This year, it seems if your name starts with the letter ‘j’ then you’re in the hunt for best supporting actor. Be it John, Jared, Jeremy or James they are filling up the ranks of contenders. However, it’s one thing to be in the hunt, and another to be closing in on the Oscar itself. Here’s how best supporting actor is shaking out right now.
1. Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
2. Tom Hanks – Saving Mr. Banks
3. Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
4. Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
5. Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
6. Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
7. John Goodman – Inside Llewyn Davis
8. Daniel Bruhl – Rush
9. Jeremy Renner – American Hustle
10. James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Read list to find out why these are the men vying to be crowned this year’s best.
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
Michael Fassbender has only been a known commodity for four or five years, but it already feels like he is overdue for an Oscar nomination. A big reason for that was the surprising omission for his work in Steve McQueen’s “Shame.” Fassbender’s third outing with McQueen, however, won’t be overlooked, and could very possibly take the prize as he plays the vicious, frightening slave owner Epps in “12 Years a Slave” to masterful affect.
Tom Hanks – Saving Mr. Banks
Hanks will likely be a double nominee this year, and while everyone is focused on “Captain Phillips,” that will likely change when they all get a glimpse at him as Hollywood legend Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks.” He will charm everyone who sees the film, including the voters. This is the more likely of the two nominations that could turn into a win.
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Jared Leto had four years in between his last film role and his performance in “Dallas Buyers Club.” The wait was well worth it as Leto is stunning as a transvestite suffering from AIDS who befriends Matthew McConaughey’s homophobic lead. Leto is unrecognizable, losing weight till he was practically skin and bones helped, but more importantly he gives a transformative performance. Here’s hoping it won’t be another four years till his next movie.
Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
Paul Greengrass wanted real Somalis to portray the pirates in “Captain Phillips,” and boy did he hit the jackpot with Barkhad Abdi. In his first feature role, Abdi stars as the lead pirate Muse. His quite intensity and the ability to give away his characters true emotions in his eyes alone are mesmerizing. He arguably outperforms Hanks and should be a lock for a nomination.
Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
It appears Cooper has found his niche in David O. Russell films. After earning a best actor nod for “Silver Linings Playbook” — and had it not been for a certain Irish man portray a certain U.S. president, he may have won – he returns for the follow-up “American Hustle” in a supporting role. Like his “Playbook” co-star Jennifer Lawrence, early word has him as a standout in a great ensemble, which makes him a strong threat here.
Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
The last unknown of the awards season has been seen. Guild screenings took place in LA and New York over the weekend, and so far it’s the performances that are taking center stage. Among them is Jonah Hill. Hill earned his first nomination for “Moneyball” in 2011, and is generating a lot of buzz for his performance here. The comedic actor is quickly proving with the right material he can be as good as anyone.
John Goodman – Inside Llewyn Davis
One actor who may be having a better couple of years than Matthew McConaughey as far as project selection is John Goodman. The veteran actor is having a resurgence of his own being in the last two best picture winners as well as another best picture nominee. His streak looks to continue this year with “Inside Llewyn Davis,” but he also has a strong chance for some individual awards to be thrown his way as he reunites with the Coen brothers, who he has had great success with in the past.
Daniel Bruhl – Rush
A couple of months ago Daniel Bruhl looked like a guaranteed nominee for his performance in “Rush” as the title was hotly anticipated. He received strong praise, and the film earned mostly positive reviews, but he is a long way from a sure bet now. “Rush” failed to hit at the box-office, and with other films and actors storming to the front, Bruhl is getting lost in the field.
Jeremy Renner – American Hustle
The two-time Oscar nominee is a newcomer to the world of David O. Russell, but he seems to fit in quite nicely. After some lackluster blockbuster outings, Renner returns to the type of projects that launched him. However, he has to battle his co-stars as well as actors from other projects for consideration, and that may be just too much for him to overcome.
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
James Gandolfini is best known for playing mobster Tony Soprano, but he shows his softer side in the romantic comedy “Enough Said” and people praised the late actor in one of his final performances. His death does add a bit of a sentiment vote, but it would be irrelevant if the work weren’t up to snuff. Still, even for a beloved industry man like Gandolfini it will be a tough mountain to climb. Don’t be surprised if he gets some love at the Golden Globes though.