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.

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