Friday, October 8, 2010

Oscars of the Aughts: Best Supporting Actor 2007

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Winner: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
This was a strong category this year, with a diverse range of roles and actors. In regards to the actual Oscar race, there wasn't really much of a debate: Bardem cleaned up the precursor awards, all but guaranteeing him a win at the Oscars. But did he deserve the win? In a word, absolutely. Bardem is a marvel to behold in his film, playing deadly, reticent killer Anton Chigurh with chilling menace. He ruthless, as illustrated by his use of a coin toss to decide his victims' fates, and Bardem delivers a career-best performance (though, as evidenced by his recent roles, not one that defines him as the go-to serial killer).
So how's the rest of the field? Holbrook deservedly earned his first nomination for his role as an old man who "adopts" Emilie Hirsch's Chris McCandless; even though he doesn't appear until late in the movie, his heartbreaking attachment to the doomed McCandless provides some of the film's most powerful moments. Affleck, too, proved himself to be worthy of nomination for his complex portrayal of Robert Ford, the man who killed Jesse James. Affleck makes Ford a man who only wants the attention of his idol, only to end up turning against him; he's the emotional rock of the film, which plays as a critique of celebrity culture (by the way, I highly recommend this movie to everyone: gorgeous cinematography, great performances, and perhaps the best Western in recent years). Hoffman gets an opportunity to ham it up as Gust Avrakodos, a CIA operative who has a larger-than-life personality. He's the comic relief of the film, but in turn provides some of the film's most interesting insights. And Wilkinson is excellent as a corporate lawyer who "goes insane;" that is, rediscovers his ethics and plans to fight the system he has been a part of for so long. It's hard to decide how to rank these four men after Bardem, but here's how my ballot would have looked:
1. Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
2. Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
3. Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
4. Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
5. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War

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