J.K. Simmons Q&A: ‘Whiplash’
But then the longtime character actor admits he's truly surprised to be discussed, finally, in Oscar terms: "Given the nature of my career, it's not something I'm accustomed to."
Simmons has overwhelming odds (17/10) among our Experts to win for many reasons.
He gives one of the giant, sledgehammer performances of 2014 as a monstrous music teacher hellbent on driving his student (Miles Teller) to be the best drummer on the planet. It's really such a huge role emotionally and in terms of screen time that it dwarfs most rivals in the supporting race.
And it helps that Simmons portrays a monster. Years ago Oscar voters used to spurn evil roles, but nowadays they embrace villains if they're the kind moviegoers perversely root for. Consider such recent Oscar champs in this category as Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds"), Heath Ledger ("The Dark Knight") and Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men").