Meet Oscar's supporting-actor nominees
Posted January 10, 2013
Tommy Lee Jones, 66, in Lincoln
His role: Congressional leader Thaddeus Stevens, a steadfast abolitionist who helped push through the 13th Amendment.
Oscar history: Won supporting actor as the persistent marshal in 1993's The Fugitive; nominated for supporting actor as suspected assassination conspirator Clay Shaw in 1991's JFK and lead actor as a grieving father of a soldier in 2007's In the Valley of Elah.
Why he might win: Lee's passionate performance propels the backstage politics of Lincoln and is a standout in a stellar ensemble cast.
Why he might lose: Only if the academy suddenly decides to flip-flop on its embrace of Lincoln.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, 45, in The Master
His role: The charismatic Lancaster Dodd, an Ike-era leader of a philosophical movement akin to Scientology.
Oscar history: Won best actor with his pitch-perfect take on the author of In Cold Blood in 2005's Capote; nominated for supporting actor as a rogue CIA agent in 2007's Charlie Wilson's War and as a priest suspected of sexually abusing children in 2008's Doubt.
Why he might win: As a glorified snake-oil salesman, one of filmdom's most formidable chameleons sings, preaches, weeps and shouts - and he isn't even in Les Miserables.
Why he might lose: The Master was a bit less masterful than he was.
Robert De Niro, 69, in Silver Linings Playbook
His role: The tough-yet-tender Pat Sr., an OCD sports fan and bookie whose superstitious tendencies push his family to the limit.
Oscar history: Won supporting actor as a budding Mafia don in 1974's The Godfather Part II and best actor as boxer Jake LaMotta in 1980's Raging Bull; nominated for best actor in 1976's Taxi Driver, 1978's The Deerhunter, 1990's Awakenings and 1991's Cape Fear.
Why he might win: It has been 21 years since De Niro has been up for an Oscar - and there is a reason for that. They could give him No. 3 for doing a comedy that had no one named Focker in it.
Why he might lose: It isn't as if the Academy has been ignoring him all these years.
Alan Arkin, 78, in Argo
His role: Over-the-hill Hollywood producer Lester Siegel, who gladly helps the CIA establish the pretense of a sham sci-fi flick as the cover for a rescue attempt in Iran.
Oscar history: Won supporting actor as a cranky grandfather and heroin abuser in 2006's Little Miss Sunshine; nominated for best actor as a Soviet sub commander run aground in a small American town in 1966's The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming and as a deaf-mute in 1968's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.
Why he might win: The movie biz likes to laugh at itself, and without Arkin's well-delivered serving of Tinseltown cynicism - including the best line in the film - Argo would simply be a well-made political thriller.
Why he might lose: He is up against one too many real-life Tinseltown titans.
Christoph Waltz, 56, in Django Unchained
His role: Dr. King Schultz, a German bounty hunter in the pre-Civil War South who has an ingratiating manner and a deadly aim.
Oscar history: Won supporting actor as nasty Nazi Hans Landa in 2009's Inglourious Basterds.
Why he might win: In a film filled with flashy performances, Waltz still waltzes away with every scene he is in.
Why he might lose: He has done this sort of silver-tongued Teutonic devil before.
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