Yorgos Lanthimos‘ “Poor Things” just won the Golden Lion at Venice and is sure to be a major Oscar contender. “Poor Things” tells the tale of a young woman (Emma Stone) brought back to life by an unorthodox scientist (Willem Dafoe) who is then pursued by a millionaire (Mark Ruffalo). Ruffalo is earning his share of rave reviews for the film.
Maureen Lee Lenker (EW) observed: “Ruffalo appears to be having the time of his life, chewing the scenery with a manic glee. He’s built a career playing solid, decent men, and what fun it is to watch him play a reprobate cad whose chief concern is who he might be sticking his dick into next. Ruffalo plays Duncan as a puffed-up vainglorious peacock, a man whose ego is the size of an entire continent. Ruffalo adopts a European accent that feels less specific to any one region than exceptional in its deliberate pretentiousness.”
Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian) noted: “This wicked fellow is one Duncan Wedderburn – an outrageously funny performance from Mark Ruffalo, whose entire face is transformed into fleshy naughtiness by adding a mustache and, in one scene, a straw boater.”
Mark Johnson (Awards Daily) proclaimed: “Mark Ruffalo brings a humorous touch as the scoundrel who takes advantage of Bella during her early years, providing her with an education in all matters sexual. It’s the best performance of Ruffalo’s career.”
Ruffalo is in the hunt for Best Supporting Actor alongside co-star Dafoe, while the movie is a top pick for Best Picture. This would mark the third time that Ruffalo has vied in Best Supporting Actor for an appearance in a Best Picture nominee. Back in 2011 he was nominated for “The Kids Are All Right,” which also landed a Best Picture nomination. Ruffalo lost that race to Christian Bale for “The Fighter” while “The King’s Speech” won Best Picture that year.
This double play happened again in 2016 when Ruffalo was nominated for “Spotlight.” He lost that award to Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies” but, this time, his film, “Spotlight,” won Best Picture. Ruffalo was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2015 for “Foxcatcher,” a film that garnered five Oscar bids and just missed out on a Best Picture nomination.
So, with “Poor Things,” Ruffalo is looking for his third Best Supporting Actor bid for a Best Picture nominee and his fourth Best Supporting Actor bid overall. What are the chances of that happening?
We predict that “Poor Thing” will indeed be nominated for Best Picture, alongside “Anatomy of a Fall,” “The Zone of Interest,” “Maestro,” “The Holdovers,” “The Color Purple,” “Barbie,” “Past Lives,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and “Oppenheimer.” But how about Best Supporting Actor? Well, there’s good news there, too. Ruffalo has recently moved up in our odds thanks to those positive reviews. As such, he now sits in fourth spot in our Best Supporting Actor odds chart, just ahead of John Magaro (“Past Lives”). Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”), Ryan Gosling (“Barbie”), and Robert De Niro (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) are ahead of him.
His performance is of the type of that is often nominated in Best Supporting Actor, too: colorful, playful, and more “out there.” Think of past nominees such as Jonah Hill for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Edward Norton for “Birdman,” Sam Rockwell for “Vice,” and last year’s winner Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”).
Don’t worry about Ruffalo and Dafoe potentially competing with one another for a nomination — this category often nominates multiple actors from the same film. We have had two actors from the same film nominated for Best Supporting Actor in each of the last four years. In 2020, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci were nominated for “The Irishman.” In 2021, Daniel Kaluuya won for “Judas and the Black Messiah” while his co-star, LaKeith Stanfield, was also nominated. In 2022, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Jesse Plemons were nominated for “The Power of the Dog.” And, last year, Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan were nominated for “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
Ruffalo and Dafoe could join that crowd this year and, if they did, they would both match the record for most Best Supporting Actor nominations of all time, which is currently held by seven actors including Jack Nicholson, Jeff Bridges, and Pacino.
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