Last week, this column took the first in a two-part break from Oscar-related dish to profile 10 deserving underdog actresses from this year's batch of films, including Adèle Exarchopoulos ("Blue is the Warmest Color"), Julie Delpy ("Before Midnight") and Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Enough Said"). This second part works in a similar vein, except this time it takes a look at the boys' club.
There's definitely a few good men from specialty films that are close to locked into both male acting categories this year, like Robert Redford ("All Is Lost"), Chiwetel Ejiofor ("12 Years a Slave"), Bruce Dern ("Nebraska") and Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club") in the lead category, and Michael Fassbender ("12 Years") and Jared Leto ("Dallas") in supporting (check out an updated weekly prediction charts here). But there's still a little bit of wiggle room (particularly in supporting), perhaps the same sort that brought performances from small films like "A Better Life" (Demian Bichir) and "The Messenger" (Woody Harrelson) into the mix in recent years. So perhaps one or two of the following will indeed end up in the running.
Commentators should once again keep in mind that the list purposely does not
include work that looks like a good bet for a nomination (such as the
noted six men in the previous paragraph) and that it only includes films
scheduled for release during the 2013 eligibility period, With that
said, here are 10 underdog actors for
Ben Foster, Ain't Them Bodies Saints
David Lowery's visually poetic outlaw romance "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" came out of Sundance earlier this year with glowing reviews and hopes that it could end up in this year's awards race. But when it came out this summer, it did so to little buzz and lackluster box office, making it overall an underdog at best as awards season gears up. But if there's any nomination its many fans should surely rally for -- other than Bradford Young's gorgeous cinematography, perhaps -- it's Ben Foster's performance as the police officer than takes Ruth (Rooney Mara) under his wing when her husband (Casey Affleck) is in jail. While Mara and Affleck are also excellent, Foster carves out -- with much less screen time -- a layered, affecting character that sticks with you long after the credits role. The 33 year old actor is also definitely due for some awards love, given his impressive body of work -- particularly "The Messenger" and "3:10 To Yuma" -- has largely gone unnoticed from the awards circuit.
Dane DeHaan, Kill Your Darlings
Ben Foster actually has a few films out this year, including John Krokidas's underrated beat generation take "Kill Your Darlings." But while Foster is reliably great as William S. Burroughs in the film (as are Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg and John Huston as Jack Kerouac), it's Dane DeHaan who steals the show as Lucien Carr. Pulling off a distinct mix of decadent, cool (in a few senses of the word), sexy and dangerous, you can't take your eyes off him. His work was deservedly honored with a Gotham Award nomination last week, and while it's unlikely the Academy will follow suit we'd certainly have no issue if they did. And judging from this performance, it seems likely they will one of these days.
James Franco, Spring Breakers
"Spring Breakers" distributor A24 has already started a clever For Your Consideration campaign for James Franco instantly iconic performance as Alien in Harmony Korine's film. But surely even they know it's a very long shot. His work here is far from up the Academy's alley, even if Franco himself has been previously nominated (and hosted the show itself, though we all know the legacy of that). But there's many a folk -- including this one -- that would have no problem suggesting Alien is Franco's finest creation. The ultimate multi-hyphenate Franco surely offered us a good dozen or two major projects in 2013, but Alien is the crown jewel. Under corn-rows and metal teeth, Franco is an absolute riot in a role that reminds us just how entertaining Franco can be (as did "This Is The End," for that matter, which deserves some consideration of its own). And Oscar nomination or not, it's gonna be Alien we remember 10 years down the line, not Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.