Thursday, February 21, 2013

Academy Award Week (2013): Best Supporting Actor....Are you Sure you are in the Right Place?

Throughout the years of Academy Awards performances are placed in acting categories by studios, the options are clearly lead vs. supporting.  Over the years people have bemoaned category fraud, and this year there are two specific cases of that extreme category fraud, Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master.

Before I look at this year I am going to talk about this category, and category fraud over the years:

2010-Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech has an equal amount of screen time as lead contender and winner Colin Firth.

2008-Robert Downey Jr. was in most of the scenes in Tropic Thunder, but you could argue the "ensemble rule."  Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a central part in Doubt, and was by no means a supporting player.

2007-Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was in more of the film than Brad Pitt how he was considered a lead is one of the biggest pieces of category fraud.

2005-Jake Gyllenhaal was a co-lead in Brokeback Mountain, the film was about both Ennis and Jack.

These are just a handful of the different elements of category fraud in the last few years, and while there are still several men who should be considered supporting, the true "supporting" players never seem to win.  One could argue that many of the past few winners Christian Bale in The Fighter, and Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men could be considered lead performances.

So why does this happen?  Studios want to pack on the number of nominations, would these men have beat out any of the leads to get a nomination? Probably not meaning films would potentially have less or no nominations meaning some films would have less consideration to be less people, think The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. People often also have this notion that you need more acting nominations to be successful.  Think Brokeback Mountain, but for some reason the critics out there have not had the balls to correct this category placement.

Who are the men guilty of this category fraud crime, why the Weinstein Company's Christoph Waltz from Django Unchained, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (once again) from The Master.  Both of these performances while not the center of their films are part of the central journey.

Django was obviously a story about Django (Jaime Foxx) and his bounty hunter companion Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz), the two were in the majority of the film. At the earliest part of award season Waltz was placed in the Supporting Actor category.  On November 8th the website reported Waltz would be campaigned in the lead category instead.  After the lead race became crowded the Weinstein Company switched Waltz back to supporting. 

Hoffman was guilty of category fraud for another Weinstein film four years ago, and he is back.  This is a simple case of them wanting to get as many nominations for this smaller film as possible.  Like with Doubt all three central characters are nominated, and ironically both have Amy Adams, and Hoffman.  This is not a case for just the Weinstein's, Warner Brothers, Focus Features, FOX are also guilty of this fraud.  Let's focus on this year's nominees and who may win the top prize.

And the nominees are...
Alan Arkin-Argo
Robert DeNiro-Silver Linings Playbook
Phillip Seymour Hoffman-The Master
Tommy Lee Jones-Lincoln
Christoph Waltz-Django Unchained

This may be one of the tougher races to predict.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman took the early lead winning at the BFCA; he also won many critics groups awards.  Waltz gained momentum with a win at the Golden Globes, and BAFTA.  In the middle of Waltz's wins Tommy Lee Jones won SAG.  I think the power of Harvey Weinstein will guide the winner here, and my prediction all along has been Waltz the lead performance that steals the show.  Many are citing that DeNiro has the heart behind his performance and he has not won in years so he has more on his side, but he has not won a single award prior to this.  Maybe a James Coburn type deal?  Jones sour puss could also take the stage if they decide to throw more at Lincoln, but I think Lincoln seems a bit forgotten.  My gut is to go with the lead in supporting actor clothing.

Will Win: Christoph Waltz
Spoilers: Robert DeNiro, and Tommy Lee Jones

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