It is an understatement to say 2013 was a great year for actors. The academy had it difficult coming up with only five nominees per category leaving out actors whose performances are as strong as the ones in. The more you see Redford, Hanks and Thompson, among others, the more you think, “What the heck happened to the Academy?” but then you see the nominees and you realize it’s tight. Maybe, the academy should have been more flexible and add two more slots, an experiment they have been dealing with the Best Picture of the Year.
In the Supporting actor category the story is the same although (as in Best Actress and Actor) the favorite has been sung long time ago and makes it a One-man race, but if you see the quality of work, you realize how much we will miss some of the ones who won’t go home with the trophy.
The nominees were announced early February and they include:
Barkhad Abdi for Captain Philips
Bradley Cooper for American Hustle
Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
The favorite? Leto
The runner up? Fassbender
The close possibility? Bradley Cooper
Let’s just take a look at their performance and body of work.
Somali-American actor, born in 1985 in Somalia but raised in Yemen, he moved to America in 1999. Years later he became a limousine driver and a disc jockey, so being chosen by Paul Greengrass to play hijacker and pirate leader Abduwali Muse was a shock to him, which grew even larger when his surprisingly strong performance was singled out in many of this year’s award ceremonies, earning accolades and more than 20 nominations, including the Golden Globe and BAFTA.
The thing that mostly surprised all the viewers is not only that he personifies the hijacker so well, but that he is able to give him a full dimension no one had foreseen, and he also stood tall next to Hanks, to the point that he got the Oscar nomination and not the already 2-times Oscar winner.
Born in Philadelphia in 1975 Cooper started his career with a small role in Sex and the City. After appearing in several comedies like ‘Wedding Crashers’, ‘Failure to Launch’ ‘Yes Man’ and ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ and some B-horror films like ‘My Little Eye’ and ‘The Midnight Meat Train’, the future would bring a stellar role in a successful comedy franchise called ‘The Hangover’ which spanned two sequels, and pushed his acting career to leading roles in films like ‘Case 39’, ‘Limitless’, ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ and his first Oscar nomination as the bipolar Pat in David O’Russell’s ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. He completed ‘Serena’ for Danish Director Susanne Bier, with his co-star of Silver Linings, Jennifer Lawrence before his next project with O’Russel came out and became the Oscar front runner.
In ‘American Hustle’ Cooper plays Richie DiMaso, the very naïve FBI Agent that makes a deal with two con artists to catch bigger fish. His involvement spirals out of control when he falls for one of them (The supposedly English aristocrat “Lady Edith Greensley”) and invests FBI money that will never be returned. The key to this character is his fake curly hair that shows much of his disposable façade and a very weak core.
For Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence's Oscar nominated performance on this film, click on the following links:
Silver Linings Playbook
In O’Russell’s ‘Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a recently released bipolar patient who returns home to a dysfunctional family and tries to regain his freedom as an adult man, specially with the help of Tiffany, a mysterious younger woman with problems of her own. She gives him focus and softens his hyperkinetic behavior. This was Cooper’s first Oscar Nominated performance.
This German-Irish actor who jumped to fame with a couple of films by Steve McQueen (‘Hunger’ and ‘Shame’), is up for his first Oscar as the sadistic Plantation Owner Edwin Epps. His dubious acts demonstrate a man who uses power as a way to conceal his weaknesses, provided that social injustice is the law of the day. On a supporting role, Fassbender shines as strong as in leading roles, in some of the most intense dramatic scenes of his still short career.
For more on Fassbender's acting career, click on the following link:
In 2011 Jonah Hill was the first one shocked at his Oscar nomination for best supporting actor for his work in Bennett Miller’s Moneyball. Here was a young Angelino actor who had been mostly cast in comedies because of his physical qualities, who found himself involved in a project of more importance. He had been cast in films like ‘Knocked up’ and ‘Superbad’ before he was offered a role in the indie ‘Cyrus’ which was strong in Sundance and took him to bigger and better roles like ’21 Jump Street’, ‘This is The End’, and finally Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, which garnered his second Oscar nomination. In an interview with Howard Stern, Hill said he had earned $60,000 for his role”, while DiCaprio was in the millions, but of course it was the price he had to pay for being in a Scorsese film and being rewarded with a nomination.
For Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar nominated role in the same film, click on the following link:
Fresh from 'Cyrus' an indie film that made him a sensation, above his work in successful comedies, Hill was cast along Brad Pitt in Bennett Miller's revered film about a baseball team and how 'money talks'. He received his first Oscar nomination which allowed him to be taken seriously and helped him move to even leading roles.
Born in 1971, Leto has diversified his acting career as lead singer of the band Thirty Seconds to Mars, as well as being a director, producer, photographer, businessman and activist. His impressive performance in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ as the transsexual Rayon came after a 5-year hiatus from acting, which has reinforced his already impressive resume.
After years of acting in films like Terrence Malick’s ‘The Thin Red Line’, David Fincher’s ‘The Fight Club’ and Mary Harron’s ‘American Psycho’, he was cast in Darren Aronofsky’s choral film ‘Requiem for a Dream’ giving a mesmerizing performance as a young addict.
For his role of Rayon, Leto lost 30 pounds and wore make up and was in costume throughout filming, even leaving the location to go grocery shopping in character. His total immersion in the character is impressive by any standards.
For Matthew McConnaughey's Oscar nominated role in this film, click on the following link:
Requiem For a Dream
In Darren Aronofsky's 'Requiem for a Dream' Leto plays Harry, son to amphetamine addict Sarah Goldfarb (played by Oscar nominated Ellen Burstyn) and boyfriend to Marion (Jennifer Connelly). They both share dreams of leaving the drug underworld, yet they end up swallowed by it, specially in the case of Harry, who is infected and suffers the consequences.
In 2002 Leto worked again with David Fincher in ‘Panic Room’ with Jodie Foster and Forest Whitaker. In it, he gives a scary performance as Junior, one of the home invaders who think he has everything planned.
In 2004, he starred in Oliver Stone’s historical epic ‘Alexander’ along Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie. Leto plays Hephaistion, a loyal childhood friend to Alexander and with whom he engages in a secret homosexual affair.