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

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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