Is anyone surprised? The Supporting Actor award for J.K. Simmons’ performance as a terrifyingly sadistic music director Terrence Fletcher in Whiplash was his “practically since the film debuted at Sundance over a year ago,” Deadline’s Awards Editor Pete Hammond said. Hollywood loves long-time character actors who finally get a chance to take advantage of a big break. Oddsmakers at PredictWise gave Simmons a 99.2% chance of prevailing.
Others nominated were Edward Norton (Birdman), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Robert Duvall (The Judge) and Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher).
There was no sign of his cold-hearted character in Simmons’ acceptance speech. He thanked his family, and urged people to “call your Mom…call your Dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them” and listen “as long as they want to talk to you.”
This was Simmons’ first Oscar nomination. His victory follows his wins in the Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards. Simmons started off in musical theater, performing in productions including Guys and Dolls and Carousel. On the big screen he’s probably best known for roles in the Spider-Man franchise, Thank You For Smoking, and Juno. But TV watchers remember him for his break-out performance as the villainous Vern Schillinger in HBO’s prison drama Oz, as Dr. Emil Skoda in Law & Order, and as a pitch man for Farmers Insurance.