Monday, Feb. 16, 2009

Richard Jenkins, The Visitor

You might have expected Clint Eastwood, in Gran Torino, to take the slot reserved for Crusty Old Guy Who Finds Meaning in His Life By Finding Exotic Foreigners In or Near His Place of Residence. But no, it went to Jenkins, a lifelong supporting player who got a rare starring role in this middling indie and invested it with a quiet, dogged humanity. (He's also an adornment and an endearment in the Coen brothers' Burn Without Reading.) Jenkins' nomination may have been an effusion of fellow-feeling from the 2,000-plus actors in the Motion Picture Academy, many of whom are also not famous. For once, a nomination, not the win, really is its own reward. Odds of winning: 40 to 1