It’s always strange to me when it’s clearly a chore for the Academy to select five gentlemen for this category. It happens more often than it should. This year saw three solid locks for nominations: Clive Owen, Thomas Haden Church, and Morgan Freeman. I’m not much a fan of Closer or Clive Owen in it, but he’s a good actor who deserves a nomination. Aside from the fact that I find everything in Closer as fake as Owen's teeth, I can't really complain. Likewise, Morgan Freeman deserves an Oscar, and he’s a lot of fun in Million Dollar Baby, so why not give him his due here? Ultimately of the nominees, I must side with Thomas Haden Church for Sideways, a movie that went from Oscar frontrunner to clear afterthought a minute or two before the film failed nominations for Giamatti and Film Editing. But THC’s horn-doggedness remains adorably one-dimensional mostly throughout the movie. Despite advanced buzz, the star of Ned and Stacy and Wings was never going to win an Oscar for a movie the Academy clearly didn’t like very much, but he’s my only choice here.
Shoehorning Jamie Foxx into a supporting lineup only cemented his Ray victory more than was already predestined. The irony is that he’s much better in Collateral, and indeed my runner-up pick of the nominees. He’s too full of ego now to accept a role like this again. Jamie Foxx may be the kind of actor who should never have gotten close to an Oscar, and doubtlessly were Ray to remain a twinkle in Taylor Hackford’s eye, he never would have gotten close to a nomination for Michael Mann’s L.A.-noir. But while it’s a case of visible category fraudulence, he’s very strong.
From there, it was a crapshoot to find someone. The Golden Globes gave it to David Carradine, who was the saving grace of the immensely disappointing Kill Bill: Vol. 2. Yikes, what a comedown! But he (and Michael Madsen) did good work, and Carradine had some pretty incredible speeches later on. That would be reliant upon voters making it through the entire film though, which in retrospect was never going to happen. They could have gone for James Garner, the Screen Actor’s Guild’s choice for aging TV star in a plumb role for The Notebook. I’ve still yet to endure that film, so I cannot comment on it, but it sure looks like the kind of thing that gives you hives just being around it. Speaking of hives, Freddie Highmore in Finding Neverland. I’m not sure I hated this kid more than I hated anything else in Finding Neverland, but he did about as little as any child has ever had to do in any movie, and rumors of his nomination baffled me. So instead, they found their own old man and gave Alan Alda a career nomination that had evaded him for ages. And although he doesn’t have much to do in The Aviator, he’s very good. Alda is clearly having a field day playing this conservative hypocrite, whom I heard he referred to as “just the ugliest guy I’ve ever seen.” There’s just not quite enough to warrant a vote, but for this kind of Oscar epic-tagalong, he certainly adds some juice to The Aviator late in the game.
A moment’s recognition for the Chlotrudis Awards who gave Mark Wahlberg his one citation for one of the funniest meltdown performances of all time in I [Heart] Huckabees.
Best Supporting Actor
1. Mark Wahlberg, I Heart Huckabees
2. Paul Bettany, Dogville
3. Liev Schreiber, The Manchurican Candidate
4. Phil Davis, Vera Drake
5. Willem DaFoe, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver