2015 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Winner: J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash"

This is another category that’s winner is a no brainer. Ever since “Whiplash” burst onto the scene at last year’s Sundance Film Festival it has been the buzz of awards observers with Simmons’ performance as a relentless and brutal music teacher, earning early raves. His winning momentum has only gotten stronger throughout the year.

Why He Will Win | When you think of an outstanding supporting actor, the top thing that comes to mind is a talent who makes the surrounding cast better and Simmons always manages to do that. As a consistent presence in movies and television; Simmons has proved to be a rare breed of thespian. So for him to get this kind of well-earned acknowledgment is a feel good moment for those who’ve been so thoroughly entertained by his work through the years.

About the Other Nominees | Robert Duvall’s role as the ornery title character in “The Judge” was a grand reminder that Duvall is one of cinema’s finest treasures. While the movie received a mixed reception among critics, his performance was a noted highlight. Duvall’s awards run is heavily reminiscent of Nick Nolte’s in 2011 for “Warrior” as both were the dark horses in their respective races and Duvall is predicted to experience the same results. In an interesting parallel, both actors' nominated films saw them play fathers brought back together with their estranged sons to pursue a shared goal as they sort through their troubled past. 

Ethan Hawke earned his fourth Oscar nomination (his third in the acting department) for his role as an ordinary dad to an ordinary son in “Boyhood”. Having earned a previous nomination for the hilarious comedy “The Kids Are Alright”, Mark Ruffalo returns to the Oscars with his nod for the gritty drama “Foxcatcher”, in which he plays doomed wrestler David Shultz. Playing off an apparent parody of his Hollywood persona in “Birdman”, Edward Norton earned his third Oscar nomination.

Category Factoids | Three of the five nominees have previously starred in comic book movies. Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo have both starred as Bruce Banner/The Hulk. While J.K. Simmons rose to pop culture prominence with his pitch perfect casting as Peter Parker’s boss J. Jonah Jameson in the original “Spider-Man” franchise.

The Toughest Loss | As aggravated as movie fans have been over Leonardo DiCaprio’s repeated snubs, Edward Norton’s lack of appreciation ranks right up there. One of the most mercurial actors to grace the screen, Norton has proven to be spellbinding no matter the acting challenge. While his "Birdman" nod isn’t likely to land him the elusive golden statue, it’s a step in the right direction.