2014 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Nominees. The 86th Academy Awards are less than a week away, and FilmBook will be counting down with a daily analysis of the major categories! We will discuss the nominated performances, key scenes, and name our favorites; we will leave the predicting to you. On Saturday, March 1st, we will cap off our coverage with a full list of who we would like to see take home the coveted gold man on March 2nd in a groundbreaking year of American film.
We’re kicking off our coverage with an analysis of the Best Supporting Actor category, which features three first-time nominees in a category that usually sees veterans awarded. All five actors portrayed real people in their performances and none has ever taken home an Oscar.
86th Academy Awards – Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) –
Who He Plays: Born in Somali and immigrating at age 14 to the United States, 28-year-old Barkhad Abdi won the role of a lifetime at an open casting call in Minneapolis. His portrayal of Abduwali Muse, one in a gang of pirates who overtook the American cargo ship Maersk Alabama and held its captain hostage in the spring of 2009, is his first acting role.
Why He Deserves To Win: Abdi’s fresh presence affords the audience the opportunity to absorb his performance and its every detail without preconceived notions. While his violent actions obviously disturb the audience, he manages to simultaneously cultivate sympathy from viewers for his in-over-his-head character – a difficult task to say the least, especially for a first-time performer torturing America’s favorite actor.
Key Scene: In one of the most memorable lines of the year, Abdi points a gun at Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) after hijacking his ship and utters, “Look at me. Look at me. I am the captain now.”
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) –
Who He Plays: Nominated last year in the Best Actor category for Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper returns to the Oscars with a second career nomination for his portrayal of Richie DiMaso, an FBI agent consumed by his lust for Edith Greensley (Amy Adams) and his pursuit of a grand, notorious corruption bust that knows no limits.
Why He Deserves To Win: Cooper delivers director and co-screenwriter David O. Russell’s rapid-fire dialogue with skill and personality, imbuing his fully-realized character with undeniable likeability and desperate attraction.
Key Scene: Cooper shines brightest when he delivers line after line after line – uninterrupted – after he busts Edith in an undercover sting and “interrogates” her in a holding cell.
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) –
Who He Plays: A favorite of director Steve McQueen, Fassbender plays brutal Georgian slave-owner Edwin Epps, butting heads with protagonist Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and repeatedly torturing the film’s emotional force, Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o).
Why He Deserves To Win: Fassbender completely hands himself over to the role, fearlessly transforming himself into one of cinema’s most memorable monsters. The audience noticeably tenses up by his mere appearance on screen. He plays Epps’ self-righteousness, drunkenness, and ruthlessness with bold and frightening measure.
Key Scene: Fassbender strikes no more fear in the audience than when he confronts Solomon in the middle of the night about a letter for help that Solomon tried to have smuggled out of the plantation.
Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) –
Who He Plays: In his second career Oscar-nomination, Hill’s Donnie Azoff hitches his wagon to Jordan Belfort’s (Leonardo Dicaprio) wealthy star, introducing Belfort to the world of drugs and accompanying him on their depraved pursuits of wild sex, endless drugs, and perverse wealth.
Why He Deserves To Win: Hill embraces this role with an uninhibited frat-boy spirit, brazenly diving into a risky role in a controversial film that might’ve scared off more than a few Hollywood stars – and succeeding with his career intact… Oh, and he swallows a live goldfish.
Key Scene: Hill elicits the most laughter when, after popping several old Quaaludes, he and Jordan have a drug-fueled confrontation that leaves the audience shaking their heads from pure shock.
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) –
Who He Plays: The lead singer of Thirty Seconds to Mars portrays Rayon, a pre-operative transsexual that first repulses, then bonds with, then works for Matthew McConaughey’s Ron Woodroof.
Why He Deserves To Win: Leto not only undertook a brave physical transformation for the role, wearing multiple wigs and unconventional clothing to complement Rayon’s colorful personality and emaciated physique, he also depicts Rayon with a quiet patience and concrete self-worth that ratifies his character’s humanity.
Key Scene: His character nearing death, Leto maximizes his screen-time with a scene that lasts less than ten seconds: applying powder to his gaunt face with tears in his eyes, he utters, “God, when I meet You, I’m going to be pretty if it’s the last thing I do. I’ll be a beautiful angel.”
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