Well, the short answer is, yes. Or at least very likely.
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Jeff Bridges has built the second half of his career on gruff, rough types and digging deep into the South and Great Plains for some real meat and potatoes roles that have grabbed him Oscar nominations (2010’s True Grit) and a win (2009’s Crazy Heart). With Hell or High Water Bridges hits his nadir of this role with a rich, deeply lived in and pitch-perfect performance and one of the best of his career. The film, the surprising critical hit of the summer (it sits at a huge 99% on Rotten Tomatoes) about a pair of bank-robbing brothers played by Ben Foster and Chris Pine (both excellent) also gives us Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Bridges), a man just on the verge of retirement who loves to tease and cajole his Native American-Mexican partner (a wonderful Gil Birmingham) to toughen him up and make him ‘remember him when he’s gone.’ Bridges’ Hamilton is your traditional no-nonsense officer who always knows the next step of the culprit and has built a successful career on that gut instinct.
But let’s get to the meat and potatoes of why I’m writing this. Jeff Bridges, over the course of his wide-ranging and respected career has earned six Oscar nominations, including a win in Lead, on his 5th nomination, for Crazy Heart. That win was sort of seen as a ‘career’ win and the very next year he got his 6th, for True Grit. That was six years ago. Since then Bridges hit a 1-2-3 dip in quality and box office from his films R.I.P.D, The Giver and Seventh Son, but now he bounces back with the best reviewed film of his career and one showing tremendous indie box office strength. In its first weekend of expanded release (909 theaters) it jumped 38% and grabbed the second highest per screen average of the top 12. This critical and box office success has shot Bridges into the Best Supporting Actor Oscar conversation with a bullet. He has started to creep up the Gold Rush Gang’s Best Supporting Actor chart and in a year where this category is so open it shouldn’t be hard for CBS Films and Lionsgate to get Bridges to the Dolby next February.
The Supporting Actor category is very friendly to veterans as well as previous nominees and winners (2013’s nominees were entirely comprised of previous winners). A Screen Actors Guild nomination seems like an easy get for Bridges. The summer release date ensures that CBS Films and Lionsgate can get screeners out in time (and we all know how important that is at SAG) and as a multi-Golden Globe nominee (and winner for Crazy Heart) that group should easily for him as well. With a UK release date of September 9th and a Brit director at the helm of Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie) you can add to that a very good chance at BAFTA nom as well (he two of those). When you add those together, most of the time you get a recipe for Oscar. Come hell or high water, it should happen for Jeff Bridges once again.