Silencio. Whereas the almost assured winner of the Best Actor trophy might consider thanking the fact that none of his competitors ordered milkshakes of their own, the Best Supporting Actor nominees’ chances are just about inversely proportional to their loquaciousness. So Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tom Wilkinson will probably have to settle for the knowledge that their performances would’ve been slam dunks at the Emmys, and the soft-spoken Casey Affleck will finally see the lead-in-support maneuver backfire when the two-and-a-half-odd hours of accumulating verbiage weighs in. We do have to admit that Wilkinson’s odds are bolstered by the fact that his honking outbursts are impossible to outright ignore and may thusly represent sad-sack Michael Clayton’s best opportunity for a win in the top six categories. (Then again, no one will bat an eye when the movie comes up empty either.) Wilkinson is hot-blooded in a cool, detached movie. Javier Bardem is ice cold in a bloody movie, and he has about six lines of dialogue, but it’s often difficult for Oscar to ignore a single actor when they emerge as the sole representative of an entire ensemble in a big Oscar contender. (Again, paging Daniel Day-Lewis.) Bardem’s track record is as solid as Julie Christie’s, with none of the splintered support that is making the Best Supporting Actress race the one to watch. Still, there are no doubt some Academy members who will feel alienated by Chigurh’s uncompromising lack of a character arc, and perhaps pass it off as a case of one-note acting. (A Defamer behind-the-scenes backstory would be enough to balance out the empathy vacuum if we thought voters read anything other than the trades.) Contrarians that we at Slant are (accused of being), we have to admit this is one of the few categories we’d rather see No Country for Old Men come up short, as Hal Holbrook’s quiet authority (dude summons the sun!) and heartrending dignity in Into the Wild’s best 10 or 15 minutes, not to mention his selfless career, have us hanging up our own hang-ups about career achievement awards in disguise. (Bardem even agrees with us.)
Will Win: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Should Win: Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.