The Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the 2000s went to performances across the moral spectrum. Javier Bardem, Christoph Waltz and the late Heath Ledger all delivered winking devil performances, Jim Broadbent, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin were all fan favorite scene-stealers, while Benicio del Toro, Chris Cooper, Tim Robbins and George Clooney were somewhere in that juicy gray area.
The quality of these Oscar winning performances has been up for debate for years, but which is your favorite Best Supporting Actor of the 2000s? Look back on their performances and vote in our poll below.
Benicio del Toro, “Traffic” (2000) — Benicio del Toro stood out among the sprawling ensemble of “Traffic,” playing troubled cop Javier Rodriguez. Del Toro won all the precursors leading up to Oscar night, and remains the only actor who has won an Oscar for an entirely Spanish-speaking role. He was nominated again for “21 Grams” (2003).
Jim Broadbent, “Iris” (2001) — Jim Broadbent’s gentle performance as John Bayley, devoted husband to Iris Murdoch (Judi Dench) earned him an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Despite decades of strong work, this remains Broadbent’s only Oscar nomination.
Chris Cooper, “Adaptation” (2002) — Chris Cooper mirrored Broadbent’s situation exactly, winning the Oscar and Golden Globe for playing orchid thief John Laroche in “Adaptation” And much like Broadbent, Cooper has not been nominated again by the Academy.
Tim Robbins, “Mystic River” (2003) — Tim Robbins won an Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG Award for his morally ambiguous character of Dave Boyle in “Mystic River,” who is sexually abused as a child and grows up to become the prime suspect in his friend’s daughter’s murder. He was previously nominated for directing “Dead Man Walking” (1995).
Morgan Freeman, “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) — Morgan Freeman finally won his Oscar for playing wise retired boxer Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris in “Million Dollar Baby.” Freeman was previously nominated for “Street Smart” (1987), “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989) and “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994), earning another nomination after his win for “Invictus” (2009).
George Clooney, “Syriana” (2005) — George Clooney, primarily a leading man, won in the supporting category for his “deglammed” role as CIA operative Bob Barnes in “Syriana.” He also won an Oscar for producing “Argo,” and has been nominated for “Michael Clayton” (2007), “Up in the Air” (2009) and “The Descendants” (2011), plus writing and directing noms for “Good Night, and Good Luck” (2005), and an additional writing nod for “The Ides of March.”
Alan Arkin, “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006) — Alan Arkin won his Oscar after a long career, for his performance as scene-stealing grandpa Edwin Hoover in “Little Miss Sunshine.” Arkin was nominated many years ago for “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming” (1966) and “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” (1968), and later another nomination for “Argo” (2012).
Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men” (2007) — Javier Bardem swept award season with his chilling role as serial killer Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men.” He was previously nominated for his lead roles in “Before Night Falls” and later for “Biutiful.”
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight” (2008) — Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” has become iconic in movie history, and he also swept the precursors leading up to the Oscars. Previously nominated for “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), Ledger is one of only two actors to win a competitive Oscar posthumously.
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) — Christoph Waltz was the third actor in a row to sweep the Supporting Actor race, for his charismatic performance as Nazi Col. Hans Landa in “Inglourious Basterds.” He won Best Supporting Actor again just three years later for another Quentin Tarantino film, “Django Unchained.”
Be sure to check out how our experts rank Oscar contenders in this and the other top races. Use the drop-down menus at the top of each page to see the other categories. Then take a look at the most up-to-date odds before you make make your Oscar nomination predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.