The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor & Best Supporting Actress – 2007
Oh, this year. One mostly no-brainer and the other — well, what happened there? This year was actually a very good year for movies. I went back and looked — there are at least twenty legitimate good to great films that came out that year. It’s actually kind of incredible. But, in these races, well…
Best Supporting Actor – 2007
And the nominees were…
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Casey Affleck — This is sort of a quasi-lead performance, but, it’s more of an ensemble film. I’d have loved if Pitt got a Best Actor nom for this, because he deserved it. Actually, the film deserved a Best Picture nomination too, but, we’ll let that go.
Casey plays Bob Ford. The “Coward” in the title. He’s the dude who killed Jesse James. In case you, hadn’t figured that out. This has been shown twice before in film — Sam Fuller’s I Shot Jesse James, and Jesse James with Tyrone Power, with John Carradine (Yes!) playing Bob Ford — but never like this. It’s really a nuanced portrait of both James and Ford, showing how Ford was essentially groomed by James to kill him. It’s a fascinating film. And honestly, if I had to rank, would certainly be in my top ten or twenty favorites of all time.
Casey was really good in this. I can’t vote for him, and because of the stiff competition here (for the most part), I can only rank him third. But he is fucking great here. Sam Rockwell was great in this too. In fact, everyone in this film was pitch perfect. Even James Carville for the three whole minutes he’s on screen. This is one of those, you wish he gave it in a better year, because you want to vote for him but can’t.
Javier Bardem — This is the equivalent of the Heath Ledger performance. Something that’s so scary good you have to vote it. And by scary good I mean, scary, good. Because this motherfucker is so awesomely terrifying. And he has a great haircut. I don’t think anyone can truly disagree with this decision.
He kills people with a fucking air gun. I mean, come on.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman — Yeah, I’m not gonna lie, Javier Bardem was brilliant and all, but my vote goes here. He was brilliant in this movie. He stole every single scene he was in. What’s also brilliant about it is, unlike in other films, where they set up a character at the end of the previous scene like, “We’re going to need help on this. Who should we get?” “I have just the person”, and then we cut to that person, here, Aaron Sorkin (he wrote the script. It’s brilliant, as always) just let’s the character show up and introduce himself to us. Here: WATCH THIS … you will not find many better three minutes of dialogue and performance in most of cinema (especially post-2000). That scene alone shows you the kind of performance he gives. The film is fucking amazing too.
Hal Holbrook — Veteran nomination, pure and simple. He’s barely in the movie. And I mean like, barely. You remember when I said Alan Alda barely merited the nomination in The Aviator? Well, Holbrook is on screen even less than Alda. He is barely there. Purely because he’s old and liked. Good for him. Absolutely no chance of a vote though. Great film though. Check it out. I’m glad this is here just to raise some awareness for the film.
Tom Wilkinson — I hate having to rank this so low. He is fucking awesome in this movie. I mean, it’s a bit too over the top to qualify for a win (“I am Shiva the god of death” isn’t really something that stays low key), but he is phenomenal, and this was a well, well deserved nomination. He’s a lawyer who spent the last ten years defending a pharmaceutical company doing illegal things. You know, tying up the lawsuit and such and delaying it. And one day it seems like he suddenly snaps. Just goes nuts, taking off his clothes in the deposition room. And everyone needs to figure out why he’s doing what he’s doing, and — well, just check out the film. It’s like a 70s movie. It’s incredible.
My Thoughts: Bardem was great, he deserved his Oscar, but I can’t not vote for Hoffman. I just can’t. But I am still very happy Bardem won. So, really, everybody wins.
Best Supporting Actress – 2007
And the nominees were…
Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
Blanchett — Holy shit. That’s all I have to say. First, whosever idea it was to have Cate Blanchett play Bob Dylan is a genius. Second, this performance is more than genius. If you don’t know, I’m Not There is a film that explores the many aspects of Dylan’s personality based on different eras of his life, different songs of his or different characters of his songs. It’s a modern masterpiece in that, it’s a brilliant, unique piece of filmmaking that’s not entirely perfect, but is so much its own thing that everyone should see it. I definitely suggest you check it out.
Now, there are six Dylans. There is the young black twelve year-old Dylan. He’s a drifter, catching rides on trains and such. His side is encapsulated by “When the Ship Comes In.” That’s the song the boy sings that I remember best. It’s a brilliant cover. Check that one out. Then, there’s preacher Dylan, played by Christian Bale. He’s a singer converted to christianity and is now preaching. Then there’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” Dylan — with the cards and shit. I’m pretty sure that’s that teen guy that plays him in that era. Then there’s actor Dylan — that’s Heath Ledger. Then, there’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid Dylan, played by Richard Gere. Then, finally, there’s Cate Blanchett Dylan, which, is probably the incarnation of Dylan we know best. She plays him when he switches over from acoustic to electric, is hanging out with the Beatles and Alan Ginsberg, the 60s Dylan. This is the “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Ballad of a Thin Man” Dylan.
The best part about the film is that, none of the actors are actually playing Dylan. But, check out that video, and tell me that isn’t a great Bob Dylan. This is the kind of performance where, if it won, you could never really speak against it. It’s just — wow.
Dee — Yeah veteran nomination. I was rooting for her and all, but, this is really a veteran nomination. She didn’t do all that much, but, she’s awesome and I’m glad she got nominated. I can’t vote for her because the category’s so strong, but, I’m glad she’s here, she deserves it, and I’m glad the film got some recognition, because it’s awesome.
Ronan — Oh my god, this is incredible. The great thing about this character is that it’s essentially the entire film. She is the film. But, there are three versions of her. At 12, at 20, and at, whatever she is when she’s old. This is the 12 year old version. She’s a regular kid, for the most part. She thinks she’s the center of the universe, has no idea about the repercussions of her actions, things like that. Every kid is like that. She’s a writer, and has a play that she wants to perform, that no one else cares about, and is upset about that. And she sees, or so she thinks, the gardener, whom she has a crush on, sexually accost, I guess is the word, her older sister. Then later on, certain events happen that make her believe this to not only be true, but believe that he is dangerous as well. And eventually, something happens (a rape) that makes her automatically assume that he’s responsible. And she tells the authorities and her parents about it, asserting that she “saw him with (her) own eyes” even though she’s not entirely certain. And then the rest of the movie deals with the consequences of her actions. And it’s fucking incredible. This performance really deserved to win the award, in my opinion. Because, not only is the most important role in the film, but it’s brilliantly performed, and is receiving support from two other actresses playing the same role, making the character stand out even stronger. Seriously, this, to me, was a huge error when she didn’t win the award.
Ryan — I thought Amy Ryan did a tremendous job in this film. The film itself I enjoyed because Affleck’s direction was top notch. The story I thought was bland and predictable and the performances I felt were pretty generic because they didn’t exactly have great material to work with. It’s the dude who wrote the book Mystic River was based on, so we’re not exactly talking Shakespeare here. But, she is by far the standout performance in the film, as the junkie mother of a missing child. And she maintains she’s a good mother and wants her child, when she’s clearly unfit, but, there’s really nothing to definitively take the child away from her. It’s a really solid performance, and one that in another year would compete to win the category and my vote. But here, I just can’t. It’s too strong.
Swinton — Yeah, she was fine and all, but, in this category, she’s not a very strong contender. She’s not even the best performance in the film. The two better performances were also nominated and didn’t even win. This was really them awarding the film and not her. I didn’t really get why they voted her in. There must have been a huge vote split this year. Because all she does is be a CEO for a company doing illegal things — I mean, they give her that moment where she goes from suburban mother to nasty executive, you know, in the bathroom, putting on her face, sweating, going over her lines — and then calls a hit on George Clooney. That’s really it. She really doesn’t stand out among the performances here. But, whatever, she won. We deal.
My Thoughts: Blanchett was fucking incredible as Dylan, and, had she not already won an Oscar (which, humorously enough, was also for a near spot-on portrayal of another famous person), I would be voting for her. But, I love Saoirse Ronan’s performance too much to not vote for it. I fucking loved that performance. Either one of them should have won this. Swinton really shouldn’t have. She was the least memorable person in that movie. They were rewarding the movie, not her. It’s a shame. But, the other two performances still exist, and as long as that’s the case, I’m going to champion them as being the best. Because they are.