Oscarthon: Best Supporting Actor

1. Matt Damon (1 for 2) for Invictus

"This team was asked to exceed their expectations. It’s a metaphor for what the country needed to do because everybody was expecting them to not be able to heal. It was Francois’s integrity and leadership that I needed to get across with the role." -collider
Damon finally returns to the ranks of Oscar nominee after Good Will Hunting, but it couldn't be for a more boring role. Invictus is fascinating at points, in the same way the non-fiction book its based on must be- that all happened? But the workmanlike Eastwood approach doesn't lend much to the drama of the role, so it's hard to get behind Damon as an Oscar candidate- especially when his role in The Informant! is the best of his career so far.

2. Woody Harrelson (0 for 1) for The Messenger
"There are certain protocols they have in the Army and the rest of the military, but there's no easy way to do it. You just say, "The Secretary of the Army regrets to inform you..." And it's the hardest job in the Army. Even people I met at Walter Reed who had lost an arm or a leg would say, "Oh, no, I don't want to do that. I'd much rather go back into combat." Nobody wants that job, because you're walking in and breaking someone's heart." -amc
The Messenger is a wonderful character piece that's less histronic than any film about Casualty Notifcation officers has any right to be. Harrelson gets the more subtle role as the mentor to Ben Foster's Iraq war veteran, and is surprisingly perfect for it.

3. Christopher Plummer (0 for 0) for The Last Station
"There was a chance to redeem [Tolstoy] from a kind of universal view that he was dry. He wrote these long, heavy going – wonderful though they were, human novels. But was he fun? Did he have a lark every now and then?" -darkhorizons
Plummer took the relatively blank slate that is Tolstoy in most of the pop consciousness and put an emphatic stamp of his own on it in a vibrant, alternately hilarious and stately turn. BUt how this is billed as a supporting performance (while Helen Mirren is a "leading" one) is beyond me.

Moreover, how on earth has Plummer never been nominated before? And why isn't he getting any "Oscar for the whole career" buzz this season?

4. Stanley Tucci (0 for 0) for The Lovely Bones
“It was hard in every respect. I was very reticent to take the part at first. I have kids and I can’t really read anything or watch anything with kids getting harmed. I don’t like things about serial killers. There’s so much serial killer information out there in documentaries constantly. A lot of it’s just sort of gratuitous or it’s almost like pornographic really. There’s no reason for it being shown. This was not that.” -canmag
I've never been interested in reading The Lovely Bones, and was sort of relieved that the lack of critical love (and nominations) for the film adaptation exempted me from seeing it as well. So I'm sure Tucci does a great job going to a dark place, but he's not winning anyway.

5. Christoph Waltz (0 for 0) for Inglourious Basterds
"What makes [Landa] so intriguing is exactly that; he’s not driven by an ideology. When people say “Nazi,” it’s such a gross generalization, I feel. And sometimes I feel compelled to say, 'Well, he’s not even a Nazi.' Yes, he wears that uniform, but he doesn’t care. Not about Nazi ideology. He’s completely unideological. He just understands how the world turns, and in that way, he’s three steps ahead of everyone else." -slashfilm
Another year, another sure-thing supporting actor winner for a role as a complete psychopath (after Javier Bardem and Heath Ledger). Waltz is the flashier, most memorable, and most deftly-played part of Tarantino's sprawling love-letter to WWII, and has no doubt politely declined to dust off a space on his mantle just yet- but he defintiely has his speech ready.

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