Alan Arkin, Robert De Niro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones and Christoph Waltz square off
(Welcome to the Oscar Guide, your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 24, with the Best Picture finale on Friday, February 22.)
For the first time in Oscar history, we have an acting category composed entirely of past winners. Seth MacFarlane noted this is a “breath of fresh air.” He has a tendency to use sarcasm. Not only are the nominees all past winners, the race for the nominations was terribly predictable, notwithstanding occasional precursor support for Javier Bardem (“Skyfall”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“Django Unchained”) and Matthew McConaughey (“Magic Mike”).
And like Best Supporting Actress, I found this year's supporting actor nominees largely underwhelming. In my view, two of the nominees are giving slightly different takes on the characters that already won them an Oscar. Two veterans are very good but fall short of greatness in my opinion. And the one truly great performance in the lot is a leading role masquerading as supporting. This is, nevertheless, by far the most exciting acting category when it comes to the race for the win. Indeed, plausible cases can be made for every contender.
The nominees are…