In a year that the leading actor race is full of major heavyweight contenders — many going for their second or third Oscars— the Supporting Actor category is no less competitive and also chockful of major names in the hunt for another Oscar. With certified leading men like Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Russell Crowe, Ewan McGregor, and Matthew McConaughey in the mix, the supporting contest is easily one of the most fascinating. And it begs the question: What really is a supporting role? Is it playing a major title role in The Master or could it be just one 5-minute scene as a cancer patient in Flight? Is it a collective award for a trio of scene-stealing roles in one year, such as John Goodman’s 2012 resumé indicates, or will it honor a return to critical acclaim for a legend like Robert De Niro who hasn’t been Oscar-nominated since 1991? Whatever the case, this is the starriest group of best supporting contenders we have seen in many years. Here’s a rundown of the major players.
Robert De Niro | Silver Linings Playbook
As Pat Sr., the obsessive-compulsive father and Philadelphia Eagles fan, two-time winner De Niro wowed critics and immediately elicited strong Oscar buzz for the first time in a couple of decades. He hasn’t been nominated since 1991’s Cape Fear and hasn’t won since 1980’s Raging Bull. Now he’s back in the supporting category where he first triumphed in 1974 for The Godfather Part II. Will history repeat itself? He’s a hot contender to do just that.
Tommy Lee Jones | Lincoln
As the spirited and scene-stealing political powerhouse Thaddeus Stevens, Jones livens up the film with a rip-roaring turn that puts this leading actor squarely in the hunt for a second statuette in the supporting category. He won for 1993’s The Fugitive and was last nominated five years ago for the first time in the best actor category for In the Valley of Elah. His acclaimed turn opposite Meryl Streep in the summer release Hope Springs further enhances his chances of scoring another Oscar for his mantel. (more…)