For as much as I differ with the Academy's nominations in the following two categories, you'd think I found the supporting categories at the Oscars to be utter crap, when the truth is: this year's Supporting Actor nominations are the strongest they've been in years, and the supporting actresses are pretty stellar too. It's just that the pool of nominatable performances ran deep this year. I had a lot to choose from.
And it looks like we have a new nominations leader: welcome, Zodiac and your six nominations. Please don't shoot me and write letters about it.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Javier Bardem - No Country For Old Men
Robert Downey Jr. - Zodiac
Ben Foster - 3:10 To Yuma
James Marsden - Enchanted and Hairspray
Mark Ruffalo - Zodiac
Matches with Oscar: 1/5. Javier Bardem rules all.
Runners Up: Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton); Tommy Lee Jones (No Country For Old Men); Chris Cooper (Breach); Stephen Graham (This Is England); Paul Schnieder (Lars and the Real Girl; The Assassination of Jesse James...).
Past Rezzie Winners: 2006: Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland); 2005: Jeff Daniels (The Squid and the Whale); 2004: Clive Owen (Closer); 2003: Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai); 2002: Paul Newman (Road to Perdition); 2001: Ian McKellan (Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring); 2000: Albert Finney (Erin Brockovich); 1999: Christopher Plummer (The Insider); 1998: Ed Harris (The Truman Show).
Why These Five? If you think Marsden's a lightweight entry because the brand of light comedy he was in this year looks easy, you're not paying attention; Downey and Ruffalo spent their entire film wrestling the other out of the "best in show" circle; Ben Foster was by far the best thing about 3:10 To Yuma, and I kept wanting the story to cut back to him for a while longer; and I'm not sure what else can possibly be said about Javier Bardem that hasn't already been said.
Who Wins? Javier: "I think you know." [Joe: "AAAAAHHHHHH!!!" runs away]
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Lauren Ambrose - Starting Out In The Evening
Jennifer Garner - Juno
Allison Janney - Juno
Margo Martindale - Paris Je T'aime
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton
Matches with Oscar: 2/6. Oscar liked Cate Blanchett, Ruby Dee, and Saoirse Ronan better than Garner, Janney, Ambrose, and Martindale.
Runners Up: Lili Taylor (Starting Out In The Evening); Sigourney Weaver (The TV Set); Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl); Kelly MacDonald (No Country For Old Men); Deborra-Lee Furness (Jindabyne).
Past Rezzie Winners: 2006: Emma Thompson (Stranger Than Fiction); 2005: Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener); 2004: Natalie Portman (Closer); 2003: Patricia Clarkson (The Station Agent); 2002: Meryl Streep (Adaptation); 2001: Carrie-Ann Moss (Memento); 2000: Kate Hudson (Almost Famous); 1999: Helena Bonham-Carter (Fight Club); 1998: Kathy Bates (Primary Colors).
Why These Six: I get to cheat once, okay? Ambrose squeaks on the list for getting her character's monstrous presumption exactly right; Martindale for being sad but not pathetic in Alexander Payne's Paris short; Ryan for all the reasons she won the Breakthrough award; Swinton for her from-the-ground-up character building and constant subtle physicality; and as for the Juno women, it's a near toss-up: Janney's laser-like piercing through every bit of Juno's bullshit, or Garner's uncompromising presentation of an uptight suburban yuppie with an actual soul to her? It's a tough call...
Who Wins: Lucky I don't have to make it, thanks to Tilda Swinton. That rehearsal scene in front of the mirror is just too good.