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


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!

Best Supporting Actor – 1972

Official Nominations: Joel Grey. Eddie Albert. James Caan. Robert Duvall. Al Pacino.

Part of me is glad that Joel Grey won here – the Buffy part. Buffy fans will know what I’m talking about. However, he’s going up against The Godfather cast so good luck. I’m not sure Robert Duvall does enough here to warrant a nomination, especially when some others from the movie didn’t make it. He’s great, no doubt, but I’d take a few others over him. James Caan is more obviously notable over the understated Duvall, starring as the hot-headed Sonny. Al Pacino is the star of the show, still a little odd that he didn’t get the main actor nod but he’s my winner here regardless in a role that grows and grows from reluctant first scene to crushing last. Finally, Eddie Albert gets his second nomination, this time for The Heartbreak Kid. It’s funny, he’s great, but he has no chance against Pacino here.

My Winner: Al Pacino


My Nominations: Joel Grey. Eddie Albert. James Caan. Robert Duvall. Al Pacino. Jon Voight.

I don’t have any issue with any of the nominations this year. There’s a case for Voight being a lead in Deliverance, but due to the ensemble nature of the film I’m happy to have him here. Out of the four central characters in the movie I feel he gives the most committed and varied performance. There are plenty of other great performances this year, but I don’t think any compete with those above and certainly won’t impact my choice of winner.

My Winner: Al Pacino

Let us know in the comments who you pick as the Best Supporting Actor of 1972!

Best Supporting Actor – 1971

Official Nominations: Ben Johnson. Jeff Bridges. Leonard Frey. Richard Jaeckel. Roy Scheider.

Ben Johnson was reluctant to star in the role that would win him the Oscar originally, the stunt man and rodeo cowboy turned actor a perfect fit for Sam The Lion. His years of experience mark his performance with a realism and poignancy which is hard to come by and difficult to top. Alongside him in The Last Picture Show is Jeff Bridges as Duane, the fiery and energetic kid of the tale and an early sign of Bridges’ talents. Leonard Frey had starred in the stage version of Fiddler On The Roof but takes on a different part for the movie – it’s one of about 80 roles in the film and I don’t see any need for this one to be nominated. Richard Jaekel is the odd one out here – even more so given that it was for Sometimes A Great Notion which came out a year earlier. It’s a good film that no-one remembers and a decent performance. Finally, Roy Scheider is strong alongside Gene Hackman in The French Connection – Buddy is the perfect partner for Doyle and Scheider fills the role so fully you can’t see anyone else doing it.

My Winner: Jeff Bridges


My Nominations: Ben Johnson. Jeff Bridges. Roy Scheider. Timothy Bottoms. Cleavon Little. David Gulpilil. Jack Albertson. Donald Pleasance.

If the other two actors are there, then surely we have to include Timothy Bottoms for The Last Picture Show too? Elsewhere I add David Gulpilil’s breakout performance in Walkabout, Cleavon Little’s commentary in Vanishing Point, Jack Albertson’s energy in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, and drunk Donald Pleasance for Wake In Fright.

My Winner: Jeff Bridges

Let us know in the comments who you would give the Best Supporting Acting Award of 1971 to!

Best Supporting Actor – 1970

Official Nominations: John Mills. Richard S Castellano. Chief Dan George. Gene Hackman. John Marley.

John Mills was always going to get nominated or be a winner eventually, and this was his year. It’s a bit of an embarrassing performance and it’s an odd one out in any normal year – this year though we have some strange/interesting nominations. Speaking of, Chief Dan George at the ripe old age of 71 got his most famous part alongside Dustin Hoffman in in Little Big Man, opening doors for other Native American performers. Similarly, Castellano hit the big time in Lovers And Other Strangers, while Gene Hackman was on the rise and could do no wrong getting another nomination in I Never Sang For My Father. Finally, John Marley, a veteran of big and small screen ensures another nod for Love Story as Jenny’s dad.

My Winner: Chief Dan George


My Nominations: Chief Dan George. Gene Hackman. George Kennedy. Leonard Frey. Robert Duvall.

Only two from the main list, and I’m struggling to pull over any additional strong supporting performances. Kennedy was in three films this year, but we’ll give him the nomination for Airport. Leonard Frey would find greater success the following year, but he’s very good in The Boys In The Band. This is probably a good place to give MASH it’s acting nomination so we’ll hand it to Robert Duvall for an early, surly performance.

My Winner: Chief Dan George

Let us know in the comments who you would pick as the Best Supporting Actor of 1970!

Best Supporting Actor – 1969

Official Nominations: Gig Young. Rupert Crosse. Elliot Gould. Jack Nicholson. Anthony Quayle.

Gig Young already had almost thirty years of performances and two Oscar nominations before he picked up the win for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They. It’s a suitably reptilian performance, a Cowell before there was a Cowell, as he eggs on competitors for his own amusement becoming the viewer’s focal point for rage, becoming more venomous with each minute. Rupert Crosse was primarily a TV actor before landing the role in The Reivers, and becoming the first African American to be nominated in this category. It’s a fine performance but your focus is always drawn to McQueen so it feels like a strange nomination. Gould picks up a nomination for his straight-laced portrayal and landed him on the map – it would almost become his signature role as he would continue to tow the line between comedy and drama with a straight face. Jack Nicholson makes an impact in Easy Rider, firmly announcing himself to the world in a typically madcap way. For the next few years Nicholson would play straighter characters before eventually going ‘full Nicholson’, and here he manages to shows a little of both sides. He is a minor character and doesn’t have a huge amount of screen time, but uses that time to perfection. Finally, it’s Anne Of The Thousand Days again and Anthony Quayle. It’s… very stagey, Quayle is good at authority but not so good at authority slipping away. It’s fine, just not something I would ever pick.

My Winner: Gig Young.


My Nominations: Gig Young. Jack Nicholson. Noel Coward. Gregory Peck. Robert Duvall. James Cann. Robert Ryan. Richard Thomas.

Only two from the official list make it over to mine. My list sees existing and future legends competing for the crown, with Noel Coward bringing the laughs in The Italian Job. Many would say that Peck’s role in Marooned was as a lead – he was certainly the big name, but I find it more of an ensemble piece so for the sake of argument he’s being included. It’s a tense movie and Peck is his usual commanding self, and is conflicted and at odds with various characters throughout the movie. It’s a good performance and a movie no-one really remembers. Robert Duvall gets a nomination for The Rain People, already a star thanks to a number of previous big hits, but happy to appear in this seemingly minor indie. Again it isn’t a huge role but he garners enough empathy from the viewer and Natalie that he becomes another integral part.

Robert Ryan was notable as Captain Nemo in 1969, but he gets the nomination for his performance as Deke in The Wild Bunch, the Grim Repair stalking the central gang. We see him in flashback and in the present, and though ostensibly the villain we know that his revenge is justified given the circumstances. Ryan is just as cunning as the men he is chasing down and though it seems he is always one point behind he is in fact one step ahead. My final pick is for Richard Thomas, only 18 but already a veteran, very good as the bronzed, snobbish teen who gets his kicks through punishing and humiliating others – a little against type. Burns gets the most admiration in the film, but Thomas is very strong too.

My Winner: Gig Young


Let us know in the comments who is your pick as the Best Supporting Actor of 1969!