By Jonathan Edmondson
Arts & Entertainment Editor
The categories of Best Supporting Actor and Actress are two of my absolute favorite races each year, thanks to dynamic and versatile performances from both veteran and new actors alike. This year’s nominees have portrayed roles including three mothers, a father, a daughter, a brother, a physicist, a judge and a crazed music teacher. All 10 of the nominees are superbly talented and have made their mark in the world of cinema this year with outstanding career-defining supporting roles.
For the women, the race is packed with five outstanding females playing complex roles. Meryl Streep, breaking her own record for the most nominations for a single actor with an astounding 19 nods, showcases her vocal chops as the Witch in “Into the Woods.” She’s a scene stealer, as is Emma Stone as narcissistic Sam in “Birdman” and Keira Knightley as the inspirational Joan Clarke in “The Imitation Game.”
However, the two most defining and engaging performances come from Patricia Arquette and Laura Dern. Dern is heartbreaking as single-mother Bobbi in “Wild,” and Arquette is equally as impactful in “Boyhood.” Having swept the awards season thus far, it’s only fair to give this one to Arquette — it may be predictable, but damn does she deserve it.
For the men, the race is equally as impressive. There’s Robert Duvall, one of the oldest nominees in history playing the powerful Joseph Palmer in “The Judge.” Ethan Hawke plays opposite Arquette as a struggling father in “Boyhood,” a role in which he spent 12 years portraying. Mark Ruffalo also has a career-defining performance as Olympic wrestler David Schultz in the film “Foxcatcher.”
Then there’s Edward Norton, playing egotistical Broadway actor Mike Shiner in “Birdman” with devilish force and intensity, and finally J.K. Simmons as the psychotic music teacher Terrance Fletcher in “Whiplash.” Like Arquette, Simmons has been sweeping this season so far, and for good reason. As Fletcher, he breaks out of his usually comedic mold and delivers his best, most terrifying performance to date.
Don’t be surprised when his name is announced come Oscar night.