This category is stacked with talented gentleman representing films of varying quality. I can honestly say that I think all five are very talented actors, but not since the category was introduced in 1936 has an actor had this award so in the bag. So ladies and gentlemen I give you the nominees for best actor in a supporting role.
Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Say what you will about Quentin Tarantino, but you’ve got to admit that the man knows what he’s doing when it comes to casting. Christoph Waltz as Hans “The Jew Hunter” Landa delivered one of the most eerily playful performances to come around in a long time. A man who literally kills with kindness, Landa drips with loathsome charm. Up until Basterds, Waltz was virtually unknown to the English-language community, but that all changed when Basterds debuted at Cannes last May. He’s since won the Cannes Best Actor honor, the Golden Globe, the BAFTA, and the SAG.
Woody Harrelson (The Messenger)
Who would have thought that Woody from “Cheers” would go on to have such an acclaimed and diverse career? In The Messenger he gives an absorbing performance as a military officer who has spent much of his career informing families that their loved ones have fallen in service of their country. While his storyline is really secondary to that of Ben Foster’s character, it’s Harrelson that stands out. A lot of people thought that his Oscar nominated turn in The People vs. Larry Flynt was going to be the defining role of his career, but this one might just be the pinnacle. I also thoroughly enjoyed him in 2012, but I might be alone in that one.
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Look at Stanley Tucci’s two major roles this year and you’ll see why the critical acclaim is so well deserved. He’s just as commendable playing the perfect doting husband to Meryl Streep’s Julia Child as he is a twisted child killer in The Lovely Bones. The Lovely Bones got some pretty mixed reviews (I was one of the few people who liked it) but without question, Stanley Tucci was the best thing about it. Many people agree and he’s been nominated for 8 major awards thanks to the role including the Golden Globe, the SAG, and the BAFTA (although he didn’t win any of them…).
Matt Damon (Invictus)
I like Matt Damon as much as the next girl but I’m still not quite sure why he was nominated for this role and not for The Informant! – by far his best performance of 2009. The nomination for his role as a rugby captain trying to lead his team to victory under the guidance of Nelson Mandela in Invictus seems almost like a consolation prize. The Clint Eastwood-directed sports cliché had all the makings of an Oscar juggernaught but when it arrived in theatres it fell flat and disappeared pretty quickly, much to the surprise of, well, everyone. Damon did a fine job, but Oscar worthy it ain’t.
Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
At age 80 Christopher Plummer has finally received his first Oscar nomination for playing Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station – news I found so unbelievable I kept going back to check I hadn’t misread it. And if it weren’t for a particular Nazi “Jew Hunter” there’s a good chance he might pull an Alan Arkin and actually win. He plays the legendary author in the tempestuous last year of his life with charm and conviction, and any other year it would have been great to see him win. Although let’s face it, a nod for his role in The Insider a few years ago would have made more sense.
Who should win: Christoph Waltz
Who will win: You don’t need me to tell you. Christoph Waltz has had this locked since Basterds made its debut in Cannes almost a year ago.