The most wonderful time of the year is upon us yet again: Oscar season. There’s some obvious resentment circling the Academy this year, as it fails to answer the hopes for a more diverse collection of nominees in both gender and race. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that there are some brilliant nominees to applaud this year, looking firstly at those in the best supporting actor and actress categories.
First up in the nominees for Best Supporting actress, and one of the best on the list, is Emma Stone for Birdman. Stone plays the angsty Sam, employed by her actor father Riggan (Michael Keaton) as his personal assistant in an attempt to repair their relationship. Stone’s monologue in the film, tearing into Riggan’s irrelevance and detachment from modernity, is simply incredible. She could rightly be showered in Oscars for that moment alone, not to mention her impeccable chemistry with Edward Norton.
Next on the list is the wonderful Laura Dern in Wild. Bobbi, Cheryl’s (Reece Witherspoon) mother, could initially be perceived as a victim of sorts; she’s poor, escaped an abusive relationship and completed her high school education at the same time as her daughter. Yet Dern exudes joy and optimism from these dark places, making us share the same feelings of hope, loss and grief as Cheryl throughout the film.
Thirdly, Patricia Arquette’s dedication to her role as the mother in the coming of age epic Boyhood, filmed over twelve years, makes her one of the Oscar favourites. It could be argued that her portrayal of a mother is more relatable than Laura Dern’s, as the story explores the small nuances of growing up and the challenges that a lot of mothers face. Her performance is personally very nostalgic, and that’s why she’ll probably win.
Speaking of Meryl Streep, in the sitcom Modern Family, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) claims that “Meryl Streep could play Batman and be the right choice…” He’s not wrong. In Into The Woods, Streep plays a particularly complicated wicked Witch. She’s perfect, as always, and her song Stay With Me is one of the rawest and most emotive moments of the film. But after a record nineteen nominations and three wins, maybe let someone else win this year Meryl.
And finally, there’s our very own Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game. Clarke is certainly a loveable character, but the complexities of her character just don’t shine through quite as much as they could do. An enormous well done from the UK Keira, but she won’t win it.
Keria is the representative from the UK, but this year the award belongs to Patricia Arquette
Starting off with Best Supporting Actor is J. K. Simmons for his role as music teacher Terence Fletcher in Whiplash. Fletcher is a terrifying presence which Simmons plays to perfection. Relentless, calculating and manipulative, he is one of the most feared antagonists of recent cinema.
Ethan Hawke’s role as the father in Boyhood hasn’t seen the same praise as Patricia Arquette’s this awards season. As Mom and Dad are split up from the start of the film, Hawke’s character is essentially the “fun parent” of the two. Unfortunately, this means his character simply doesn’t have the same depth and the challenges that Arquette’s character faces, but he’s loveable all the same.
Yet another nominee taking on the parental figure is Robert Duvall in The Judge, the oldest ever Best Supporting Actor nominee at 84 years old. Despite the predominantly negative reviews of this film, none of them forget to mention that Robert Duvall’s role as the Judge Joseph Palmer is an excellent one. It’s a pleasure to see Duvall’s excellent work still being rightfully honoured today.
Another deserved nominee is Edward Norton as Mike Shiner in Birdman. Shiner is perhaps the most captivating character in Birdman, whose satirical depiction of method acting is a compelling example of the superficiality of every character in the film. The way he slips into his role in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (the play within the film) is both hypnotising and disturbingly perfect.
Finally, there is Mark Ruffalo as David Schultz in Foxcatcher. Towards the beginning of the film, the character seems a lot less developed than his brother Mark (Channing Tatum) as he is in a much more comfortable situation. However, as this stability progressively breaks down, Ruffalo shines. A notable scene during an interview for a documentary about John du Pont (Steve Carell), shows Ruffalo simply sitting in silence, yet his inner turmoil is plain.
So the winners this year for Best Supporting Actor and Actress look likely to be Patricia Arquette and J. K. Simmons. Although both deliver incredible performances, it would be great to see Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo take the awards.