Oscars: Best supporting actor nominees

A look at the best supporting actor nominees for the 84th Academy Awards on 26 February 2012.

Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh

Age: 51

Nominated for: My Week With Marilyn

The character: Sir Laurence Olivier

Oscar record: Four previous nominations - best actor and director for Henry V, as well as a short film nomination for Swan Song and an adapted screenplay nod for Hamlet

The critics said: "As Olivier, Kenneth Branagh relishes playing an even more major actor than he is himself, snapping off lines like 'acting is all about truth, and if you can fake that you'll have a brilliant career", "they wouldn't stand for this kind of nonsense at the Hippodrome at Eastbourne", and "teaching Marilyn to act is like teaching Urdu to a badger" - David Sexton, Evening Standard .

Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill

Age: 28

Nominated for: Moneyball

The character: Baseball number-cruncher Peter Brand

Oscar record: None

The critics said: "A subdued Hill proves himself to be a formidable talent beyond his R-rated comedy motormouth routine" - Alex Zane, the Sun.

Nick Nolte

Nick Nolte in Warrior

Age: 71

Nominated for: Warrior

The character: Paddy Conlon, father of two estranged martial arts fighting brothers

Oscar record: Two previous nominations - for best actor in The Prince of Tides (1991) and Affliction (1998)

The critics said: "Nolte's Paddy Conlon is chasing a dream of a unified family and success in the ring, and listens to audiobook tapes of Moby Dick throughout. Groan-worthy, but the character arc payoff those tapes enable is as heartbreaking and powerful as any this year, and could garner Nolte Oscar attention despite the shortcomings of the film as a whole" - Clinton Hallahan, The Snipe.

Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer

Age: 82

Nominated for: Beginners

The character: Hal, a father who comes out as gay after the death of his wife

Oscar record: One nomination for best supporting actor in The Last Station (2009)

The critics said: "Beginners is immensely moving, funny and involving, the acting beyond reproach, with Christopher Plummer bringing a rare wit, compassion and unsanctimonious grace to the role of Hal" - Philip French, the Observer.

Max von Sydow

Max von Sydow

Age: 82

Nominated for: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The character: The Renter, a mute old man who helps the film's main character Oskar on his quest to find the lock that fits a mystery key in New York City.

Oscar record: A previous nomination for best actor for Pelle the Conqueror (1988)

The critics said: "Max von Sydow has a superb turn as a mute tenant of Oskar's grandmother" - Claudia Puig, USA Today.

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