Supporting-actor roundtable — is Tommy Lee Jones the grumpy old man to beat
Photo: The Weinstein Company/Warner Bros./DreamWorks
With less than four weeks to the Academy Awards, we're launching a series of loose and laid-back discussions of key races. For our first in 2013:Is Tommy Lee Jones a lock for best-supporting actor in "Lincoln" -- or not? With every contender a previous Oscar winner, could any other actor -- Robert De Niro ("Silver Linings Playbook"), Christoph Waltz ("Django Unchained"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Master"), or Alan Arkin ("Argo") -- beat TLJ, and why?
Carla Stockton (freelance writer): "Supporting actor" implies that we are recognizing the best collaborator, the best ensemble support. In which case, TLJ is probably not the right choice. He is in his own movie, acting in a world that the rest of the "Lincoln" crowd are kind of outside of, which works, in a way, because of the nature of the character he embodies in the film. His work was great, but was it supporting? On the other hand, Philip Seymour Hoffman's work -- and the generosity of his work -- helped to evoke some really beautifully crafted moments from Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. That's a supporting actor, one who could carry the film but has made the ensemble work in perfect harmony.
Michael Hogan (Huffington Post): Our statistical dashboard gives Tommy Lee a 65.2 percent chance of winning this category and places Hoffman second with 20.2 percent. Writing on HuffPost, Chris Rosen and I have complained about Waltz and Hoffman performing "category fraud" with their nominations -- both are arguably leading roles.
Thelma Adams: I love that term "category fraud," Michael. That eliminates Waltz and Hoffman.
Michael Hogan: Still, I thought Waltz was incandescent in "Django" and deservedly beat out the favored Leo DiCaprio for a nod. And I think either Waltz or Hoffman could win, if there's a protest vote by Quentin Tarantino or Paul Thomas Anderson fans.
Carla Stockton: I am sure Waltz was great. I won't see "Django." And so far, as much as I admire Waltz, I think he's generally overrated. There's a kind sycophancy around him that I don't get. Alan Arkin never fails to support, and he never fails to excel. But I would back Robert De Niro because his work is more subtle and more believably poignant than anything he's done since, oh, "Deer Hunter." Here's a huge star, and here he puts his screen family in the spotlight and creates an aura around them because of the energy he exudes.
Michael Hogan: I'm surprised we aren't seeing a campaign for De Niro mirroring the one for Meryl Streep last year in "The Iron Lady." It seems like a simple case to make: De Niro is a national treasure, and it's been decades since he was last nominated. This is also his best performance in ages, and, as Carla says, it's a true supporting performance. I don't know if Harvey [Weinstein] thinks De Niro can't win, if De Niro asked Harvey to stand down, or if they all decided it would be unseemly to actively campaign for this category, but it's been bizarrely quiet.
Thelma Adams: One look at De Niro at the SAGs and you know he is not interested in the dog-and-pony show. For that matter, neither is TLJ, but the "Lincoln" team is tenacious. I would also imagine that he would like to work with Spielberg again ... or DDL.