Oscars 2006: Best Supporting Actor
5. Djimon Hounsou as 'Soloman Vandy', Blood Diamond
Hounsou yells a lot in Blood Diamond, and he also cries a lot, but I don't really see how that gives him much character. Soloman Vandy is a empty vessel, and I think you could almost call him a plot device if the film didn't devote so much screentime to him. Soloman is the saint to the gunmen's sinners, the writer's- and Zwick's- way of assuring his audience that he's not, actually, racist, because look!, here's a nice black character, look, he's lost his family, look at him cry. The three roles that Hounsou has been acclaimed for- this, In America, and Amistad- have all had him playing virtually the same character, and, ironically, Hounsou seems to loose his grip on it a little more each time.
Likelihood of win: 8%
4. Alan Arkin as 'Grandpa', Little Miss Sunshine
I've talked about this before, but my basic issue with Alan Arkin's nomination is this- he wasn't even the most deserving supporting actor in the film. It's colourful work, sure, but rarely does it expand on that, and perhaps only in the scene they're sure to play on Oscar night- his final conversation with Olive, telling her that she IS actually beautiful. Arkin's playing of his character's love for his granddaughter is really quite moving, and the sole reason why I'm not more upset about this nomination than I would be otherwise.
Likelihood of win: 27%
3. Jackie Earle Haley as 'Ronnie J. McGorvey', Little Children
I hated Little Children, but that wasn't the fault of Jackie Earle Haley. His difficult role as a convicted sex offender is done no service by the script, yet Haley stays on the right marks for most of the time, most painfully in the excruciating date scene with a superb Jane Adams, where Ronnie tries desperately to hold tight onto a falsified image of himself, the person he wishes he was but can't possibly be. Ronnie's struggles with himself are ultimately dissected brittly by the shambolic ending, and I think that Haley looses his grip along with the slide, but for most of the film it's a challenging- for a mixture of reasons- role, well played.
Likelihood of win: 5%
2. Eddie Murphy as 'Jimmy Early', Dreamgirls
Eddie Murphy is the only major performer in Dreamgirls who actually forms anything resembling a character, perfectly aligning himself with the outrageous, unbalanced character he's playing, using his usual comedic excesses to mark out his musical numbers from the other performers', and revealing a crushed soul beneath it. Murphy is a firecracker in his numbers, yet he's just as commanding of the screen when he's sniffing drugs, or simply in the background- Murphy uses his unique facial expressions and vocal highs to add to his character, creating a tragic figure in a character you never expected to amount to much.
Likelihood of win: 45%
1. Mark Wahlberg as 'Dignam', The Departed
Wahlberg is a true supporting performance, and by this I mean that, after a bright start the script rather pushes him aside, leaving him fighting to get much screentime at all (until the final moments, at least) and having to combat the strange urges that Scorsese seems all too happy to indulge in Mr. Nicholson. Sure, Wahlberg's volatile, foul-mouthed officer isn't given much depth, but, not only is Wahlberg's delivery of some hilarious lines perfectly aggressive and quickfire, there's a deep-seated anger behind him that gently hints at something more. Scorsese doesn't persue this, and I'm glad: Wahlberg's Dignam remains the great unknown of the film, which makes the final moments all-the-more effective.
Likelihood of win: 15%
Coming next, and finally: Best Actress