Past Oscar champ Benicio Del Toro could well pull off a surprise in this year's Best Supporting Actor race. He is a strong contender for his riveting portrayal of a man obsessed with revenge in “Sicario.” The film is big hit with both critics and audiences and there is talk of a sequel featuring his character. And if he lands a nomination, Oscar history gives him an excellent chance of winning this award for a second time.
Del Toro has competed in this category twice before. He won for “Traffic" in 2000 and was nominated for “21 Grams” (2003). He lost that race to Tim Robbins who was overdue for Oscar recognition and benefitted from the Best Picture momentum behind “Mystic River.”
In "Traffic," the actor played a Mexican cop entangled in the perilous drug war. Fifteen years later, he’s portraying a man of mystery taking part in a sting operation against the drug cartels on the US/Mexican border. As Oscar voters loved him in “Traffic,” they may fall for him in “Sicario” as well.
He was singled out by many critics for this performance.
Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) noted that "Del Toro won best supporting actor for “Traffic” and it was a well-deserved honor, but I admire his work in “Sicario” even more. It’s maybe the most memorable turn of its kind since Javier Bardem’s work in “No Country For Old Men.”
And Scott Foundas (Variety) observed, “as the film hurtles towards its climactic abyss, it is Del Toro who holds us rapt with a nearly silent performance that is the very embodiment of character through action.”
The academy often rewards performers with more than one award over their career. There have been seven repeat winners of Best Supporting Actor starting with the very first champ Walter Brennan, who holds the record in this category with three wins [“Come and Get It” (1936); “Kentucky” (1938); “The Westerner” (1940)].
The six fellows with Best Supporting Actor bookends are:
Anthony Quinn: “Viva Zapata!” (1952) and “Lust for Life” (1956);
Peter Ustinov:“Spartacus” (1960) and “Topkapi” (1964);
Melvyn Douglas: “Hud” (1963) and “Being There” (1979);
Jason Robards:“All the President’s Men” (1976) and “Julia” (1977);
Michael Caine: “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986) and “The Cider House Rules” (1999); and
Christoph Waltz: “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) and “Django Unchained” (2012).
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Photo Credit: Lionsgate