Oscar Watch: Academy Awards 2001 - Nominations, Best Supporting Actor
by Kenneth Leung
Published: February 5, 2002
Sometimes the supporting categories throw up all kind of problems in their selection. When ensemble pieces are produced, there is difficulty in selecting one performance which truly stands out. Such films as “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, “Black Hawk Down” and “Gosford Park” possess marvellous casts, causing the Academy to vote for different people in the same movie. This would hurt everybody’s chance, unless the critics and the marketing department help select actors to choose from. With that in mind, within the supporting categories I may talk about a film and its cast in general rather than pinpoint a specific performance.
The ‘Shoot me if these are not nominated’ category
Ben Kingsley – “Sexy Beast”
Background: The diverse actor epitomizes the crime underworld as Don Logan.
Chances: You look at Ben Kingsley as harden criminal Don Logan in “Sexy Beast” and flashback almost twenty years to gentile Mahatma Gandhi and you have to say, “No way!” It amazes me Ben Kingsley can play two very diverse characters. He has a good chance of winning this year, having previous Oscar charm behind him and critics’ awards from the Broadcast, Boston and Toronto film critics.
Jim Broadbent – “Iris” / “Moulin Rouge” / “Bridget Jones’s Diary”
Background: Unassuming British actor breaks out this past year with three performances worthy of mention.
Chances: Before the awards were dished out in the past few months, I had never heard of Jim Broadbent in any film. Yet I have seen many of his films, from “Little Voice” to “The Avengers” (I think we can forget about that one!). Jim Broadbent is similar in Sissy Spacek in many ways, choosing the roles, not living the Hollywood life and doing his job. Many performers respect these kinds of actors, since they are a rarity nowadays. After receiving the Best Supporting Actor award at the Golden Globes and with Steve Buscemi not receiving a SAG Awards nominations, Jim Broadbent is the most likely candidate to fight out Ben Kingsley for the Best Supporting Actor prize. Although he was great in “Moulin Rouge” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary”, he is getting the most press as long suffering John Bayley, whose memoirs were the basis for “Iris”.
Ian McKellen – “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”
Background: Gandalf the Wizard – Enough said!
Chances: How could you not nominate one of the finest actors playing one of the most famous characters in fiction history? Even though the lack of any kind of awards may have been noticed, the actor who played Magneto is starring in one of the biggest films this year and it is hard not to notice that fact. Maybe other cast members may get mentioned, for example Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen or Ian Holm but Sir Ian McKellen has more pedigree and class than all of those three combined.
The ‘So close! It just lacks something extra’ category
Steve Buscemi – “Ghost World”
Background: Funny man does serious as musically-obsessed middle aged man Seymour
Chances: Steve Buscemi has to be one of the most known unknown actors in Hollywood, virtue of co-starring in more films than any other actor in Hollywood (with the exception of Samuel L. Jackson). With this extensive workload, I believe moviegoers widely under appreciate the actor, with his talent thinly diluted amongst his work. Remember this is an actor who has worked for directors such as the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino. Could “Ghost World” change their tone? No SAG nomination could hurt him in the end but the awards from the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle should be placed before the voters’ eyes to give them a friendly hint.
Hayden Christensen – “Life as a House”
Background: The future Darth Vader does a little something different after his famous stint.
Chances: When I first looked at Hayden Christensen after his casting as Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars Episode II: The Attack of the Clones”, I just thought to myself he would be another good looking actor with no talent playing a famous role. Then he throws my views out the window by using his time between the completion of the filming in Australia and the release of the sequel/prequel of the famous series by playing Kevin Kline’s estranged son in “Life as a House”. I forget to mention he portrays the teenager so well; he snagged himself some press as well. Flying relatively low under the radar, the Canadian actor has been nominated by the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Is this a sign of things to come?
Jon Voight – “Ali”
Background: The “Midnight Cowboy” plays the sportscaster Howard Cosell in the biopic of ‘The Greatest’.
Chances: The former Oscar winner slipped down the ladder after receiving no SAG nomination but he still has to be considered by the Academy for his performance. Even though the film “Ali” hasn’t got the praise it was expected to, many negative reviews still highlight the performance of Jon Voight as the sportscaster Howard Cosell. With “Ali” floundering in all areas, will Jon Voight still be noticed in a few weeks time?
The ‘Look out for these dark horses’ category
Despite his SAG nomination, there is no way on God’s Earth Ethan Hawke will be nominated for his role in “Training Day”. The husband of Uma Thurman is just riding the Denzel Washington train and it is high time he has to disembark at his destination. For such a male dominated film, you would have thought “Black Hawk Down” would throw up some likely names but there is not a particular actor which stands out in my mind. The closest thing will be Eric Bana; he shows some genuine class and could be another hot import from Australia, just like the recent Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman. I think the Academy will find “Ocean’s Eleven” being too commercial for their tastes, while the comedy of “The Royal Tenenbaums” may dissuade the members from picking anybody from that cast. The women have been receiving all the plaudits for “Gosford Park” and it seems to remain that way, while Colin Firth or Hugh Grant may be following Renee Zellweger to the Oscars if they can get nominated for the roles in “Bridget Jones’s Diary”. Other likely names from abroad include Jude Law (“A.I.: Artificial Intelligence”) and Goran Visnjic (“The Deep End”) while much closer to home contenders include Ed Harris (“A Beautiful Mind”) and Tony Shalhoub (“The Man Who Wasn’t There”). Finally I want to comment on the chances for the cast of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. Even though such names as Richard Harris, Ian Hart and Alan Rickman have been thrown in the mix, the most likely actor to receive a nomination from the fantasy tale is Robbie Coltrane as the lovable Hagrid.
The last of the performing categories is next – Best Supporting Actress…