Best Supporting Actor, 2001
(Click on the linked film titles for reviews of the corresponding films.)

Jim Broadbent


Moulin Rouge fans loved him. Then, having made viewers sigh at his sad-sack Pop in Bridget Jones's Diary, Broadbent went full throttle and made them bawl as John Bayley, the uxoriously devoted but increasingly frustrated husband of Iris Murdoch. Like Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock, or heck, Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind, Broadbent may prove that having the less "showy" of two parts in a biopic may secretly be the best means of getting noticed.

Iris won't reach the same wide audience that has certainly seen The Fellowship of the Ring, and Ian McKellen is a more established name who gives voters more impetus to reward him. Sure Broadbent won the Golden Globe, but McKellen wasn't competing.
Ethan Hawke
Training Day

Ethan, I like you, and therefore I'm not going to lie to you...
...ain't no chance. Unpopular movie, a dubious understanding of "supporting," and an off-the-charts Inexperience Factor compared to the other four nominees. This ingenue stuff works in Best Supporting Actress (Tomei, Paquin, Sorvino), but not here.
Ben Kingsley
Sexy Beast

Supporters have been trumpeting this performance all year. Like Memento's script, Kingsley's pure-id villain has been touted since last year's Oscar derby as a certain contender in this year's, and his most vocal proponents claim that he's reinvented an archetype. Nice switcheroo from the days of playing Gandhi.
Did I mention Gandhi? Kingsley already has an Oscar, which Broadbent and McKellen don't, nor is he likely to offer half so cuddly or puckish an acceptance speech. Don Logan, so say his detractors (and I agree with them), is a sort of high-concept part that operates at close to the same level throughout his screen time.
Ian McKellen
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Would anyone else have made this such a memorable role? Would even Alec "Obi-Wan" Guinness, Ralph "Greystoke" Richardson, Laurence "Clash of the Titans" Olivier—all those names with which McKellen's gets regularly bandied about—have had any such luck sliding into such a grand, robustly emotional spectacle and still managed to find both the humor and the power in Gandalf? And hey, isn't it embarrassing that this guy has no statues? John Gielgud won, after all those years doing classics, for playing Dudley Moore's butler in Arthur.
And, as everyone has been noticing lately, Alec Guinness lost in Star Wars. Guinness, let's remember, already had an Oscar, was a less ingratiating character, campaigned much less hard to win, and was up against Jason Robards of all people. So those debits may not hurt McKellen as much as the fact that McKellen is vying for votes among the same youngish crowd that Training Day and Sexy Beast are likely to impress. Broadbent has the whole old-fogey contingent in his corner.
Jon Voight

See Ethan Hawke.
It's a short performance in a strange makeup job with very little effect on the plot of a movie the bulk of the voters disregarded anyway. Voight's nomination was mostly fueled by pre-release hype; the fact that no one replaced him on this ballot largely implies there was no one to take his place.

WHO WILL WIN: Clearly a three-horse race, and even Kingsley's chances seem slimmer by the day. Between the two British thesps, I'm betting on Broadbent, for the reasons outlined above, plus the body-of-work factor: it's quite a year he's had.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Is it snobbish to wish that McKellen had won his first Oscar for a role other than Gandalf? Only to the extent that he's clearly been underused in cinema and overlooked by the Academy in the past. The part of Gandalf itself is layered complex enough to warrant the attention, and McKellen's playing is magisterial. If you believed at all that that ring wanted to be found, that its protection was a matter of life and death, if you waayyy felt that Pippin shouldn't have knocked that skeleton into that well...then McKellen's forceful silences and bold vocal swoops—up in the throat and down into the diaphragm, there and back again—were likely major reasons.

...AND WHO OUGHTA BEEN INVITED: Steve Buscemi gave Ghost World almost every ounce of affect it had, none of it sentimental. Amazing. Brian Cox made the otherwise clubfooted and mean-spirited L.I.E. hypnotic to watch. Carl Reiner and Elliott Gould put the "act" in "overacting" and showed those whippersnappers in Ocean's Eleven how a job really gets done. Instead of these guys, we get Broadbent going dotty and Voight doing party-trick impersonations?

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