There is no category this year whose lineup—and winner—is closest to being set in stone than Supporting Actor. Ignored by the Golden Globes, Hal Holbrook’s heart-wrenching performance in Into the Wild was not forgotten by the Screen Actors Guild, which has, of late, become a shrewd predictor of the eventual Oscar nominees. SAG also backed Casey Affleck for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men, Philip Seymour Hoffman for Charlie Wilson’s War, and Tom Wilkinson for Michael Clayton. The weakest link is likely Hoffman, though he does have the luxury of representing the only picture of 2007 to address the War on Terror not to get audiences’ cold shoulder. That Wilkinson, as Michael Clayton’s Queen of Shiva, is a lock speaks to the Academy’s affinity for hambone performances, suggesting that Tommy Lee Jones’s muted turn in No Country for Old Men has less of chance of squeaking in than John Travolta in Hairspray. Though the Hairspray cast was honored by SAG, as was No Country for Old Men’s, meaning Jones and Travolta are probably running a closer neck-and-neck race for the fifth spot than we would like to believe, Travolta may be the only actor this Oscar season who could have used the publicity of the Golden Globes airing this year. But it’s not like most actors take Travolta more seriously than Hoffman anyway, and a vote for Hoffman in Charlie Wilson’s War is also a vote for Hoffman in The Savages.
Will Be Nominated: Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War), Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild, and Tom Wilkinson for Michael Clayton)
This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.