The 82nd Annual Academy Awards are just three weeks away, and between now and then, your GonzoGeek panel will be making their picks alongside our resident Oscar expert: Matt’s copy of “Wrestlemania 2000” for the Nintendo 64.
Today: Best Supporting Actor
Bruce (last year: 2/5)
I’m going to go with Christoph Waltz on this one. My reasoning is twofold. First, Inglorious Basterds is Jewish wish fulfillment of epic proportions. A group of Jewish commandos bring down Hitler? Check. I’m not being anti-semetic here, but given the vast number of Jews in Hollywood this one seems like a no brainer. The second reason? Simple. This year the Academy has the opportunity to undo the travesty it did in 1994 when it gave Martin Landau the nod over Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson should have won for his portrayal of Jules in “Pulp Fiction” but the Academy was scared of Tarantino back then. This year, a Tarantino actor can and will win an Oscar.
Chris (last year: 3/5)
Matt Damon as a South African rugger was good casting. Woody Harrelson as a tightly-would military errand boy even better. Both actors acquitted themselves well. The Oscar, however, as often happens, will go to a great performance in a counter-cast role, Stanley Tucci as a serial killer (with hair no less!). This man has been acting his ass off for years now at a consistently high level, yet this is his first nomination. Body-of-work sway as well? You bet.
Chuck (last year: n/a)
Christoph Waltz waltzes home with this one. The Academy owes this not to Waltz, but to Samuel Leroy Jackson, who was robbed of his sixteen sweet years ago in this category for his portrayal of Jules “Bad Mother Fucker” Winfield in Tarantino’s post-modern masterpiece, ‘Pulp Fiction’. Basterds and Q are up for eight Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, but it’s Waltz’ Hans Landa that will be the ‘Hans down” winner in this category and earn Inglorious’ sole gold statuette.
Matt (last year: 3/5)
I’m picking Woody Harrelson; he’s earned great reviews in “The Messenger” and according to the odds, is the next-best favorite after Waltz. Three things swing this in his favor: 1) voters are less likely to give Jeff Bridges a “body of work” bump in a leading role nomination, but the supporting categories are where more conventionally popular Hollywood-types earn their gold (see: Tommy Lee Jones, Robin Williams, Tim Robbins, Renee Zellweger, Angelina Jolie); 2) there’s a historical lack of Tarantino love in the Academy, even if “Basterds” did earn Director and Picture nominations; 3) the past two Supporting Actor awards have gone to heinous villains (Javier Bardem in “No Country For Old Men” and Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”) and a third would establish a trend.
R.J. (last year: n/a)
Matt Damon for Invictus? Why? Damon was awesome in The Informant! as a deluded whistleblower and should have received a nomination for that performance, but his role in Invictus is thin. He’s a utility player in the film. The Oscars don’t recognize the best of the year. They recognize the best everyone has heard of. See also The Grammys. Woody Harrelson does a great job in The Messenger, a film that deserved more critical praise and bigger audiences. The Last Station must have a great campaign behind it because not many folks outside of New York or Los Angeles have seen it yet. One way to get nominated for Oscars—besides making a safe film about Important themes—is to spend crazy money on ads for your movie’s stars and throw parties to get people to see your film. That’s what the studio did with Plummer, I suspect. Christopher Plummer in The Last Station is this year’s obligatory Shakespearean trained actor pick. He won’t win, though. Stanley Tucci was good in a poor film that I suspect most voters never got around to watching. The night’s winner will be Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds. Great movie, great choice. (Should have been nominated: Michael Fassbender for Hunger. The year’s best performance.)
Stephe (last year: 1/5)
I haven’t seen any of these films. I never heard of ‘The Messenger’ or ‘The Last Station’. All I know of ‘The Lovely Bones’ is that it was based on a book that I’ve seen in the discount shelves at Barnes and Noble (Speaking of, has anyone else noticed how much smaller those discount racks are these days?). I wanted to see ‘Invictus’. I wanted to see ‘Inglorious Basterds’. But hey, best laid plans of mice and men.
Anyway, based on all of the above, I say the award is a tossup between Matt Damon and Christoph Waltz. And I’ll give Woody Harrelson the ‘should have gone to’ distinction because I happened to catch ‘Kingpin’ while I was working out last Saturday Morning.
Wrestlemania 2000 (last year: 2/5)*
Tucci gets bounced, as any nominee from “The Lovely Bones” should.
Damon: “Too Hot” Scott Taylor
Harrelson: Big Boss Man
Plummer: Prince Albert
Waltz: The Undertaker
Plummer strikes first blood, eliminating Harrelson at 5:21 after turning a gorilla press into a crushing powerslam. From there, Waltz takes over, laying into both Damon and Plummer with no quarter. A chokeslam ends Damon’s chances at 6:46, and Christoph Waltz follows it up immediately with a Tombstone piledriver on Plummer for the win at 7:06.
Odds were chosen from various online betting sites, including Bodog and Bet365. Kids, gambling is a slippery slope, and sometimes that sure thing your wife’s brother told you about turns out to be something he overheard at a bar, but at that point you’ve already bet your kid’s college fund on the horse because the bills have been piling up lately and you could really use some extra breathing room, except now you’re screwed and you can’t tell the family because they’ll never forgive you, so maybe you’ll just work that night job for a while to pay off the debt…
Up next: Best Actress (Monday).
* Wrestlemania 2000 picks the Oscars by (1) eliminating the nominee with the longest odds, (2) matching up the remaining four with a character from WM2K’s extensive circa-1997 WWF roster and (3) Staging a CPU-generated four-man elimination match where the last man standing is the Oscar winner. No wrestlers are repeated during the contest.