnt — “They can tell that?”) — we all have our own frames of reference. Anyway, she’s the daughter, and, she just kind of exists. You know. I really don’t remember her having much to do here, but, I could be wrong. Either way, I don’t really remember her being amazing, so, yeah, whatever.
Natalie Portman — Goddamn, she did a great job in this movie. I mean, I’m not voting for her just because I’m all about the Hollywood and the Hollywood history, so Cate gets my vote, but damn, Natalie outacted everyone in this movie (which, admittedly isn’t that hard, since Jude Law is playing creepy and a bitch, Clive Owen held his own, but is more of a tone down actor, and horse smile over there is, well — Julia’s got her own thing. But still, Natalie does a fucking fantastic job in this movie. She steals the entire film away from them. Seriously, I said it up there — watch this movie. It’s not amazing amazing, but it’s definitely worth the watch. Just sit there and pick what you think the best performances are and rank them (it’s easy, there literally are only four people in the movie). It will, 85% of the time come out with Natalie or Clive on top and Jude and Julia bringing it up in the rear (two anal jokes in one category! I am smooth today. Grease is the word). Anyway, Natalie is aces here.
My Thoughts: Sorry, Natalie, but I’m a Hollywood guy. That Kate Hepburn performance is gonna get the vote over you 9 times out of 10. But it’s cool, since you’re doing the same thing to Michelle Williams this year. She’s the new you in that race. So, vote’s for Blanchett, but Natalie is awesome. Close second. Very close.