The best supporting actor category will likely be one of the most interesting and watched of the night and with good reason. Each and every nominee has won an Oscar before. From a competitive standpoint that actually means no one owns an advantage.
The supporting performer categories are usually used for two reasons – to recognize an up-and-coming actor or actress or one who has been overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for past works. None of these gentlemen can make such a claim and they each represent the best of Hollywood.
From the wily vet Alan Arkin in Argo to the equally talented and experienced Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) and Robert DeNiro (god of actors) who plays a cranky father in Silver Linings Playbook, these three have aged gracefully into character roles after toiling long and hard in film.
By Hollywood standards Hoffman is still young, but very talented and may have more Oscar roles in him, but his work in The Master proved worthy. And Christoph Waltz? He and Quentin Tarantino equal pure magic as he showed in Django Unchained.
Alan Arkin in ‘Argo’
A three-time prior nominee and previous winner for Little Miss Sunshine in this category, Alan Arkin portrayed film producer Lester Siegel in the best picture favorite Argo. Siegel works with Ben Affleck’s CIA operative to get six Americans caught up in the embassy siege in 1979 Iran out of the country before they are discovered.
Robert DeNiro in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
Robert DeNiro’s list of accolades and award nominations is so long that half the marathon Oscar telecast that’s expected Sunday could be spent reading it. It doesn’t matter because as long as he’s able to work, it seems that they will keep coming. In Silver Linings Playbook, he portrays a father dealing with the return of his bipolar son from a mental institution. It’s DeNiro’s seventh nomination in an unrivaled career.
Philip Seymour Hoffman in ‘The Master’
Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays a charismatic leader of a fringe religious group who takes in a mentally unstable drifter played by Joaquin Phoenix. It’s a flawless performance and you see how his character, Lancaster Dodd, manipulates those around him, including friends and family to keep his questionable cult going.
Tommy Lee Jones in ‘Lincoln’
Some actors put just a touch of themselves in every role. Jones has a reputation as being one of those who doesn’t suffer fools lightly. Neither did Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln and Jones brings that to the forefront all while playing a man fighting for the moral right even though his beliefs are years above most of his peers. It’s Jones’ fourth nomination. He previously won for The Fugitive.
Christoph Waltz in ‘Django Unchained’
Given this is the second time he’s worked with him, it’s obvious that Quentin Tarantino loves Christoph Waltz. Given it’s his second Oscar nomination (he won for Inglorious Basterds), it’s pretty obvious that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences kind of like the guy too. As the bounty hunter who buys the freedom of a slave played by Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained, Waltz is witty and brilliant.