When fussy Oscar went scouting for best supporting actor candidates from 2012, he made two things clear: Young men need not apply and only past winners were considered.
So the youngest of the five nominees is already mature at 45 -- Philip Seymour Hoffman. The oldest is 78 -- Alan Arkin. The rest are cruising past mid-life -- Christoph Waltz at 56, Tommy Lee Jones at 66 and Robert De Niro at 69. Each now has multiple nominations as best actor or best supporting actor. Each has won at least one Academy Award. De Niro has two.
This is typical. Most years (with exceptions) Oscar likes his support actors to be well-known, respected, rich with experience and often temperamental. Someone as curmudgeonly as Jones -- with more spikes than a prickly pear cactus -- is valued and celebrated. Just like Jack Palance, another curmudgeon who became famous for one-armed pushups on Oscar night.