The Grouches have plowed their way through all of the films nominated for the big eight awards. Now we make the case for which film or performance we WANT to win. Doesn’t mean we think it will win or even have a shot at winning. But if we had a vote on the nominees, here’s who we would pick, and why:

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR NOMINEES: Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War), Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild), Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)

ADAM

Winner: Javier Bardem

There is absolutely no way that anyone else should win this award. Javier Bardem portrayed one of the best movie villains that I, or anyone, have ever seen. That being said, there are some pretty strong contenders that in any other year would have a shot at the award. I loved Tom Wilkenson’s performance. I thought he did a terrific job as a high-powered lawyer going through a mental breakdown AND crisis of conscience. Philip Seymour Hoffman is, without a doubt, a “Beast.” Two years after winning the Best Actor award he appears in three movies in which his performance is either nominated or talked about for nomination: Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, The Savages, and Charlie Wilson’s War. I have, thus far, seen the latter two and I have to say that he has become one of my favorite actors. He does a phenomenal job in both of them and his recognition is well deserved.

I was not a fan of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I have had some discussions about it with John since my initial viewing and concede to some of his points – I, however, still maintain that it could have been a very good movie, but was destroyed by its writing. Regardless, I thought Casey Affleck’s portrayal of Robert Ford was terrific. And I think the Academy was right in nominating him for this as opposed to Gone Baby Gone – which was a much better movie, but much weaker performance by Affleck.

Apparently the Academy decided to recognize old actors who have never won an Oscar. In my opinion, both Ruby Dee and Hal Holbrook’s nominations were gifts and take away from the legitimacy and credibility of the nominations. There were MANY more worthy performances than Holbrook’s Into the Wild one. Granted, he was in the movie slightly longer than Dee, and his performance was better than hers, but that doesn’t mean he deserves a nomination. Utterly ridiculous.

Performance Ranking:

1. Javier Bardem
2. Tom Wilkinson
3. Philip Seymour Hoffman
4. Casey Affleck
5. Hal Holbrook

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JOHN

Man, what a category. There are some great performances on this year’s nomination list, but I’ll get the one outlier out of the way first. I liked Into the Wild a lot more than the rest of my colleagues but Holbrook’s segment of the film I found to be by far the weakest. His character’s connection to Emile Hirsch’s Chris McCandless almost entirely missed the mark for me, assisted by Hirsch’s worst acting in the film.

Philip Seymour Hoffman can do no wrong, but his role in Charlie Wilson’s War is less complex and interesting than the other roles he played this year, let alone the other nominees. Wilkinson is superb and he created a deranged, complicated, interesting, and tragic character. In a weaker year he’d have a great shot.

Anton Chigurh, I’m convinced, is a villain that will go down in film history. The guy is chilling to see and hear, a true physical incarnate of evil if there ever was one. Bardem is absolutely amazing. I mean, just picture that face as Chigurh strangles the cop at the beginning of the film. He will win the Oscar and it will be well-deserved.

But I’m actually going to go with Affleck here. I mentioned this in my Assassination of Jesse James review and I’ll say it again here: everything about Affleck’s Bob Ford is perfect. Everything he says and everything he does feels right. His false bravado, puppy dog admiration, fidgety demeanor, and twisted logic are just embodied so well by Affleck.

Snubs: I would’ve chosen Seymour Hoffman’s role in The Savages instead, if that is indeed considered Supporting. Tommy Lee Jones in No Country For Old Men is probably the only true snub I see (replace Holbrook with him and, whew, what a slate of nominees). I also loved Ben Foster’s killer with flair in 3:10 to Yuma. Otherwise I’d probably just mention some actors I wish had gotten a bit more consideration. The fearsome father-son duo of Armin Mueller-Stahl and Vincent Cassel in Eastern Promises comes to mind. Paul Rudd in Knocked Up. Michael Cera in Juno or Superbad. Jeff Daniels in The Lookout.

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BRIAN

Finally, I finished all my Oscar movies with Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. While I won’t quite start screaming for my 2.5 hours back, I was a little disappointed. On to the Best Supp. Actor race, which I thought was incredibly strong this year and at many instances throughout the season, I was excited about this race. But now the Oscars are just a couple hours away from starting, so I gotta write about this quickly.
Tom Wilkinson was the best part of Michael Clayton, and his opening monologue brought me right into the action. It’s fun to play the crazy guy, and Wilkinson did it fantastically. In other old men nominations, Hal Holbrook was also the best part of his movie. I’m a big softy for father/son storylines, and in another year, I might find myself voting for him. Hell, I’d probably vote for all of these actors with lesser competition.
Philip Seymour Hoffman had the best lines in Charlie Wilson’s War, and that was thanks to Aaron Sorkin’s overlooked script. That one scene in the congressman’s office was fun…and Hoffman brought the perfect comedic timing.
Casey Affleck was much more of a starring character in TAJJBTCRF, and he was back to playing the nebbish roles that he always plays. I thought he was much better in Gone Baby Gone, a role for which he was sadly underlooked.
Of course, I will join the masses once again and praise Javier Bardem for being the biggest badass of the year. Unapologetically cruel and sadistic, and pageboy haircut aside, Bardem was awesome…and I kind of wish that he was hired by Daniel Day-Lewis’ Daniel Plainview. A scene between the two of them would cause the world to spontaneously explode.

A stellar five nominees, and I give it to Bardem by a hair.

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JARED

I’m typing this up as the red carpet is going on, so apologies if it isn’t up to my already low standards.  I think this category is another strong one.  Just like everything else about Into the Wild, I found Hal Holbrook kinda bleh.  Yay for grandfather types, but I dunno.  I heart Philip Seymour Hoffman to a point that’s almost illegal, but as I mentioned, I think it is tough to justify an acting award for Charlie Wilson’s War.  PSH had one really good scene (OK, anyone yelling at Dennis Martino deserves an Academy nomination), but I personally thought he got a little bit lost in the movie.

I thought Casey Affleck did a pretty tremendous job.  But again, I think it is silly he can be nominated in the same category as Hal Holbrook.  Affleck had probably ten times the amount of screen time as Holbrook.  Doesn’t seem reasonable to me that you can compare the two.  I do think that Affleck is going to start finding it hard to find roles that match his style.  Not that I didn’t love him in Gone Baby Gone.  But it would have been interesting if Jesse James had a better script.  I do love Tom Wilkinson a lot, especially in a role in which he could have gone way over the top.  If he’s in a separate category with Hal and a few other people, he wins by a landslide.

But yeah, Javier Bardem.  Wow.  I may have not liked No Country for Old Men, but I’m pretty much honored to have seen Javier Bardem take on that role.  Just out of this world.

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