Oscar Analysis 2014: Best Supporting Actor
Well we can thank the Best Supporting Actress category for giving us some sense of competition. Best Supporting Actor is one of the few categories in this race that’s set in stone. Jared Leto, who plays an AIDS-infected transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club, goes through a physical transformation that’s just as dramatic as Matthew McConaughey’s in the film. Leto is excellent in Dallas Buyers Club, and by now the Oscar is his to lose.
Personally speaking, out of the five performances it was Jonah Hill’s in Wolf of Wall Street that surprised me the most. For a 3 hour film about pure excess, and the most over the top performance in Leonardo DiCaprio’s career, it was Hill who turned out to be the glue that held the film together. He repeatedly stole scenes from DiCaprio and plenty of other great actors, and provided the film’s biggest laughs throughout. It’s the kind of role that will establish Hill as a true talent, and help him step out of the shadow of his more famous friends in the Apatow clan.
As for the others…Michael Fassbender is great at playing the horrendously evil Epps in 12 Years A Slave, but it’s too one-note when he’s in a field of more multifaceted performances. Barkhad Abdi gets the “happy to be here” nomination slot for his debut role in Captain Phillips. Abdi’s rise from limo driver to Oscar nominated actor makes for a great story, but he doesn’t have a chance at getting near the stage on Oscar night. And in all honesty, I completely forgot about Bradley Cooper getting nominated for American Hustle. He’s not bad (I think he did a much better job in The Place Beyond The Pines, but that’s just me), it’s just a slight performance in a slight film.
It’s tough to pick one actor who should have been nominated. I think it was a great year for comedic performances, with James Franco in Spring Breakers and The Rock in Pain & Gain being highlights (also severely under-appreciated: Danny McBride in This is the End). Ultimately, I decided to go with Keith Stanfield in Short Term 12, who felt like a real discovery this year. His arc as troubled teen Marcus is the best thing about the film, and he brings such a quiet intensity to the role that a separate film could have easily been dedicated to his character.