Best Supporting Actor

2003 wins: National Society of Film Critics

Oscar pedigree: Won: “The Deer Hunter” (1978)

Walken on his conning abilities: “I’ve never written any bad checks and I’ve never had a moving violation. I try to be meticulous. I’m interested in sticking around. I don’t even get on horses.”

What we said: “In a wonderful performance, Walken summons up his character’s modest roots, romantic spirit, caring fatherly instincts and dashed hopes with exceptional economy of means.” — Todd McCarthy (Dec. 13)

What they said: “The chemistry between Mr. (Leonardo) DiCaprio and Mr. Walken (giving one of his strongest, most sympathetic screen performances) is so charged the two actors actually seem to share the same reptilian genes.” — Stephen Holden, New York Times

This could be the night: After playing so many heavies, Acad might prefer to honor Walken for a breezier, more human role.

Then comes the rub: The lighter nature of the pic might hurt his chances.

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