Oscar poll: Could Bruce Dern have beaten Jared Leto in Supporting Actor?

Let’s play fantasy Oscar voter for a moment, shall we?

If the academy had nominated Bruce Dern (“Nebraska“) for Best Supporting Actor instead of in lead, could the Hollywood legend have beaten frontrunner Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club“)? I posed this question in Gold Derby’s Oscar forum, and you can read many of our posters’ colorful responses below.

As it stands now, Dern has lowly 50/1 odds to win Best Actor according to Gold Derby’s Experts, Editors and Users. That’s only good enough for fourth place in the crazily-competitive line-up, leaving this veteran actor alone and out in the cold much like his grumpy character in “Nebraska.”

Comparatively, over in the Best Supporting Actor race, Leto is expected to take home that trophy in a cakewalk with first-place odds of 1/10 thanks, in part, to his relatively weak competition.

Dern’s been hard at work in Hollywood for decades, yet he’s only contended once before — a 1978 supporting bid for “Coming Home” that he lost to Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”). Months ago, many pundits thought this was the year Dern would finally hear his name called, but then along came Matthew McConaughey. And Leonardo DiCaprio. And Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Those three Best Actor nominees have shared much of the awards buzz this Oscar season thanks to their wins at all of the most recent televised kudos. Dern’s earlier “Nebraska” victories at the National Board of Review and Cannes filmfest were so long ago, does anybody even remember them?

A simple category shift from lead to supporting could have given Dern much better odds at winning, but the victory would have come down in the less-grandiose category. What’s a guy to do?!

Below, some excerpts from our forum posters who agree that Dern could have overtaken Leto if those two went head-to-head in the Best Supporting Actor race:

Halo_Insider: I’d say so. Voters clearly loved “Nebraska,” and it would have given them the chance to honor a veteran actor giving a tour-de-force performance.That said, I’m glad he didn’t. Good on him for sticking to his guns and disproving all the Oscar pundits who thought he couldn’t get in unless he deferred, even after the Cannes win.

MadsenMelo: Certainly, especially since this is the category where veterans have history.

nkb325: It would have been close, he wouldn’t have sweeped, but I do think he would have won.

Tyler The Awesome Guy: I think it could happen. But Dern was totally the lead in Nebraska. Left, right and centre.

Espeon: Yes, because Supporting is where the academy loves to honour veterans like Christopher Plummer, James Coburn, Sean Connery, etc.

DominicCobb: Yes, this is the place where the Academy honors veterans… Supporting Actor is a much weaker field, and I think Leto’s been sweeping simply because he has the least divisive performance of the bunch. Dern’d take Supporting, and McConaughey would easily take lead with no one questioning if “Dallas Buyers Club” deserves two acting awards.

Macbeth: If he did succumb to disgusting category fraud, he would have been a bona fide winner all season long (think of a Christopher Plummer sweep), and it would have been fantastic to see him finally win an Oscar as opposed to Jared Leto, who is good, but seems to feel like an outsider to the film industry.

endaugust: Dern got his wish. He said that he’d rather be nominated in the Best Actor category without winning, than winning in the Best Supporting Actor category.

However, a few other forum posters weren’t drinking the same kool-aid as everyone else:

thedemonhog: No? Dern is subdued; Leto dresses up.

ETPhoneHome: It might have been close, but Leto would still be the favourite.

montana82: I’ll never get this Bruce Dern supporting thing. He was a lead.

That’s what our forum posters had to say, now give us YOUR take. Vote in our poll below, then make your predictions for Best Supporting Actor using our easy drag-and-drop menu.

11 thoughts on “Oscar poll: Could Bruce Dern have beaten Jared Leto in Supporting Actor?

  1. I think this is degrading topic, and this has been debated to death. Dern has publicly stated its not about the win, it was about getting the nomination, and he wanted to get a Lead nomination as opposed to a win in the Supporting category.

  2. Bruce Dern was the star of the film. Therefore he was meant to be nominated as Best Actor (leading). Will Forte, though, would’ve been a great Best Supporting Actor nominee. He was a much more worthy nominee than Bradley Cooper for “American Hustle.”

  3. this seems like a ridiculous question, considering dern is clearly the lead in nebraska. no ifs ands or buts about it. if they campaigned him for supporting, the nominating committee most likely would have overruled and nominated him for lead anyway, as they did with kate winslet in the reader.

  4. Marcus, I find it interesting that there wasn’t a “yes, but it’s better he remained in the lead category where he belonged” option in the poll. This talk of Dern as a Supporting player really should have stopped months ago.

  5. Thank you all for validating my thoughts on this, thought I was being cranky, but I see I am not alone. There are so many more interesting questions to ask this week, let’s look at other categories like Documentary Feature, which is amazing. Daniel did a great interview with Joshua Oppenheimer. This was a discussion for post Cannes not a week before the Oscars

  6. Bruce Dern gives the best performance in years, but it’s nevertheless a supporting role compared to DiCaprio, Ejiofor, and McConaughey who constitute 95% of their film.

  7. Will Forte owned that movie and should be nominated for Best Actor. Bruce Dern is Supporting and wont win because of his sheer vanity on insisting he be placed in Lead when he could have and should have been placed in Supporting where he would have won every award hands down since it would have doubled as lifetime achievement.

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