It’s time to handicap the races among actors and supporting actors nominated for Academy Awards to be bestowed Sunday evening in the televised ceremony at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.
There was plenty of great work this year from the slates of nominees, none of it more impressive than those “happy” smiles you’ll be seeing from the eight also-rans as the winners head toward the stage to accept their statuettes.
So who will take home the Oscars for best actor and best supporting actor?
In the best supporting actor category, three of the nominees would appear to be happy, maybe even satisfied, to be included in this august group without harboring any hopes of a competitive victory.
The nod for the relatively unfamiliar John Hawkes as the protagonist’s menacing uncle in the out-of-nowhere best picture nominee Winter’s Bone should instantly raise the profile of this veteran character actor in unprecendented ways.
Jeremy Renner’s electrifying turn as a violent, unpredictable bank robber in The Town is his second Oscar nomination in as many years and thus cements his reputation and should bring him casting opportunities galore.
And prolific Mark Ruffalo’s first helping of official recognition from the Academy for his engaging rendering of the sperm-donor dad in The Kids Are All Right will do wonders for his already flourishing career.
In most years, the spectacular performance by previous Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush as the resourceful, real-life Australian therapist of England’s King George VI in The King’s Speech would have allowed him to walk away with the Oscar. But not this year, when he has merely an outside chance for an upset.
That’s because the first nomination for Christian Bale, with his astonishingly authentic and marvelously mulitfaceted rendering in The Fighter as the real-life, drug-addicted ex-boxer training his boxer brother, undeniably makes him the prohibitive favorite.
In another close call, I too would cast my vote for Bale.
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The best actor category is similarly clear-cut.
Nominations for Jeff Bridges and Javier Bardem, both previously recognized by the Academy, compute as bonus accolades for performers who already have Oscars on their shelves but don’t stand a chance to repeat that feat this year.
Six-time nominee Bridges, an Oscar winner last year, adds to his already glittering résumé with a nod for his inheritance of an iconic John Wayne role as tipsy US marshal Rooster Cogburn in the popular western remake, True Grit.
Bardem, with his third nomination and a win behind him in the best supporting Actor category, makes history with the first nomination ever for a role completely in Spanish for his commanding performance as a dying small-time criminal and big-time father in Biutiful.
Rare is the movie that rests on one performer’s shoulders the way 127 Hours rests on those of James Franco, who is more than up to the task. He disappears into the role of the real-life hiker pinned by a boulder with staggering authenticity.
But the gratification he gets out of this Oscar ceremony will come mostly from his co-hosting duties, which already make him a winner of sorts.
Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of the brilliant, scorned, complex Mark Zuckerberg, the real-life founder of Facebook, in The Social Network, brings him his first nomination and gives his present and future career a life-changing boost. But there will be no Oscar for him either.
That’s because the best actor ceremony is a long-since-determined coronation. Colin Firth, with his second nomination in this category in as many years, will take home a richly deserved Academy Award for his moving and unforgettable performance in The King’s Speech as the stuttering sovereign King George VI, reluctantly inspiring radio listeners around the world as the world goes to war.
In a very strong cartegory, if I had a vote, I too would go forth for Firth (top photo).
For more on the Oscars, click here.
Reported by Bill Wine, KYW Newsradio 1060.