Barkhad Abdi Captain Phillips
Like Lupita Nyong’o, Barkhad Abdi was nominated for his first ever film role. Does he deserve it? Absolutely, he is the only memorable Somalia pirate out of the four guys; yes, he is given the best lines while the others were playing one-note clichés, but he still delivers a great performance that people will remember. Unfortunately, he is nominated in a year with strong supporting actors and it is highly unlikely that he will win. I am not saying in a weaker year he would have won, but at least he would have had a better shot.
Bradley Cooper American Hustle
A lot of people were bashing Cooper’s performance in American Hustle; however, I loved it. As we learn in Silver Linings Playbook he plays unstable very well and he brings this tenacity to FBI agent Richie DiMaso. Between the curlers in his hair and how he treats his boss (Louis C.K.), the audience never knows what DiMaso will do or look like. The character works as a perfect contrast to Irving(Bale); the line is certainly grey when talking about the hero and villain of this story. The credit for this wonderfully entertaining character has to go to the writing, as well as, Cooper who brought this psychopath to life. However, it does not look like Cooper has a shot to win this year; just like last year he is nominated in a category that has a clear cut winner.
Michael Fassbender 12 Years a Slave
One of the scariest characters of all time, Michael Fassbender’s Edwin Epps is more frightening than any horror film of 2013. And this character is not scary because of his bigotry; any character could be a one-note racist. This character is scary because he feels like a real person who suffers from anger issues and alcoholism. Now add his authoritative position and the character becomes sadistically volatile. The audience feels anxiety every time he appears because no one knows what he will do. It is wonderful that Michael Fassbender’s acting is finally getting recognized; it was a travesty when he was not nominated for Shame. But hopefully the Academy has learned their lesson and this is the first of many nominations.
Jonah Hill The Wolf of Wall Street
The cast of The Wolf of Wall Street is so big that it could have been easy to get ‘lost in the shuffle.’ Yet, besides Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill is one of the most memorable aspects of this film. From watching this movie, one could tell that Jonah Hill was allowed to ad-lib lines and that works to his benefit. This ad-libbing gives a kinetic energy to a movie that already has such a fast pace; Jonah Hill’s Donnie is deranged and one of the least likable characters, however, when he is on-screen the audience cannot look away. And who would have thought that in 2014 Jonah Hill has two Oscar nominations? While I do not think he deserved a nomination for 2011s Moneyball, he completely deserves the accolades for The Wolf of Wall Street.
Jared Leto Dallas Buyers Club
I have been talking so much about ‘memorable performances’ because if a performance is recognized by the Academy, it should be one of the most memorable of that year. However, a lot of Oscar nominated performances do not stand the test of time. What I mean is that certain nominations and winners are recognized in the annals of cinema, while other films are considered flukes of that year. For instance, Shakespeare in Love and Gwyneth Paltrow are considered one of the worst Oscar winners; but that year, it beat Saving Private Ryan and she beat out several better actresses. However, this is not the case with Jared Leto; I have always considered Leto good, but his work as the transvestite Rayon puts him in the ‘upper echelon’ of actors. Yes, this could be considered an ‘Oscar Bait’ role, but Jared Leto gives the performance of a lifetime and deserves the Oscar gold. I look at the punk rocker and do not see an ounce of him in Raylon: like what Philip Seymour Hoffman did with Capote. If I choose the outcome of the Oscars, he would be the clear-cut winner.
Again, this is a year full of strong supporting performances. But besides best actress, this category may be the closest to a sure thing. For months now, people have been speaking about Jared Leto’s performance and the buzz has not fizzled. The only legitimate threat to Jared Leto is Michael Fassbender, but I find this upset to be highly unlikely; Leto has won most of the major awards leading up to the Oscars and I cannot see Fassbender stopping that momentum.