Past precedents in this category: Walter Brennan is the most awarded supporting actor, with three wins. The most nominated supporting actor is a four-way tie between Brennan, Claude Rains, Jack Nicholson and Arthur Kennedy, with four nominations each.
This year's nominees are:
- Alan Arkin - Argo
- Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook
- Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
- Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
- Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained
Alan Arkin has been nominated for an Oscar four times now, and actually won Best Supporting Actor in 2006 for Little Miss Sunshine. That in mind, I can't see Academy voters giving him another award only seven years later - unless his performance is truly sensational.
Robert De Niro, on the other hand, hasn't won an Academy Award since 1980. This is his seventh Oscar nomination. He won for The Godfather Part II and Raging Bull, and scored nominations for Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter and Cape Fear. I think he's got a very good chance of winning his third Oscar next month, since this is the first chance voters have had to honour him in years.
To my mind Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of the USA's top five male actors working today. He's damn-near faultless in every role he plays. He received Best Actor in 2005 for Capote, and was nominated Best Supporting Actor for Charlie Wilson's War and Doubt. I don't think he's likely to win here - he's won an Oscar before and I'm not seeing any buzz for The Master at all.
Tommy Lee Jones previously won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1993 for The Fugitive, and received additional nominations for JFK and In the Valley of Elah. I can see him winning his second Oscar here - it's a popular performance in a worthy film, and it's been 20 years since they last honoured him.
Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor in 2009 for Inglourious Basterds, and he's nominated again here - once again for a performance in a Quentin Tarantino film. I can't see the Academy honouring him twice for two similarly showy performances in two Tarantino movies.
My pick: I wouldn't be surprised to see Tommy Lee Jones win, but I think De Niro has the edge.