It’s best to wait in predicting the Best Supporting performance Oscars, because without anyone having seen the films, it’s hard to know who stands out in an ensemble, or who is a lead, or who is that someone we’ve never heard of that breaks out. It’s easy to look a year ahead of time and see that Leonard DiCaprio will be nominate for Best Actor for The Revenant, but nobody on god’s green Earth could have, more than a few weeks ago, posited that Sylvester Stallone would be nominated for, of all things, playing Rocky again (in Creed).
But that’s a distinct possibility. A lot of Academy voters in the acting branch may get all nostalgic thinking about Stallone, who was nominated for the first Rocky (and for writing the script) and might well have won had Peter Finch not dropped dead a few months before the ceremony. But there are also might be those who realize what Stallone squandered, giving up on making movies in quality, lowering himself to Rambo films and then wallowing in projects like The Expendables. It’s a tough call, but I don’t think, in the end, that he will be nominated.
The Supporting Actor race will probably have a couple of actors from Spotlight, the token British theater actor, a previous winner, and one wild card, which may be Stallone. I’ll put them in alphabetical order:
Christian Bale: The Big Short. Bale has picked up a few nominations in the last few years, so he seems to be a popular choice among the branch. This comedy, about the 2008 economic collapse, is an ensemble piece, but all signs are pointing to Bale to get any accolades.
Benicio Del Toro: Sicario. Del Toro, the previous winner fifteen years ago for Traffic, is in another film about the drug trade, and this may be his finest performance yet, as a guy working for the CIA (we think), but who has is own agenda.
Michael Keaton: Spotlight. The New York Film Critics went with Keaton as Best Actor, and he is the emotional center of the film, but the studio is putting everyone in the supporting basket, and the Academy usually complies. The “we owe him one” for last year’s snub for Birdman may help him win.
Mark Ruffalo: Spotlight. If Keaton is the emotional center of Spotlight, Ruffalo gets the big scene, with his fiery portrayal of a reporter. Ruffalo is getting a lot of high-profile roles these days, and it would be his third nomination. You get the sense it’s just a matter of time before he wins.
Mark Rylance: Bridge of Spies. Rylance is a multi-Tony-winning British actor who steals the film right from under Tom Hanks’ nose. It’s a great performance.
With Best Supporting Actress, we’ve got the fresh new faces and a Hollywood legend, perhaps gunning for a third Oscar.
Jane Fonda: Youth. Fonda has only worked sporadically this century, but she has one of those big diva scenes that call attention to themselves. She has won two Oscars, but hasn’t been nominated in almost thirty years.
Jennifer Jason Leigh: The Hateful Eight. Leigh has never been nominated for an Oscar, but Tarantino seems to get a lot of actors we’ve almost forgotten about nominated. Hard to know at this point if she’s got any scenery-chewing, but maybe she’s due.
Rooney Mara: Carol. Haven’t seen this yet, but apparently Mara’s part is bigger than co-star Cate Blanchett’s, but she’s being pushed for Supporting and Blanchett for lead. She’s a lock at this point.
Alicia Vikander: The Danish Girl. Vikander was in about eight films this year, and she won the L.A. Film Critics for Ex Machina, but it’s likely the Academy will go with the more prestigious offering. Basically she’s playing the patient wife of Eddie Redmayne, which got Felicity Jones a nom last year.
Kate Winslet: Steve Jobs. The film’s lackluster box office will hurt it in several categories, but if Winslet pays the price I will be livid, as this is great acting.
Golden Globe and SAG nominations will help sort all this when they are released this week. Stallone is sure to get a nod from the HFPA, star-fuckers as they are, but if SAG goes with him to he may get that nomination for the Academy.