The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor & Best Supporting Actress – 2005
Ah, 2005, the year of the controversy. Everything changed after this. Even the Academy had to lay low for a few years (5, to be exact) before returning to their babies. This year was like when Michael Corleone killed McCluskey and Sollozo and had to duck out to Sicily for a while. Personally — and we’ll get to this when I go over the categories — I agree with the sentiment, but not with the film. But, they definitely fucked up. It was a strange time in their lives. You know, they were drunk, and were feeling fat that day, and had just talked to their mother, and just weren’t ready to make the commitment. Anyway, let’s start from the support. Then we can get to the lead dogs and the big picture. Actually, this is kind of like second base. Take out the support towers, infiltrate the facility then get in, do your thing and get out. I totally just compared the Oscars to sex vis a vis the analogy of a spy mission. I also just used vis a vis. That’s a keeper.
Best Supporting Actor – 2005
And the nominees were…
George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt, A History of Violence
Clooney — I liked this performance. I liked the movie better, but this is one of those deals where, the actor is very likable, and that’s 80% the reason why they won, but they also gave a good performance, but it’s not 100% vote-worthy. Well, I guess that’s a matter of opinion. He’s probably the best on here. This one is really a matter of opinion vote. I’m not sure there’s really a clear consensus winner here.
Clooney plays one of those career CIA guys. The ones who do all the dirty work but get none of the credit and the promotions. He’s stuck on the shitty missions, in all of the danger, and if something happens, it’s his ass, because he’s not worth saving in their eyes. After a mission, he sees a missile that isn’t where it’s supposed to be, and starts writing to his superiors about it. This makes them nervous (because, it’s the government, clearly they’re dealing under the table and don’t want to get caught), and they reassign him to a desk job. However, he’s one of those Gust Avrakotos types who speaks his mind. So, very fast, he pisses someone off. One of those people they’re yessing to death, “Oh, yeah, it’s all under control. We’re gonna kill every terrorist in time for the news.” And he’s like, “Yeah, this is all fucked. We really have no fucking idea what we’re doing.” So, very quickly, he’s back out in the field, assigned to assassinate someone. However, he gets kidnapped and tortured, and it’s very likely the government is behind it and made sure he was caught. Then he goes on a mini-crusade (yes, the word choice was intentional) to figure out why they did it to him. It’s a good performance. I’m still undecided where my vote is going, but he’s definitely very much in the running. Plus he directed Good Night and Good Luck, which we’ll get into in more detail once we get to the other categories.
Also of note, this motherfucker knows. And he’s willing to say it. This is why everyone likes him. Going into Oscar night, people were like, “Well, they’re going to want to reward him, so Supporting is the way to give him something without having to award him Best Director or Best Picture.” They voted for him here so they wouldn’t feel as compelled to vote for him there. And as soon as he won the award, the first thing he says up at the podium is, “I guess this means I won’t be winning Best Director…”
This man can do no wrong.
Dillon — Yeah, he was good and all, and I like that he was nominated, but he’s definitely not getting my vote. The category’s too strong. It’s nice to see the recognition though.
He plays a racist cop who burns through partners like porn sets burn through towels. He’s so obviously racist it’s amazing. And at the same time, he’s taking care of his sick father, who’s got a kidney infection or something. That’s about it. He eventually saves a black woman he felt up at a traffic stop from a car wreck. Yeah. It’s that kind of movie. Matt Dillon is cool though, so we like him. His brother is awesome too.
Giamatti — Yeah. Makeup nomination. People cried foul (even though it was totally fair) that he wasn’t nominated for Sideways. This was almost certainly because of that. And also because Cinderella Man wasn’t that great a movie but was huge Oscar bait, but they knew A Beautiful Mind already overstepped its boundaries and didn’t want to nominate Ron Howard again (didn’t stop them in ’08 though), so they figured they’d pay all debts with this nomination. He was never gonna win. The internet was saying he was gonna win — bullshit. They’re biased toward Giamatti and I’m biased against him. Somewhere in the middle, the truth lies. It’s closer to them. I’m sure he got votes, but he was never going to win. I’ll keep saying it, but really don’t like him that much as an actor. He’s a cool guy and all, but I just don’t like watching him on screen. Weak link in this category for me.
Gyllenhaal — He did a good job, but he just seems so young. I have a hard time seeing actors give good performances but also not fully be actors yet. I said this about Leo in Gangs of New York — he did a good job, but I saw too much Leo in it. It was him transitioning from teenager actor to adult actor, and the transition showed. Here, I saw Jake Gyllenhaal transitioning from whatever he was into an actor. And that’s never a role you win for. At first he was way too wild and over the top, and then he made it seem like he was doing more than he did by subduing himself entirely by the end. After this though, he learned to smooth the edges. In here though is a good performance. Soon he’ll give a complete performance that warrants the win. Here he did okay, but no way would I vote for him. Solid #3 though. I mean, he did take it up the ass in this.
Hurt — I fucking loved this performance. The best part about it is, you don’t know it’s coming. If you’ve seen the film, you know it’s about Viggo Mortensen as a small town guy, married, regular life, fucks his wife on the stairwell from time to time — you know how it is. He works at a diner, and one day two men come in, attempting to rob the place. He kills them both out of self defense. The media catches onto it, and in doing so, it’s discovered (by us, not the media) that he used to be a mobster in Philadelphia and that his old mobster friends are very interested in seeing him again. And Ed Harris shows up, all gooey face and all, covered in scars, clearly given to him by Viggo, and he terrorizes the family in a sort of Max Cady meets Don Logan kind of way. Very much, just come with me, and also, terrorizing them without really doing anything. Finally other mobsters show up, and Viggo kills most of them, and eventually decides the only way to end it is to go see his brother Richie. They talk about it all film, “Richie wants to see you.” And it’s almost like a Colonel Kurtz or a Harry Lime in a way. This character is hanging over the entire film and then finally shows up, and then this is what you get:
That’s basically the entire performance. Plus one more little gag afterward and then a — well, an ending. One of them dies. It’s pretty obvious who. But I won’t spoil it. I really loved this performance. It’s clear they were never going to vote for him, but, to me, this is the essence of a supporting performance.
My Thoughts: It’s really between Clooney and Hurt, and to a much, much lesser extent, Gyllenhaal. So, I say, knowing Clooney was the heavy favorite to win this — as they wanted to give him something for the amazing year he had, and it certainly wasn’t going to be Best Director — I’ll probably vote for Hurt, even though he didn’t have a chance in hell at winning. I’m perfectly happy with Clooney winning, and am throwing my vote behind Hurt because I really enjoyed the performance and want to turn people onto the performance.
Best Supporting Actress – 2005
And the nominees were…
Amy Adams, Junebug
Catherine Keener, Capote
Francis McDormand, North Country
Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardner
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
Adams — Holy shit, this is a performance. It’s in an indie movie — one of those “quirky” indie movies — so, around the performance you have to deal with boring, mostly mediocre film. But, if you can get passed that and just watch the performance itself — actually, I rarely promote doing this, but because I really don’t think the movie is great around the performance — here are wonderfully designed videos to just show you the performance itself.
If you haven’t seen the film, before you get into the clips, know, the film is essentially a son coming back home to see his family with his wife. They live in a small town, he wanted to get out, have a life outside the town, so he moved to the city and married a British woman. She’s an art dealer. That kind of set up. Indie movie madness. Then, they go home, and Amy Adams is the guy’s brother’s wife, who’s been dating him since high school and is now pregnant with their child. And she’s so insanely naive and innocent, it’s scary. You know the typical Amy Adams performance, and you know how it works every time? Well, think of that, before you knew who Amy Adams was. The only thing she was in before this was Catch Me If You Can, and even then no one really knew her well enough for it to stick. So, this, was like lightning.
Also, so you don’t need to watch the film, or if you do, know that the description I gave you, plus these scenes, plus the fact that after that last scene in video two, the man and his wife go home, is essentially the entire film. That’s seriously how it ends. They go home. I just saved you 105 minutes.
Perfectly realized performance, right? Use that as a benchmark to measure the rest of the performances in this category.
Keener — Yeah. I like Catherine Keener, but — this is like Jeff Bridges being nominated for Crazy Heart and them then nominating Maggie Gyllenhaal as well. Support nom. Not a great performance by any stretch of the imagination. But it looks good, because she’s well respected, does good work, and she’s playing Harper Lee. So on paper it has all the markings of a nomination. And I’m fine with it. I just can’t vote for her because it’s clearly the weak link in the category.
McDormand — Here, fish, fish, fish — typical Oscar bait. The movie is about women working in coal mines who get constantly harassed by the men. And she’s the one that’s been doing it for years and years and has earned at least a little respect. And she becomes union rep for the women and stuff like that. She helps Charlize Theron as the old confidant and such. Then she gets diagnosed with ALS. And we see her on crutches, then in the hospital unable to speak. And she is unable to help Charlize when she files a lawsuit against the mine for allowing the harassment to happen. And then she shows up in the courtroom with a written note, because she can’t speak or move anymore, and it says, “I’m not fucking dead yet,” you know, because she’s a hard ass and all. So, clear Oscar bait. It’s fine, I guess, but no way does this come close to winning. We’ve seen it too many times, the category is strong, and she’s won before.
Weisz — Yeah. I’m very ambivalent about this. On the one hand, I love me some Rachel Weisz. I really do. I’ve loved her since The Mummy. But, on the other hand, the performance isn’t exactly what you’d call 100% worthy. It’s kind of a lead role, but also — I don’t know. She’s a humanitarian married to a diplomat, and works in Kenya and winds up dead. And we find out through flashbacks and such that she was murdered by a pharmaceutical company trying to keep her quiet. That whole deal. I really love Rachel Weisz, and while I’m happy she has an Oscar, I’m kind of upset that it came at the expense of Amy Adams and Michelle Williams. Now I really, really want them to get Oscars, because those two deserve it as much if not more than Rachel did/does.
Williams — This is a hell of a performance, because, in a way, she’s both the antagonist and not the antagonist. You’re supposed to, sort of, be aligned with these gay cowboys, and be hoping their love can conquer all. But she’s his wife, and knows about it, and is, in a weird way, holding them back. This would have been a great Douglas Sirk picture. Anyway, she basically is in like three scenes before she finds out. First, we see her as housewife, then, as — well, she gets anal. Reinforcing the whole gay thing during straight sex. Then, she finds out when she sees Ledger and Gyllenhaal kissing. And the rest of the movie she has to live with it on her conscience. And it’s a nice performance. Very well done. But, not quite vote material yet. It might be 99% of the time, but not this year. I vote it second best, and definitely a possibility for a vote, but —
My Thoughts: Like I said, while I’m not totally upset Rachel Weisz won, those other two were really fucking good. I guess not everyone can win. So, between Amy Adams and Michelle Williams — it’s Amy. It’s very definitely Amy. That performance is incredible.