There were some very competitive categories at the Academy Awards this year. And then there was Best Supporting Actor.

Pretty much from the very start of awards season, the odds-on favorite to win Best Supporting Actor for 2017 was Sam Rockwell for his powerful performance as racist small-town cop Jason Dixon in Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriAnd tonight. Sometimes the odds-on favorite is the odds-on favorite for a reason. After snagging pretty much every significant preliminary award for his category, Rockwell did win the Oscar as well.

It was Rockwell’s first Academy Award, and, somewhat surprisingly, his first nomination. To take home the prize he had to beat Willem Dafoe from The Florida Project, Richard Jenkins from The Shape of Water, Christopher Plummer from All the Money in the World, and his Three Billboards co-star Woody Harrelson.

For Rockwell, it elevates one of our best actors to the upper echelon of his profession. Frankly, it’s hard to believe he’d never been nominated for something before. (How Gentlemen Broncos went overlooked, I shall never know.) Three Billboards has been a controversial movie among some audiences but I haven’t heard anyone say anything negative about Rockwell. If anything, his incredible skill at playing this awful man is part of why the film hits people in such an intense way.

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