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Best Supporting Actor is always one of the funnest categories at the Academy Awards. It's where the greatest unsung character actors finally get the recognition they deserve, and it's always a delight to revisit the fantastic performances through the collection of nominees. This year was no exception, as Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Plummer, and Richard Jenkins all put on spectacular turns in 2017 - but it was Sam Rockwell who walked away with the Oscar, and it's impressively well-deserved after 29 years of brilliant work.
Facing stiff competition, Sam Rockwell triumphed this evening thanks to his amazing work in Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, playing a somewhat controversial role. In the movie, the actor plays Dixon: a lazy, dumb, ignorant cop with a racist past who undergoes some serious change while dealing with Frances McDormand's Mildred Pierce - a mother who wants justice for her raped and murdered daughter. Rockwell is given a tremendous arc to play out in the film, one that you never expect from where the role starts, but it's honestly amazing to see him totally convince the audience to view Dixon in a totally different light. It's absolutely an Academy Award-winning turn, though it's worth mentioning that Rockwell has been killing it for years now.
With the exception of bigger titles like Iron Man 2, Charlie's Angels, and A Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Sam Rockwell has mostly stuck to smaller movies over the course of his career, but has consistently been a scene-stealing star in those projects. His breakout was arguably as the psychotic killer Wild Bill' Wharton is Frank Darabont's The Green Mile, but that very same year he was cracking-up a growing cult audience with his part as the perpetually-terrified Guy Fleegman in Galaxy Quest. Given a lead role for the first time, he's remarkable as game show host/spy/dancing fool Chuck Barris in George Clooney's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind; and one year later he was back killing it in the supporting position opposite Nicolas Cage in Ridley Scott's Matchstick Men. And while they didn't really make any money, both Clark Gregg's Choke and Duncan Jones' Moon prove that he really can play the lead actor game.
Also deserving special mention is Seven Psychopaths - which was the project that brought him together with Martin McDonagh for the first time. Playing an equally fantastic part, Rockwell is Billy - the best friend of Colin Farrell's alcoholic screenwriter character, Martin, who truly will go above and beyond and do anything to try and help his pal finish his script. It's a movie that proved that there was greatness in the collaboration between Rockwell and McDonagh, and tonight we saw it earn Hollywood's highest honor.
Over the years, Sam Rockwell has shown himself to be both an immensely talented performer, and a likable human being, so tonight's win at the Academy Awards is absolutely worth celebrating. And if you haven't seen his turn in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri yet, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the Blu-ray, which is currently on sale.