Dave Karger
February 05, 2009 AT 08:00 PM EST

Of all the major-category Oscar nominees I missed in my predictions this year, the one the most of you called was Richard Jenkins. I saw The Visitor at its New York premiere last April, and even at the party, the smart people at Overture Films were bending my ear about his award chances. And I have to say I was skeptical. I loved the movie, but I just didn’t think a performance as understated as his would go the distance, particularly coming out so early in the year. When Jenkins made the shortlists at the Broadcast Critics and SAG Awards, I thought, “What a nice tribute. Too bad Clint Eastwood’s going to steal his Oscar slot.”

Well, even though I hate being wrong, I’m so glad I was in this case. Along with Melissa Leo, Jenkins seems to be one of the nominees most people are rooting for this year. Can he overtake front-runners like Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke? Probably not, but it’s great to see someone campaign with total class and appreciation. Jenkins’ representatives have forced him (and his lovely wife, Sharon) to talk to me several times over the last few months—on red carpets, during lunches, and at award ceremonies. And since Six Feet Under remains my favorite television drama of all time, it’s been my absolute pleasure to bump into him every few weeks. (Though I’m sure Jenkins probably wished he were back home in Providence.) Here’s one of our encounters, at the Gotham Awards.

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