If it weren’t for Sam Rockwell winning the Screen Actor’s Guild award, not to mention the Golden Globes and the British Academy Award, I’d be able to say there are two good reasons he won’t win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. First, Woody Harrelson is nominated in the same category in the same film, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Second, Rockwell plays too over-the-top as a dumb yokel with only angry prejudice to sooth his inferiority. He does a great job portraying the police deputy and mama’s boy, true. However, the clever poignance and substance spun into this yarn could have been one notch better if they crafted the final reckoning without Rockwell’s character swinging from such an extreme stereotype.
“Woody Harrelson” strikes the perfect centered and central tone. It deserves more credit than Rockwell plying so close to caricature. As the police chief named on a rural billboard, Harrelson has to play off and above the locals. He has to find an even keel through compromised situations while carrying an added story burden.
Cancel each other out? Nah. Harrelson’s mere nomination will be Rockwell’s Oscar.
Maybe Rockwell’s near caricature performance is easier for Oscar to buy than the exaggerated support role Richard Jenkins plays in “The Shape of Water.” Not really. With low self-esteem issues,
including the angst of being gay in the 1950s, Jenkins balances, even catalyzes the fanciful, romantic, and confident lines of the story. He portrays a timid man in a way that enriches this kind of imaginative storytelling.
Sometimes the best reason for a Best Supporting Actor nomination is the sideways opportunity to encourage seeing a film like “The Florida Project.” Willem Dafoe does the part right. He’s a motel manager, trying to do a good job, trying to be a good guy, a caring guy for his economically marginal long-term renters.
“The Florida Project” is a pretty much nonjudgmental look at a seedier side of society. The single mom doing the best she can, is she a bad mom? Could a bad mom have such a mischievous, resilient, joy of a six-year-old? It’s a good film, and Brooklynn Prince is the top reason to see it.
There’s only one unimpressive nominee for Supporting Actor this year, Christopher Plummer. Oh, he does solid work as J. Paul Getty in “All the Money in the World.” Getty is only interesting because of the tight-fisted, unkind way he is absurdly rich but not rich enough.
Based on a true story, Getty clearly loved money more than he loved his kidnapped grandson. Plummer, already the oldest actor to win an Oscar (“Beginners” at age 82), should feel honored enough, at 88, just being the oldest Oscar nominee.