It’s that time of year again. Time for the annual Syracuse betting pool, an informal and very small group of die-hard film fans, to start making predictions for the Academy Awards. This year has a number of great contenders for Best Supporting Actor, but here are some of the formidable acting talents that stand out from the rest and are the most likely wins, as established by our group.
When it comes to veteran British actors, Kenneth Branagh is right at the top of the list, having long ago established himself as a giant talent in his many Shakespearean roles. His appearance in “My Week With Marilyn” as Laurence Olivier shows that he still has the acting chops that helped him get where he is today.
Branagh not only captures the spirit of the great Olivier but also does so with a power and a passion that truly sets him apart. The fact that the film did moderately well at the box office, as well as its warm critical reception, certainly smooths the way for this most esteemed of British actors to take home the award.
Where to start with Christopher Plummer? Although his career has never truly flagged, it has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, culminating with his role in the film “Beginners.” In this touching romantic drama, he portrays an older man who finally comes out to his son and explores that aspect of his life before dying of cancer.
Plummer, as always, manages to combine genuine pathos with a keen eye for the comedic touch, making him a worthy contender for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Of course, the fact that he also won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, the otherwise positive reception of “Beginners,” and Plummer’s long list of other awards and acting credits certainly make him the frontrunner for this year’s Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Max von Sydow
Finally we come to this veteran, who has a screen presence that manages to exude power and genuine sympathy. In “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” von Sydow portrays a stranger with a mysterious past who befriends main character Oskar. As always, the veteran Swedish thespian manages to capture the complexities of human emotion, the depth of feeling always evident on his face showcasing his extraordinary acting ability. Acting, like a fine wine, clearly continues to only get better with age.
Hopefully the Academy will recognize that von Sydow’s acting abilities remain in top form and grant him the award he so richly deserves. However, he will have to overcome the liabilities of the film itself, since it has been neither commercially nor critically successful. On the other hand, it might just be that his performance is the one redeeming quality of “Extremely Loud,” making his win a distinct possibility.
2011 has been a good years for actors who are not from the United States, especially performers who have been in the movie industry as long as these venerable veterans who have been starring in movies longer than some of the other nominees have been alive. Let’s hope the Academy decides to reward their formidable acting talent, which is still so obviously in top form.
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