J K Simmons Best Supporting Actor…Really?

J K Simmons publicity shot

It is trending right now on Facebook, “J K Simmons wins Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Whiplash.” Really? I watched that film, loved it, and when that time came around for all the critics to vote, I chose Simmons for the Best Actor award. A long discussion ensued where I explained my rationale for picking that category and initially the head of the Nevada Film Critic’s Society let me keep old J K there for the gong of BA instead of BSA.

My reasoning for popping his portrayal of Fletcher, the cruel, manipulative and driven music instructor for the top gong was simple. Without this manic and over-the-top sadist there would have been no film. In my mind, supporting actors are ones whose character’s may be quite important to the plot, but, if their roles end up on the cutting room floor, the film will still progress quite nicely, thank you very much.

With no Simmons, aka Fletcher, there was no film. Miles Teller as Andrew, may have been the studio’s choice to win Best Actor, but again, without Fletcher, the wanna-be drummer had no one to respond to.  It is obvious that the studio wanted both its actors to get a gong so Simmons was pushed into the lesser category. However, the instructor was the driving force here, not the socially inept boy who practices till his hands bleed.

I do believe that J K Simmons really deserves  the Best Actor gong for his performance in Whiplash. Best Supporting Actor does not really fit what he did with that role. Sitting in the cinema and watching the film, every single time the man showed up on screen my blood pressure rose and my heartbeat doubled.

His Fletcher was so overwhelming and brutal that he reached out into the audience and intimidated me. Even in the safety of my own seat, surrounded by other reviewers whom I count as friends, Simmons make me so uncomfortable that I was tempted to watch scenes with slightly averted eyes, through fingers.

In the film, both individuals are equally driven. Both want perfection and the two will do what ever it takes to achieve their goal. By the end of the film, I was exhausted and so tense that a cramp shot through my right leg. And as the final credits rolled, we all looked at one another in awe.

This film, with no real violence, no romance (to speak of) and no sex, had held us spellbound for the entire length of the movie. Despite the fact that neither of the two main protagonists were likable and hard to connect with, I cared what happened to both of them.

In the last scene of the film, and there is a twist oh yes, my mouth dropped open in amazement. I will not say why, but suffice to say, it was magic. Subtle and simple and marvelous. J K Simmons should have gotten the Best Actor for Whiplash and not Best Supporting Actor because in my mind he really sold the film and his character. I do know that I was not the only critic who believed that the man should have been placed in the higher category, but despite my disappointment at his “demotion” I will still say congratulations matey! You earned it.

22 February 2015