Best Supporting Actor – 1982

Official Nominations: Louis Gossett Jr. Charles Durning. John Lithgow. James Mason. Robert Preston.

One of the least likely categories on the surface given that most people today will likely only recognise one of the names, and likely for his TV work. Look closer and we have a grand total of three veteran nods, a courtesy nomination for Lithgow, and the first time an African American won in this category. Gossett Jr is a good shout for the win – he’s the best part of An Officer And A Gentleman and owns every scene he’s in. John Lithgow plays a transgender ex football player who is befriended by Garp… it’s a good performance, Lithgow has certainly been better but it’s nice to see him getting a nomination, but it’s not the most agreeable movie – one wonders how a John Waters would have handled such material.

James Mason is never less than awesome in anything he does – his sneering charm exemplified in The Verdict as the conniving lawyer opposing Paul Newman while Robert Preston gets another chance to smile, sing, and dance in Victor/Victoria. Finally, Charles Durning chews it up as the lilly-livered Governor in The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. He’s good, not sure he needs to be in the category and it feels like covering all of their ‘must have nominations for any and all musicals’ bases. Interestingly, both Durning and Lithgow would get nominations next year too.

Incidentally, what was going on in 1982 in terms of trans-rights and discussion? We have Lithgow here, we have Victor/Victoria, we have Tootsie, we have The Year Of Living Dangerously – all films with men playing or dressing up as women, women playing men – has this happened before?

My Winner: Louis Gossett Jr.

Louis Gossett Jr. in An Officer and A Gentleman | Louis Goss… | Flickr

My Nominations: Louis Gossett Jr. James Mason. Rutger Hauer. James Earl Jones. Burgess Meredith.

Two are joined by three, although most will likely dismiss two of my additions. It’s probably bad form to nominate the same actor for playing the same character by the point we reach their third appearance, but Meredith is so good here as Mickey – a more subtle performance, less thunder, more fragile. James Earl Jones… lets all agree he is one of many elements which elevates Conan The Barbarian to a higher status than most would say a film called Conan The Barbarian deserves. He treats the dialogue like his own personal play-thing and while many would ham it up, his take on Thulsa Doom is gripping, chilling, and his delivery and charisma is such that you believe he could lure impressionable youths to their deaths with just a word and a nod. Finally, our winner. Rutger Hauer was a revelation to audiences in Blade Runner. Few knew he was already an established European powerhouse, but his portrayal of Roy Batty is one of the all time great Sci-Fi performances – threatening, soulful, unhinged, wise.

My Winner: Rutger Hauer

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Supporting Actor – 1981

Official Nominations: John Gielgud. James Coco. Ian Holm. Jack Nicholson. Howard E Rollins.

An interesting list of names this year, although the win still feels like a classic veteran win – did we really need another one of these after Best Actor and Actress? I suppose it was his only Oscar so I can’t be too angry, and given he’s an undisputed legend of Stage and Screen it only seems fair that he’d have one to his name. Plus, he’s very funny in Arthur as Arthur’s servant/handler/weary father figure. Out of all the veteran wins this year, this one feels the most justified based on the performance.

Elsewhere, Jack Nicholson racks up another nomination for Reds – a film I always forget he’s in, even though he’s good. He’s always good, which is part of the problem, and some of the films he made in the years around 1981 are simply more interesting than Reds. Ian Holm earned his only Academy nom for his performance in Chariots Of Fire – again, I don’t love the film but it’s one you feel you need to watch as a film fan and Holm is perfectly fine.

The final two nominations are the least known – James Coco feels like another example of The Academy having to nominate someone for a Neil Simon piece – not a film most people will remember and the performance doesn’t stand out. Howard E Rollins was similarly more known for his TV work and in truth this has always felt like a strange nomination. Not because it’s a bad performance – it isn’t – but because there are so many bit players who are equally strong that you could make a case for any of them to have the nomination, and equally you could make the case that Rollins is the lead of Ragtime. For me it’s probably between Rollins and Gielgud, and am both happy with and conflicted by either choice.

My Winner: John Gielgud

Best Actor: Best Supporting Actor 1981: John Gielgud in Arthur

My Nominations: John Gielgud. Howard Rollins. James Cagney. Ronald Lacey.

Two make it to my list, and I add my own version of hate I can’t stand – the Veteran nomination. It’s my blog, I can contradict myself. I only started this Oscar journey for 1960 onwards, and Jimmy Cagney is one of the greatest performers of all time – he’d all but checked out by 1960. One of the biggest tragedies of that fact is that Cagney missed out on two of Hollywood’s finest decades – the 60s and 70s – just think of what he could have done had he worked with some of the writers, performers, directors who emerged in this period. So he gets a nomination, and he’s as good as anyone else in Ragtime. 

Sometimes you have to nominate someone purely, or mostly, based on the impact they had on you as an individual viewer. As you grow up you hear than many others felt the same impact. Ronald Lacey, as the scheming Nazi Toht (not Thot) in Raiders Of The Lost Ark is one such instance. Lacey exudes scum with charisma, and is the memorable villain of the piece over and above Belloq. Even with all of the boulders and booby traps and snakes which will live on in memory, Lacey’s sneering, sweating maw is one you’ll never tire of seeing being melted.

My Winner: Ronald Lacey

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Supporting Actor – 1980

Official Nominations: Timothy Hutton. Judd Hirsch. Michael O’Keefe. Joe Pesci. Jason Robards.

On the surface, this isn’t the most interesting category for casual movie viewers. There aren’t many big names or big movies mentioned but that shouldn’t diminish the quality of the performances or movies. Hutton was the youngest ever winner in this category at the time, winning for his pained performance as the alienated and suffering son of the Conrad family, struggling to deal with loss, guilt, and change. While I would still argue that Ordinary People is a little too close to a Soap Opera than a movie, there’s no doubting the performances. Judd Hirsch picked up a nomination for the film too, playing the sympathetic doctor working to help Conrad through his trauma. Michael O’Keefe I can dismiss immediately under my rules, because The Great Santini was a 1979 movie. Joe Pesci didn’t quite debut in Raging Bull but it’s the first film where people took notice. He’s in the shadow of De Niro for much of the film, but as Jake’s brother Joey, he gets plenty of mileage from being a more meek, less unstable version of the boxing anti-hero. His journey is less pronounced than Jake’s, but is worthy of a film all of its own with Pesci as the star. Finally, a further nomination for Jason Robards to round out his golden trilogy of successes of the late 70s and early 80s. He stars as Howard Hughes in the little remembered Melvin And Howard and while he’s not in the movie much, it may be the pinnacle of his support work.

My Winner: Joe Pesci

Raging Bull" and the Rise of Joe Pesci | The Spool

My Nominations: Joe Pesci. Jason Robards. Rodney Dangerfield. Anthony Hopkins.

As much as I love the 80s as a movie era, the first few years are quite shaky in quality, at least in terms of my personal preferences. 1980 in particular… I don’t think it’s a very strong year in general, but definitely weak where my preferences are concerned. I bring two over from the main field and add one snub and one cult hero. Rodney Dangerfield as a unique comedian known for his whip-smart one-liners as well as his physical presence, bug eyed and on the brink of lunacy. Caddyshack was his first real attempt at breaking through the big screen, and his success within the film led to a variety of future supporting and lead roles. In an ensemble of all time great comics, he’s one of the standout performers. Anthony Hopkins may have felt peeved at not receiving a nomination for his work in The Elephant Man. While obviously overshadowed by the lead, Hopkins is at his best as the conflicted Doctor who ‘discovers’ Merrick and realises that by exposing him to the medical community he is still treating him as an object rather than a man.

My Winner: Joe Pesci

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Supporting Actor – 1979

Official Nominations: Melvyn Douglas. Robert Duvall. Justin Henry. Micky Rooney. Frederic Forrest.

The most notable thing about this category this year is in the age differences of the nominees – Melvyn Douglas won for Being There at age 79 and Justin Henry for Kramer vs Kramer at age 8. It’s difficult on the surface to see how an 8 year old could be nominated, but then you see his performance and get it – he’s fully committed and even though his parents probably still brushed his teeth for him, he achieves something few of us ever will. You get the sense he understands the character and he’s convincing. Douglas, there’s an argument for him being the lead in Being There depending on how you view the film, plays a dying businessman and adviser to the President who strikes up a friendship with the simple-minded Peter Sellers. It’s a gentle comedy and a quiet veteran performance.

Robert Duvall would normally be the sure-fire winner; it’s Apocalypse Now and he delivers one of the most famous, quotable speeches in movie history, strutting around topless as bombs drop and bullets whiz by. The problem is, it’s short a small role – pivotal and iconic, but he’s not on screen for long. Then again, he’s just so damn good. Mickey Rooney is another veteran nod – he’s good but doesn’t deliver anything out of the ordinary, while Frederic Forrest (also in Apocalypse Now) got a deserved nomination for The Rose as the driver who gets it on with Bette Middler’s ill-fated character. I’m torn between two here, but when I factor in who is the most memorable….

My Winner: Robert Duvall

Armed Storytelling: The Weaponry of Apocalypse | Apocalypse Now 101

My Nominations: Robert Duvall. Justin Henry. Frederic Forrest. Marlon Brando. Ian Holm.

Look, we get it. Brando spurred you. It hurts. Get over it. There’s no way he doesn’t get nominated for Apocalypse Now – it just makes the whole thing look like a sham. Of course we know it is, but they could be less obvious. Brando as Kurtz – similar to Duvall’s Kilgore – isn’t on screen for a long time, but manages to squeeze more intensity and a more memorable performance into a few minutes than many actors do their entire careers. There’s iconic, then there’s Brando. My only other addition is Ian Holm for Alien, a performance played so straight that the revelation behind his character is still a shocker for newcomers. It’s one of the best quietly creepy performances you’ll ever see, with Holm calculating every word and movement to the extent that, when you watch it again knowing the twist, you’re looking for clues. This is a close one out of the main three, and any is a worthy winner.

My Winner: Ian Holm

Best Supporting Actor – 1978

Official Nominations: Christopher Walken. Bruce Dern. Richard Farnsworth. John Hurt. Jack Warden.

As strong as this category is, Christopher Walken is the clear winner for me. Walken had already been appearing in movies for over a decade, but it’s his heartbreaking, devastating turn as the damaged Vietnam vet, Nick, who is so traumatized by his experience that he forces himself to relive them over again afterwards. He isn’t yet going full Walken, but the early twitches and vocal acrobatics are there, yet it is a performance grounded in reality and delivered with an uncanny force leading to one of the most famous climaxes in Cinema.

Bruce Dern plays another man damaged by the war and returning home to find his former life shattered. It’s another strong performance characterized by Dern’s singular approach and in another year would be a worthy winner. Richard Farnsworth had been an uncredited actor and stunt performer for decades but finally broke through with a surprise performance and nomination in the little remembered Comes A Horseman. It’s not a role overly vital to the plot or significance of the film but it’s nice to see a professional getting recognised and being allowed to take that next step with great success.

Jack Warden is always a commanding presence in any film, his brand of stern authority and comedy merging to great results in many cases – here he also gets to show a softer side. Finally, John Hurt gets a nomination for Midnight Express as a shriveled addict who befriends the lead character. In theory any of the supporting cast could get a nomination here, but Hurt plays the character who stays longest in our memory.

My Winner: Christopher Walken

My Nominations: Christopher Walken. John Hurt. Gary Busey. John Savage. Gene Hackman. Michael Jackson.

Two of the official boyos make it onto my list to craft a very motley crew. Along with his official Best Actor nomination this year, I stick Busey into the Supporting sphere thanks to yet another Vietnam coming of age film – Big Wednesday. Busey is one of the lead trio, in a role that would perhaps inspire the rest of his career as ‘the crazy one’. It is more grounded than what he would later deliver, but it’s a clear jumping off point. John Savage continues the nominations for The Deer Hunter, justifiably getting some of the attention usually reserved for Walken and De Niro. His turn as the eventually paraplegic Steven is one of the many reasons why the film is still held in such high regard.

Gene Hackman has another stab at comedy after being mainly known for his serious roles in dramatic thrillers. His Lex Luthor is joyfully maniacal and suitably camp – Superman was never meant to be a ‘dark’ or ‘gritty’ story (sorry Release The Snyder Cut fans) given it’s about a wholesome corn-fed fella flapping about the sky in fetching spandex. Hackman plays it a level of sophistication above the 60s Batman TV series, but with knowing smirks – one suspects he wasn’t aware that the film was going to be such a success. Finally, keeping things in a pseudo-camp vein is The Wiz – a jived up retelling of The Wizard Of Oz. Not content with being one of the best, most successful singers and dancers in the world at the time, Michael Jackson tried his hand at acting. Honestly, based on his performance here it’s unfortunate he never attempted much more subsequently as he is arguably the best reason for watching the film.

My Winner: Christopher Walken

Let us know in the comments who you pick as your Best Supporting Actor of 1978!

Best Supporting Actor – 1977

Official Nominations: Jason Robards. Mikhail Baryshnikov. Alec Guinness. Peter Firth. Max Schell.

It’s not planned – I promise. It’s just that, again, I fnd the Star Wars nominee to be the best choice. Any new readers to these Oscars posts, just remember that these are simply my personal preferences, not based off Oscar history or buzz or necessarily who was ‘best’. Just which one I would have liked to win. It gets even more personal with My Nominations, but I try not to just add any old crap for the sake of it – I just don’t adhere to the Oscar rules or tropes.

But yes, Star Wars wins again for me here. Alec Guinness reportedly wasn’t a fan of the movie or script, but he plays the role straight and perfectly characterizes the old, wise hermit with a long detailed history. It’s Obi Wan Kenobi – everyone knows him. Can the average person on the street name any of the other characters nominated this year? Dashiell Hammett maybe. Jason Robards officially won as Hammett this year – he’s the love interest of of the woman searching for the missing title character. There’s a huge section of the film he’s not part of – not always a problem when this is a supporting role considering some have won for single scenes in the past. He’s solid but the issue with the movie is that we mainly care about the women. Max Schell was also nominated here, but it’s an even smaller role and feels like it was a shoehorned nomination. Peter Firth holds his own against Richard Burton in Equus – a film with enough controversy surrounding it that someone was always going to be nominated. He’s good but who doesn’t think of Harry Potter when they think of this role now? Finally, Mikhail Baryshnikov was nominated because he was the most famous dancer in the world. Even when there’s no Musical worth nominating, The Academy still has to force a dancer (or two in this year’s case) into the running. He shouldn’t be here – he’s better in Sex And The City. 

My Winner: Alec Guinness

My Nominations: Alec Guinness. Richard Gere. Raf Vallone. Jeroen Krabbe. Bruno Cremer. Harrison Ford.

Only Guinness makes it over to my personal list. The interesting thing about voting for someone because the character is iconic, is where do you cut off? Richard Kiel is the very essence of iconic, but would you vote him for The Spy Who Love Me? Guinness is good, quietly so, as befitting the character. Honestly, this was a great year for leading male performances – but supporting not so much. Most of those I nominate I don’t feel would have made the cut in other years, and are more to encourage you to watch the films as they have been underrepresented. Raf Vallone as a vengeful millionaire in The Other Side Of Midnight and Richard Gere as the abusive Tony in Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Maybe I should nominate Kiel?

Taking things down a more legitimate path, Jeroen Krabbe supports Rutgar Hauer as another passionate Resistance member in Soldier Of Orange, and Bruno Cremer as the straight man and negotiator on the run in Sorcerer. If Guinness is nominated in support, it only seems fair that Harrison Ford joins him for his Han Solo. He adds the roguish charm and sense of grounded cynicism to counter all of the fantasy going on, and in many scenes it’s him who catches the eye. Lets balance things and go with Ford this time.

My Winner: Harrison Ford

Let us know in the comments who you would pick as winner for Best Supporting Actor of 1977!

Best Supporting Actor – 1976

Official Nominations: Jason Robards. Ned Beatty. Burgess Meredith. Laurence Olivier. Burt Young.

This is a horrible year in that it’s a horrible choice – anyone is a good winner. Hold on, that actually makes it good, not horrible. It’s difficult to decide though. I think we can drop Young because I prefer Meredith from Rocky. Robards and Beatty are great, but Beatty’s role is too small when viewed alongside the others – Robards picked up the official win for All The President’s Men. Finally, Laurence Olivier goes WAY against type in Marathon Man as a Nazi and a fan of the old ultra-torture. He is terrifying, and in any other year deserves the win. However, my love for Rocky means that Meredith gets my win.

My Winner: Burgess Meredith

rocky-1976.jpg

My Nominations: Jason Robards. Ned Beatty. Burgess Meredith. Laurence Olivier. Burt Young. Darwin Joston. Carl Weathers. Harvey Keitel.

All the official nominees make it to my list so lets look at the extras. Now, if Burt Young and Burgess Meredith get nods for Rocky, then there’s no way my man Apollo Creed shouldn’t be there too, with Carl Weathers doing his very best impersonation of Ali, with a little more pizzazz. Harvey Keitel is another dirty piece in Scorsese’s grimy puzzle, playing a scumbag pimp who clashes with De Niro’s Taxi Driver – not quite reversing the roles from Mean Streets but definitely allowing Keitel to expand his horizons a little. Finally, making a large statement (but sadly one which he would never build upon) is Darwin Joston as Napoleon in Assault On Precinct 13 – the chain-smoking criminal who gets all the best lines and snarls and charms his way past cops, secretaries, and faceless goons alike.

My Winner: Burgess Meredith

Let us know who pick to be the Best Supporting Actor of 1976!

Best Supporting Actor – 1975

Official Nominations: George Burns. Brad Dourif. Burgess Meredith. Chris Sarandon. Jack Warden.

A lot of veteran nods this year, with Burns becoming the oldest winner (at the time) at 80 years old. Burgess Meredith follows with Day Of The Locust where he’s one of the story’s many failures, eking out his final days still trying to perform to anyone who’ll listen.  Jack Warden stars as a rich man and unwittingly part of a sexual rectangle… pentangle.. who knows? He gets many of Shampoo’s best lines and memorable moments. Brad Dourif is one of several well acted and sympathetic side characters in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest while Chris Sarandon is effective as Pacino’s transgender wife in Dog Day Afternoon. 

My Winner: Brad Dourif

My NominationsBrad Dourif. John Cazale. Richard Dreyfuss. Robert Shaw. Richard O’Brien. Oliver Reed. 

Even though all the official nominees are worthy, I’m only taking Dourif. Replacing Sarandon is John Cazale who gives the more notable performance in Dog Day Afternoon as Sonny’s hapless partner. Oliver Reed is equally hapless in Tommy, at least when it comes to bringing Roger Daltry out of his crippling psychosis, while Richard O’Brien as Riff Raff is a personal favourite in a film where everyone has their own pick. Finally, we have Jaws and both Dreyfuss and Shaw giving career-defining performances.

My Winner: Robert Shaw

Best Supporting Actor – 1974

Official Nominations: Robert De Niro. Fred Astaire. Jeff Bridges. Michael V Gazzo. Lee Strasberg.

Lets be clear – basically any of the male supporting cast from The Godfather II could be nominated here. We get three of them, but there’s room for more, and there’s a case for De Niro being in the Lead category too. Any way you slice this though, De Niro wins. His Vito Corleone performance is a marked step up from anything he had done previously, and he arguably covers more ground than Brando did. The legendary teacher, Lee Strasberg got a nod too – ordinarily I would be cynical about this, but his performance is terrific – as is Gazzo’s as the side-switching ‘Five Fingers’. Elsewhere, Jeff Bridges continues his string of early hits with an endearing performance as the petty crook Lightfoot, while Fred Astaire gets the unnecessary veteran nod in The Towering Inferno – thankfully there isn’t much dancing.

My Winner: Robert De Niro

My Nominations: Robert De Niro. Jeff Bridges. Michael V Gazzo. Lee Strasberg. John Cazale. Gastone Moschin. Kris Kristofferson. Christopher Lee. Gene Wilder. Marty Feldman. Peter Boyle.

Four make it over, and a host of others join them. The Godfather Part II is the big winner, with the dastardly duo of Fredo and Don Fanucci joining their comrades, while Wilder gets a nod here for Blazing Saddles as well as a lead nod in the other category. Feldman and Boyle both excel in Young Frankenstein, Christopher Lee makes for one of the most charming and memorable Bond villains, and Kris Kristofferson brings the beard and heart-throbbing in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. 

My Winner: Robert De Niro

Best Supporting Actor – 1973

Official Nominations: John Houseman. Vincent Gardenia. Jack Gilford. Jason Miller. Randy Quaid.

It’s a strange one this year – on one hand your average film viewer will look at the nominees and maybe recognise one of them, on the other hand they’re all good performances. John Houseman won the award this year for The Paper Chase, a role he would carry on in the TV series of the same name. It’s the one really good thing in the movie, but it’s another example of someone getting an award for the career they have had instead of specifically for the performance. Vincent Gardenia is equally good in Bang The Drums Slowly, a pretty average sports movie raised by a cast also including Robert De Niro and Michael Moriarty. Both average films, both fairly decent performances though hardly remarkable.

Jack Gilford supports Jack Lemmon in Send Away The Tiger – his character the straight man to Lemmon’s frail, destructive one. Again, a fine performance, but not one I’m sure needs to be nominated. The two most noteworthy performances here are Randy Quaid for The Last Detail and Jason Miller for The Exorcist. There’s a case that Miller should be in the lead category but we won’t worry about that, while Quaid is at least of equal importance in The Last Detail, though up against Jack Nicholson. Quaid is a sailor who is being sent down for 8 years for a minor crime, and Nicholson is charged with taking him to prison. They have a bunch of adventures and it’s good fun. The Exorcist was Miller’s first performance and he is terrific in it, stoic, strong, tormented, and torn. I think we know who I’ll be picking.

My Winner: Jason Miller

My Nominations: Jason Miller. Randy Quaid. Max Von Sydow. Robert Shaw. Yul Brynner. Christopher Lee.

I think we all know who I’ll be picking here too. Max Von Sydow joins Jason Miller from The Exorcist – the veteran priest who has been tackling demons such as Pazuzu for some time. Von Sydow is every bit as memorable as Miller but brings an entirely different tone to proceedings. Robert Shaw could be understandably peeved at missing out on a nomination for The Sting considering the other awards and nominations it received. Shaw’s performance as Lonnegan is integral to the success of the film.

Yul Brynner is chilling in Westworld, going against type as a villain (and a robot), in this proto-Terminator role. I fully admit it’s a weird nomination since he doesn’t really have to emote or do anything except look bad-ass. He steals every scene he’s in just by being there and he is what most people remember about the movie. Finally, Christopher Lee revels in his favourite role as Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man. All of his wirey charm and alluring dark majesty are on display, and he is quite jovial as he poetically recites his lines. You can tell he’s having a whale of a time and that he knows the audience will too.

My Winner: Christopher Lee

Let us know who you pick as the Best Supporting Actor of 1973!