Handicapping the Race: Best Supporting Actor

Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook.

Like never before, the Academy nominated five performers who have previously win, one of them, more than once. Of all the acting categories, this one is the hardest to predict. Like it’s going to stop me.

The nominees are:

Alan Arkin in Argo. Probably the least showy character in Argo (outside Ben Affleck), it’s a mystery how Arkin made it to the short least ahead of the far most deserving William H. Macy (The Sessions). He basically plays the same character in every movie he is in: A cranky old man who hides a degree of nobility. The nomination is his prize. Odds: 25 to 1.

Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook. The sentimental favorite, De Niro is basically being recognized for turning one decent performance after a decade of underachieving. Two external factors make his shot to an Academy Award more likely: His son suffers of mental illness, just like his character, and De Niro has been unusually open about this. Also, since it seems the British Daniel Day-Lewis will receive a third Oscar, it’s only fair one of America’s finest thespians gets one also. Odds: Even.

Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master. The utterly reliable Hoffman is the perfect foil for Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. Alas, he lacks the showy moments his counterpart has in spades. Hoffman unwillingness to campaign for a second golden statue (he won for Capote) further hurt his options. Odds: 4 to 1.

Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. Speaking of crankypants, Tommy Lee Jones’ attitude at the Golden Globes and subsequent defeat seriously hindered his shot. Jones was the favorite for as long as Lincoln was the film to beat. Once Argo started winning things, his options diminished. Plus, he is not coming across as the most pleasant of peoples (his interview with Esquire last December was cringe-inducing). Least we forget, the Oscars are a popularity contest. Odds: 2 to 1.

Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained. Even though I’m not a big fan of Django, it has the strongest cast of all the films in competition. As the sole nominee of the Tarantino troupe, Waltz doesn’t stray far from his stock in trade (the affable sociopath), but at least he is very good at it. Of all the nominees, Waltz is the only one that seems to be enjoying himself. Odds: 10 to 1.

Should Win: Waltz. Will win: De Niro.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.