Barkhad Abdi

Oscar Predictions 2014: Supporting Actor

The Best Supporting Actor category at this year’s Academy Awards is a tough race, because there isn’t a single nominee who doesn’t deserve to be there. All five men brought vastly different roles to the table, and it’s clear that they’re playing to win. But couldn’t the Academy have, just for a minute, thought to consider that shit and nominate James Franco for Spring Breakers? Franco’s controversial role as Alien in the equally controversial Harmony Korine film was divisive to say the least, but it’s his strongest to date. Plus, wouldn’t it have been wonderful to see that Oscar campaign go on just a little bit longer? Daydreams of what might have been aside, the talent that made the cut is tremendous. Keep reading for a look at all five nominees for Best Supporting Actor along with my predicted winner in red…

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Captain Phillips

A boat at sea is a pretty rich place to explore ideology. Bear with me here. The sea, by assumption, bears no visible national borders, no unified language, no tactile culture for human beings. Yet humans travel the sea, conquer it, capitalize on it. Our use of the sea is in no way apolitical, yet an endless horizon subject to the laws of nature conveys something essential, a visage that suggests a false, elusive neutrality. The sea simultaneously erases and amplifies the distinctions we’ve made between ourselves on land. Much has been already discussed about the ideological implications Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips. What to make of a popular piece of entertainment that is, at least in part, about global inequality? Are the systemic factors that motivate Somali piracy ignored? If not, might audiences still interpret the film in a simplistic hero v. villain binary de rigueur of Hollywood entertainment? Is the film, as Dana Stevens observes, “a tragedy about the ruinous consequences of global capitalism” or is it, as Andrew O’Hehir argues, “a disturbing celebration of American military power”? Perhaps a film like Captain Phillips, by virtue of its setting and narrative, can be seen as a vessel of ideology that, at the same time, investigates the core processes by which our political identities and assumptions come into realization.

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