Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Christoph Waltz, who plays a ruthless (but cultured) Nazi colonel in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, has been winning just about every best supporting actor award in sight in the United States; that in addition to his best actor prize at Cannes earlier this year. Though hardly a household name in the US, Waltz seems all but unbeatable come Awards Season Part II early next year thanks to Basterds' success.
Waltz's closest competitors among US critics have been Christian McKay, who plays Orson Welles in Richard Linklater's little-seen Me and Orson Welles, and Woody Harrelson for his army captain in Oren Moverman's The Messenger. But since McKay isn't in the running for the SAG Awards — perhaps a lack of M&OW screeners made available to SAG's 2,000+ nominating committee? — and Harrelson's role is considerably less showy than Waltz's, I'd say that the Vienna-born actor's closest SAG Award competitor is another Christoph(er): Christopher Plummer, who plays a very bearded and very dogmatic Leo Tolstoy in Michael Hoffman's The Last Station. If Plummer wins, and that's not impossible, it'll be less for his dying Tolstoy than for his having survived both the von Trapp family and more bad movies than just about any actor since the first nickelodeons.
Matt Damon (for his rugby player in Invictus) will probably just watch from the sidelines, but Stanley Tucci could be an upset winner if voters think of him not only in terms of The Lovely Bones, but also in terms of Julie & Julia, The Devil Wears Prada, Big Night, etc. etc. — all the way to Prizzi's Honor back in 1985.
Having said all that, I'm still betting on Christoph Waltz.
The SAG Awards will be presented on Jan. 23, 2010.
Photo: François Duhamel / The Weinstein Co.