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Watch out for Ben Foster in Best Supporting Actor for “Leave No Trace”

I was going to wait until tomorrow to discuss this, but I didn’t want to make the look at the Best Supporting Actor category all about one person. That’s just not fair. So, today we consider this a Supporting Actor tease of sorts. The reason? Yesterday, Bleeker Street announced their category placements, and Ben Foster is going Supporting, as opposed to Lead. Now, Foster has gone from a possible long shot in Best Actor to arguably a likely nominee in Best Supporting Actor. That’s part of what we’ll be discussing today, with his new placement seen tomorrow in the big Supporting Actor piece…

As a reminder, the movie is a character study of the highest order. Bleeker Street Media put out this plot synopsis: “Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), have lived off the grid for years in the forests of Portland, Oregon. When their idyllic life is shattered, both are put into social services. After clashing with their new surroundings, Will and Tom set off on a harrowing journey back to their wild homeland. The film is directed by Debra Granik from a script adapted by Granik and Anne Rosellini.” Foster and McKenzie make this a two hander, though Dale Dickey does co-star. Granik and Rosellini make this about their situation, never judging them. It’s truly beautiful work, especially in concert with Michael McDonough’s cinematography.

To reiterate my thoughts on the flick…I loved it. There’s so much to like about this film. It’s wonderful to watch unfold, as we learn bits and pieces about Foster’s character Will. The way the movie shows but never tells is prefect. Foster is amazing in the part, while McKenzie showcases that she’s a newcomer to watch out for. Of course, we already knew that Granik was a top tier talent, so this is just more evidence of that fact. Especially with how the film chooses to end, this is a different kind of work. For my money, it’s the sort of thing we should see more of, but sadly don’t get.

So, with Foster going Supporting, he stands poised to potentially finally crack the lineup. A nod would be incredibly well deserved, that goes without saying. Right now, you have to see him near the top five, if not already in it. The lack of a ton of compelling contenders in the category, mixed with the quality of the performance, makes it a highly realistic possibility. Hell, you could call it a probability. Voters will need to see the film, but if they do, I think he may end up in. The movie still has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, for what it’s worth too.

Once again, this is how I would rank Foster’s filmography to date:

10. 3:10 to Yuma
9. Hostiles
8. Rampart
7. Kill Your Darlings
6. Alpha Dog
5. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
4. Birds of America
3. Leave No Trace
2. The Messenger
1. Hell or High Water

Honorable Mention: Lone Survivor and The Program

Time will ultimately tell if this nom happens or not for Foster at the end of the year. For sure, he deserves it. To be fair, Leave No Trace is one of the smaller contenders in 2018, but it’s not too small to be recognized when all is said and done. It just needs to be seen and appreciated by voters within the Academy. The improbably Actor campaign for Foster now becomes a probable one in Supporting Actor. Sit tight to find out how this goes, but with a solid little bit of precursor love, Foster will wind up in the final five, mark my words…

Stay tuned to see if Foster gets a Best Supporting Actor nomination this year for Leave No Trace!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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