The nominees are:
- Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
- Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
- Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild (not seen)
- Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
How I did: 80%.
01. Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
2007’s film about how obsessesion and idolatry can so easily turn to jealousy and resentment stars Brad Pitt as the first titled character – the poster boy, charming but a little unhinged Jesse James, and Casey Affleck, the second, the sad loser who hero-worships him, but then love turns to hate and he kills him. Turning to the outside world, Robert Ford expects applause and adoration. Instead, he is met with curiosity, and finally, dislike.
Casey completely nails Bob Ford, he portrays the character as needy, ambitious and annoying, the creepiest of creeps, but one of the most watchable ones too. Jesse’s older brother tells him that he "give[s] me the willies," and, from the start, we suspect that his admiration for Jesse James James is a little off-balance; he's at least as crazy as Jesse in his worship. Affleck gives Bob pathos as a sad outsider, someone who tries too hard to get his way and so desperately wants to be liked, using arrogance as a facade for an insecure interior. I actually felt sorry for the coward.
Casey Affleck’s portrayal of a craven obsession turning sour, envy and desperation to be like the icon they worshipped through comics and newspaper articles (esteem he never gets, neither from Jesse James or the public) is a wonderfully pathetic, sad piece of work and one of the best charater studies of the 00s. It might be a lead performance, he might dserve to be punished for being in Ocean's 13 and his brother might be a bit turdy, but really, give Casey the Oscar. My favourite performance of the year. A
02. Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
In No Country for Old Men, Javier Bardem gives arguable the best performance of his career (I need to give The See Inside a rewatch). He plays a character who is completely deranged, completely psycho and devoid of any human qualities. Every time his hand rose to do something, or he opened his mouth to say something, the audience felt terrified. And then, when he does speak, his words (spoken in a slightly out-of-this world voice with no Spanish accent) sound like they are being directed by something truly evil. The enigmatic presence he holds and his character's obsession with fortune (the coin-toss scene with a hapless shop clerk was tense as anything) carries on throughout the film, yet I could never pin-point exactly what it was about the performance that was so terrifying. And the Briony-in-Atonement haircut only adds to his scariness factor. A-.
03. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
The best performance in a movie that also stars Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, Philip Seymour Hoffman is on scintillating form as the street smart CIA manipulator in a role that could potentially be small, but ends up, under him, larger than life. The scenes between him and Hanks are an absolute joy, the exchanges between their characters were the most entertaining in the movie. Stealing every scene he’s in, Phil’s got another great performance to add to his basket of good work from 2007, alongside Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and The Savages. B+/A-
04. Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Like Swinton in Michael Clayton (all these names - Swinton, Wilkinson, Clayton, end in "on"), I felt Wilkinson didn’t do anything majorly wrong, had some good scenes, and, as ever, was compelling to watch, even if I never felt anything toward his character (in terms of contempt or sympathy.) B-
Who will win: Javier Bardem
Who deserves to win: Casey Affleck
Who deserved to get nominated: Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood