Corey Stoll to read Hemingway’s letters, primed for a Best Supporting Actor surge

It’s heartening to note as of late that a bit a fire has been lit under the campaign for Corey Stoll’s performance as Ernest Hemingway in Woody’s Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.”

The actor was on hand at the Gothams Sunday night as part of the tribute for David Cronenberg (a shrewd move on Sony Classics’ part to get him in front of the audience — the company is distributing both “Midnight in Paris” and Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method”). The actor nailed down an Independent Spirit Award nomination yesterday for Best Supporting Male (one of many Sony Classics citations honcho Michael Barker was beaming over when I spoke to him on the phone last night). And now, it’s been announced that Stoll will participate in a unique event at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Sunday, December 11.

Lucky for us, Tech Support columnist Gerard Kennedy happens to live in Boston and will be on hand to cover the evening, which will feature a discussion of “The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume I, 1907 – 1922” with the book’s editor, Sandra Spanier, and novelist Ward Just. Stoll will be reading selections from the volume.

Hemingway is far and away my favorite author. I first sparked to him on my first trip to Key West, Florida in 1995, where Hemingway lived for a number of years, writing “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” while he was there. His house on Whitehead Street, just a few blocks from the Southernmost Point monument to the south and Mallory Square (best sunset you’ll ever see) to the north is naturally a bit of a shrine to the man, and taking a gander at his writing studio in the back always gives me chills. I was just there again two weeks ago on my 30th birthday.

There’s a great story I heard while at a bar now called Captain Tony’s Saloon. When Hemingway was there it was called Sloppy Joe’s. Hemingway received a royalty check for $1,000 once and went to a local bank to cash the check. He was dressed like a bit of a bum, Florida casual. And the bank scoffed. So he had to take his business elsewhere. He went into Sloppy Joe’s and the owner, Joe Bruno (who had ties to the mob), knew who Hemingway was. “I’ll cash your check,” he told him. And from that point on, they were two peas in a pod, went fishing together, etc. When they raised the rent on Joe by one dollar, he moved to a new location close by on Duvall Street, where it still stands today. But the Captain Tony’s location feels like a place Hemingway would more likely frequent.

Anyway, it goes without saying Stoll’s performance in Allen’s film put a big smile on my face. It was a stroke of genius on the page (Hemingway’s dialogue styled as if it were his stripped-down prose) and a wonderful embodiment on the screen, one that could find a headwind and land what would at this point be a bit of a surprising Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

It’s a fluid category right now, to say the least. Albert Brooks solidified his “Drive” effort with an NYFCC win yesterday to go along with his Indie Spirit nomination. Christopher Plummer still looks good to go after taking the stage to accept on behalf of the “Beginners” ensemble at the Gothams and also chalking up an Indie Spirit nod of his own.

John Hawkes might have received an uptick in attention after his Spirit nod for his “Martha Marcy May Marlene” performance, though I don’t think John C. Reilly should expect to capitalize on his for “Cedar Rapids.” But those are the names in the actual awards hat right now.

Moving outside of that, back into the prognostication realm we’ve been in all season, Max Von Sydow is left to be seen in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” but could ultimately be a formidable force if early word is correct. Patton Oswalt has what it takes on screen and off, while Brad Pitt’s shared NYFCC honor for Best Actor included his supporting turn in “The Tree of Life.” He’s definitely a possibility.

I think names like Kenneth Branagh (overshadowed by his “My Week with Marilyn” co-star), Armie Hammer (drowned by negative reviews for “J. Edgar”) and George Clooney/Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The Ides of March” having been disavowed by the critics) are falling down the ladder, while names like Nick Nolte (hitting the press rounds again for “Warrior”), Jonah Hill (a potential beneficiary of a “Moneyball” surge) and, indeed, Corey Stoll, are going to be the ones to watch as they claw their way back up it.

I look forward to finally catching up with Stoll myself next week as he’s coming back around on the press circuit as of late. Gerard’s coverage of the Kennedy Library event, meanwhile, should drop some time the week of December 12.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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