Robert Duvall (The Judge)
Admittedly, I have not seen “The Judge,” but everything I’m hearing says Duvall put together a phenomenal performance in an average movie.
Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
I really liked Hawke in “Boyhood.” He made me really believe that he was the father of those kids. The performances of Hawke and Patricia Arquette are really what stood out about that movie to me.
Edward Norton (Birdman)
Norton has been doing it for years, but he once again proved that he is still one of the best actors in the business. He made it look easy in “Birdman.”
Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
Ruffalo, alongside co-stars Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, had arguably the best acting performance of his career in “Foxcatcher.” He served as the films heart. The audience relates to him because he is the most grounded figure in the film. Without that heart, “Foxcatcher” may have failed as a film.
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Although he has been in a lot of films, Simmons has never been given as prominent a role as this. He didn’t waste that chance as he went toe-to-toe with Miles Teller to help create one of the best movies of the year.
Duvall’s performance will be hurt by the fact that “The Judge” was a mediocre movie according to its reviews. However, the Academy does seem to favor old white guys so Duvall does fit that bill, but for me…he’s out.
Norton put together a great performance like I said, but it was part of a great ensemble cast. I will continue to say that about “Birdman,” but it’s true. I feel you can’t credit just one actor or actress in the film with its success. Even Michael Jordan needed Scottie Pippen, and Edward Norton had about seven Scottie Pippens in “Birdman.” So…he’s out.
It’s difficult to eliminate two of these last three, but I think there is one distinct difference that will decide it.
Hawke is great. I’m not saying that lightly, but the success of the movie didn’t rest on his shoulders. He was a great addition that absolutely is one of the bright lights of “Boyhood,” but Patricia Arquette is more important to the movie. Sorry, Ethan…you’re out.
Ruffalo has a stronger case than Hawke. I think he’s the dark horse in this category. Like I said, he is the heart of the film. However, Channing Tatum and Steve Carell also had equally amazing performances. Ruffalo didn’t steal the show. That’s not an issue but when you’re going up against Simmons’ performance, you need to steal the show. Sorry, Mark. Even though I deemed you the dark horse of the category, I don’t think the Academy is ready for a perfect storm…you’re out.
WINNER: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Simmons absolutely steals this movie. Without him, “Whiplash” simply doesn’t work. He’s terrifying, funny and an absolutely fascinating character study. He’s undoubtedly one of the most interesting characters of the year, let alone this category. Much like Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight,” Simmons’ character is chaotic, but at the same time calculating. He knows what he’s doing even though his tactics are insane. Simmons was perfect for the role, he delivered in the role and I can’t think of anyone who could have done it better. Ledger stole “The Dark Knight” and took home Best Supporting Actor. I see no difference here. I’ll give Miles Teller credit because he sticks with Simmons, but there is no question J.K. is the star of “Whiplash.” That gives him the edge over his competitors. Congratulations J.K….the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor goes to you.
WINNER: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
DARK HORSE: Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)