Christopher Plummer is a shoo-in for his affecting turn in 'Beginners.'
By Eric Ditzian
Let's begin this discussion of the 2012 Oscar nominees for Best Supporting Actor by pouring one out for "Drive" co-star Albert Brooks, who seemed to have a nod all locked up until he didn't, leaving movie fans around the country to scratch our heads and wonder, Whappened?
While we're at it, big shout-out to Patton Oswalt, whose scenes in "Young Adult" were not only the most consistently entertaining but whose post-Oscar snub tweets proved the comedian is hilarious even in defeat. And Uggie — the only thing I truly loved about "The Artist" — was either ineligible due to his being a Jack Russell terrier or else cruelly discriminated against. Either way, he didn't nab a nom.
But we're supposed to be past the point of whining about snubs, aren't we? We're supposed to be focused on celebrating the efforts of five fine supporting actors in five fine films, are we not? The thing is, this category is truly hard to get excited about. We're not going to go so far as to call the nominees boring as a whole, but we will point out a) approximately 11 people saw "Beginners" in a theater; b) "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is a wretched bit of magical realism lazily draped onto a very raw episode in American history; and c) it would have been way cooler had Kenneth Branagh been honored for helming "Thor" than for anything that occurred in "My Week With Marilyn."
And it is with this high praise and these high hopes that we edge toward the Best Supporting Actor category at this year's Oscar. Here are our picks.
Who Will Win: OK, OK, this is an easy category to mock, especially since the median age of its nominees is 106. But we must say this: "Beginners," despite no one actually having seen it, is a beautiful movie. It is sweet and moving and complexly told not for complexity's sake but because life itself is so damn complicated.
Christopher Plummer's turn as an elderly man who finally comes out of the closet following the death of his wife (only to die himself shortly thereafter) is an affecting one. If I don't exactly see why this supporting performance is being held up as the finest of the year, if I can point to past Plummer roles more deserving of Oscar love (his recent portrayal of Tolstoy in "The Last Station," for instance), I certainly can't begrudge the 82-year-old his win. There's no doubt that after a lifetime of service in Hollywood, he deserves it.
Who Should Win: Not Branagh and not "Moneyball" star Jonah Hill.
I remain ambivalent about their movies. And certainly not Max von Sydow, who could have delivered the greatest performance in the history of performances and still not rescued the superlatively grating "Extremely Loud." Then there's Nick Nolte, whose last Oscar nod came in 1998. He's never won, and "Warrior" kicked a whole lot of ass. Who are we kidding, though? Given this collection of nominees, the only just choice is the man who's a lock to actually win Best Supporting Actor: Mr. Christopher Plummer.
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