Most of the categories in this year’s Academy Awards presented me with a pretty clear decision, or at least a two-way race to deal with. The Best Supporting Actor category defied that by offering me four stellar picks and a fifth I haven’t had the honor of seeing yet.
We were all surprised that “The Social Network” was snubbed in this category, given the noise that was being made about Andrew Garfield’s performance and some small talk of Timberlake’s talent. Both were above average, I have to agree, but the talent that got selected blew them both out of the water. Garfield and Timberlake have shown greater performances as well (See “Never Let Me Go” and “Alpha Dog” for proof), so it may have been a surprise but it was the right decision.
Mark Ruffalo’s work in “The Kid’s Are All Right” is the one I missed. I can only say that I’m glad I did miss it so I only have a four-way struggle to contend with. I’ve like Ruffalo since the Sarah Poley vehicle “My Life Without Me” and I’m looking forward to his take on Bruce Banner, so I’m sure he did a bang-up job.
Geoffrey Rush is easily the greatest actor out of this year’s Supporting Actor collective, and he performed remarkably in his role. This is, however, the one weakness I found with “The King’s Speech.” His role wasn’t unique enough. It was a lovely adaptation of the Henry Higgins character, but it could have been written better allowing Mr. Rush to give it the presence it deserved. I’m glad he got the nomination, but the writers cost him the win on this one.
Jeremy Renner was my favorite performance on the list. I wanted to give it my vote for the Oscar, but I just can’t do it. As great a work as it is, it doesn’t seem enough of a stretch for me. Looking at the performances that Christian Bale and John Hawkes gave, Jeremy Renner has to take one for the team because of the character he’s playing. His acting chops just weren’t pushed far enough.
Christian Bale is going to take home this Oscar for his portrayal of Dicky Eklund in “The Fighter.” He’s already picked up some trinkets for it and the Academy will just give him more. Everyone’s loved him since “Newsies” except me. Somehow I missed that one until much later, but I thought he was great in “Swing Kids” and he’s never let up. With his performances in “The Machinist,” “American Psycho” and now “The Fighter” proving that he can transform himself as well as Daniel-Day Lewis, he certainly earned the gold.
John Hawkes as the haunting, sometimes terrifying, role as the speed-snorting uncle Teardrop deserves to win the statue. The most realistic and subtle display seen this year, Hawkes steals “Winter’s Bone” and makes it as much his own as he can, while still letting Jennifer Lawrence keep the lead. A bastard from the beginning, just when you want to hate Teardrop he confuses you with responsibility and makes you wonder what his real motives are. When the film wraps up and Teardrop issues his last statement, you know you’ve witnessed a transformation and something of a redemption.