Plummer will compete for the prize at the 84th Academy Awards against fellow nominees Kenneth Branagh ("My Week With Marilyn"), Jonah Hill ("Moneyball"), Nick Nolte ("Warrior"), and Max von Sydow ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close").
It's Plummer who's considered the favorite to win.
The 82-year-old Canadian-born actor, who starred as Capt. Von Trapp in the 1965 best picture winner “The Sound of Music,” earns his second supporting actor Oscar nomination for his turn as widower Hal Fields in "Beginners." Plummer received his first Oscar nomination in this same category two years ago for playing Leo Tolstoy in “The Last Station.” He's already won the Golden Globe and the Critics' Choice Movie Award and several critics' honors including from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Plummer is also in contention for BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild and Independent Spirit awards.
Kenneth Branagh appears in the supporting actor category for the first time for his portrayal of Laurence Olivier in the comedy-drama about the troubled production of the Marilyn Monroe film “The Prince and the Showgirl.” It's an interesting twist of fate. Ever since he earned a lead actor and director Oscar nomination for his 1989 Shakespearean epic “Henry V,” the 51-year-old Branagh has been compared to Laurence Olivier because the late actor-director received accolades for his version of the play. Branagh has been nominated for a Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Movie Award for his turn in "My Week With Marilyn," and is in contention for the BAFTA and SAG awards.
Hill is also a first-time nominee. Primarily known for his R-rated comedies such as “Knocked Up” and “Superbad,” the 28-year-old proved he could hold his own opposite Brad Pitt in the baseball-themed drama, earning a supporting actor Oscar nomination as Peter Brand, the numbers-savvy assistant general manager of the Oakland As. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance and is in contention for a SAG prize.
As Paddy Conlon, an alcoholic ex-pugilist, the raspy-voiced 70-year-old Nick Nolte earns a supporting actor Oscar nomination. Nolte was previously in the Oscar circle for lead actor for 1991’s “The Prince of Tides” and 1998’s “Affliction.” Nolte was nominated for a Critics' Choice Movie Award and is up for a SAG Award.
And finally, veteran Swedish actor Von Sydow, who collaborated with Ingmar Bergman on classic dramas such as “The Seventh Seal,” earns his second Oscar nomination — this one in the supporting actor category — as the Renter, an unnamed character who doesn’t speak but offers support to the young male lead. Von Sydow, 82, was nominated for a lead actor Academy Award 23 years ago for “Pelle the Conqueror.”
-- Susan King
Photo: Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor in "Beginners." Credit: Focus Features