Oscar Update: Best Actor and Supporting Actor Predictions Updated

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James Franco in 127 Hours
Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

I really wanted to write about the actresses today, but since I will be seeing Love and Other Drugs in less than five hours it seemed silly to get into that topic without first experiencing Anne Hathaway’s performance. So, we’ll take a look at the men’s side of things and explore the current state of the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor race.

BEST ACTOR
RankNominee
1Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
2James Franco (127 Hours)
3Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
4Robert Duvall (Get Low)
5Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CHART

I’ll start with Best Actor as that seems to be a much quicker conversation since I think we are talking about either a two or three man race, depending on Jeff Bridges’s performance in True Grit. I’ll admit, Javier Bardem could come on strong with what I think is a brilliant performance in Biutiful, but it really depends on how critics respond to the film once Roadside Attractions finally releases it at the end of December. I gave Bardem high marks in my Cannes review, but critics seemed split on the film coming out of the festival and it even took some time for the film to secure a distributor. I still feel Bardem will manage a nod, but a win seems out of reach based on the strength of the current front-runners.

At this time, Colin Firth’s performance in The King’s Speech remains at the top of my chart, primarily because it is great performance, but it also has the added factor that Firth has never won an Oscar and this is his second great performance in a row after A Single Man last year. James Franco moves into my #2 slot with 127 Hours. This is a performance that will be lauded all season, but when it comes down to it, I think Firth will be seen as a much more established and deserving actor than Franco in the Academy’s eyes, and Franco will be indirectly asked to “do it again” if he wants to take home some hardware.

Right behind Franco is Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) whose performance, I think, will be compared with that of Jake Gyllenhaal’s in Love and Other Drugs and Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine. Right now Eisenberg has the edge because his film has been seen by most everyone, but I think Gosling, primarily, can steal that spotlight. It’s an interesting year considering this battle alone as a trio of younger actors vie for spots among the likes of Jeff Bridges, Colin Firth and Robert Duvall.

However, slipping in the charts is Duvall’s performance in Get Low, a film that seemed to have piqued last year and has just slowly dwindled as the year has gone on. Looking up from below the bubble line is Mark Wahlberg’s performance in the primarily-unseen The Fighter and Sean Penn in Fair Game. Between those two I really only see much of a chance for Wahlberg, but even that seems slim if you ask me.

The one new name added to the Best Actor list was also added to the Best Supporting Actor list making for an easy transition from one category to the next, as Tom O’Neil at Gold Derby asks if Michael Douglas’s cancer will be a factor at the Oscars? Douglas has garnered some attention for his role in Solitary Man, but whether it’s enough for an Oscar nomination that’s unclear. Does the fact he’s dealing with Stage 4 cancer give him a better shot at a nomination? Should it? I’ve added his Solitary Man performance to the Best Actor charts in the #12 spot and given him the #10 spot on the Best Supporting Actor charts for his return to Gordon Gekko in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, but the mere fact people complain about the end of that film, which has everything to do with Gekko’s character arc, tells me this is merely a question tossed into the wind rather than a legitimate query.

Andrew Garfield in The Social Network
Photo: Columbia Pictures
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
RankNominee
1Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
2Christian Bale (The Fighter)
3Sam Rockwell (Conviction)
4Jeremy Renner (The Town)
5John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CHART

As for the actual Best Supporting Actor race, the main reason Douglas’s name is even being mentioned is because it is a complete toss-up at this moment as to who will be nominated. In my estimation, Geoffrey Rush’s performance in The King’s Speech is still the easy favorite, and one thing I’d like to point out to those that think the trailer makes his performance look goofy or more like a caricature, most of the scenes where that is taking place are instances when Rush’s character is entertaining his children, not performing his duties as a speech therapist. I can see where some would be turned off by what looks like a silly performance, but believe me it is quite real, even though it does have its comical moments.

From there things begin to open up wide. I have Christian Bale’s performance in The Fighter and Sam Rockwell’s performance in Conviction in the #2 and #3 slots. I think both of these guys will be nominated, but I must say Anne Thompson takes things way too far calling Rockwell’s Conviction performance “the role of his career.” He does turn in a good performance, and he’ll primarily be nominated due to being looked over for Moon last year, but this performance in no way is better than he was in Moon or even Confessions of a Dangerous Mind or Matchstick Men for that matter. There just isn’t enough there to vault it to such a status.

Next, I’ve moved Jeremy Renner’s The Town performance into the top five with John Hawkes rounding out the leaders with his Winter’s Bone performance. These final two slots could very easily be replaced by any number of the names behind them, especially Mark Ruffalo in The Kids are All Right or either (or both) Justin Timberlake and/or Andrew Garfield in The Social Network. This last scenario is actually something EW’s Dave Karger brought up recently, asking if The Social Network could grab as many as three supporting actor nominations, tossing Armie Hammer’s dual performance as the Winklevoss twins in for good measure.

I’ll tell Karger right now he can toss Hammer out of the conversation unless he wants to add Josh Pence (whom IMDb doesn’t even list as a member of the cast any longer) to the controversy that would brew, but the idea of a Timberlake and Garfield double nom is not out of the question given the lack of outstanding supporting male roles at the moment. However, we’ve yet to see Josh Brolin in True Grit or Ed Harris and Colin Farrell in The Way Back so who knows if this is even a discussion worth getting too deep into at the moment. But it’s interesting nonetheless as the young generation of actors continue to make waves, and one of them is primarily a pop singer no less.

Falling dramatically on the list are both Bill Murray (Get Low) and John Malkovich (Secretariat). It had been some time since I had updated the supporting actor race and their roles in their two films simply won’t make the grade considering what they’re up against.

That does it for today’s update and you can click here to see my current full list of actor and supporting actor contenders. Tomorrow I’ll be back with my updated predictions for Best Actress and Supporting Actress. Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below in the meantime.