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Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Supporting Actor contenders

Liam Neeson 600x300

Well folks, here we go again, as you might have guessed. It’s time for another category to get a somewhat in depth look at what/who its top contenders might be. I’ve gone over what this is a number of times, but in case you’re new to it all, here it is in short: it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions at this point in the year in order to see what folks like myself think will happen six or so months from now, but it’s a whole other thing entirely to actually know something about what will be in contention. To help out in that regard, I’m once again running down some of the major contenders in each Oscar category in order to prep you all for the season to come. Basically, the format will have me saying a few words about what/who I feel are the top tier contenders right now in said categories, along with a longer list afterwards of many of the other hopefuls that the Academy might take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet that you can use as you see fit in the months to come.

Today I’m continuing with another of the bigger acting categories…yes, it’s Best Supporting Actor.

Here now are the ten particular thespians that I have in play for Best Supporting Actor, with the top five cracking the unofficial lineup at this point:

1. Liam Neeson (Silence) – I suspect just about any list of this sort will feature Neeson in the top position. Part of it is due to an apparent weakness of the category, at least at this early juncture, but most of it is because Silence is a huge contender and Neeson is due another nomination, if not a win. It makes too much sense not to have him number one, at least right now. Honestly, I suspect he’ll remain in the top tier all throughout the season. Until it screens or the precursors start honoring someone else, we know who the frontrunner in Supporting Actor is.

2. Steve Martin (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk) – If there’s an alternative to Neeson right now, it probably has to be Martin. I’ve read the book Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, so I know that his part is an interesting one. He certainly deserves to be nominated if he knocks the performance out of the park, and he appears the only real competition in the top tier at the moment. A lot can and will change, but sight unseen, Martin is a definite threat, in particular if the movie becomes an awards juggernaut.

3. Kyle Chandler (Manchester by the Sea) – Going off of the Sundance buzz, Chandler should be in the conversation for his first nomination here. Manchester by the Sea could possibly do very well with voters, and if so, he’ll potentially be one of the beneficiaries. It’s a smaller film though, which leaves open the chance that it falls through the cracks. Assuming it doesn’t, Chandler is in a nice position to become one of the nominees in Supporting Actor.

4. Oscar Isaac (The Promise) – It’s a question of if, not when, Isaac will get nominated for the first time by the Academy. Could it be for this slightly under the radar title? Anything is possible, and Isaac is just so talented, you always kind of think it’s going to be his year. The Promise is an X factor this year to me, so if it turns into a real player, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Isaac is in the conversation in a big way. Right now, he seems in an enviable position.

5. Craig Robinson (Morris from America) – The fifth spot is wide open, so I’m being a bit bold still and going with Robinson, as opposed to some of the next gentlemen in line. Morris from America was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival, with Robinson getting some nice buzz. It’s possibly a long shot nomination, but this is the category to sometimes think outside the box, so I’ll go with him for at least a little bit longer. In a stronger year, he might be a tougher sell, but if Supporting Actor is a little more thin than usual, he could crack the lineup.

6. Jeremy Renner (Arrival) – Not everyone remembers this, but Renner got two Oscar nods in quick succession, so he’s almost due a win at this point. Arrival (formerly known as Story of Your Life) seems like a showcase for Amy Adams and himself, so if he’s on par with his previously nominated performances, there’s no reason not to assume he’s a big threat again this year. Honestly, if the flick is really good and he’s really good, Renner could even turn into a dark horse threat for the win.

7. Adam Driver (Silence) *Could go Lead – Depending on category placement, Driver could be another contender to come out of Silence. He’ll have some internal competition from Andrew Garfield and the aforementioned Neeson in either category, but Driver is one of the more exciting young actors out there, so you have to keep him in mind. We’ll know more about this one in the late fall/early winter, but until then, it’ll remain a default big time contender across the board.

8. Aaron Eckhart (Bleed for This or Sully) – With a pair of baity projects, Eckhart definitely could be in the running for his first citation. His part in Bleed for This might be a bit more traditionally awards friendly, but I wouldn’t count him out for Sully either, as that might be the one that voters flock to in a bigger way. Time will tell, but Eckhart at least has a solid shot at some recognition, and that’s never a bad thing. Sit tight to see how he ultimately fares…

9. Billy Crudup (20th Century Women) – For my money, Crudup is one the most underrated actors in the business, so he’s very due a nom. With 20th Century Women gaining some huge traction due to its Centerpiece selection for the New York Film Festival, there’s a chance that he could be a part of a sneak attack on the part of this movie. If you want a dark horse to back, Crudup might be it. It’s just a hunch, but anything is possible during the awards season, right?

10. Glenn Powell (Everybody Wants Some) – This final slot is a shot in the dark, but if Everybody Wants Some manages to re-emerge at the end of the year, Powell could definitely be someone who gets a bit of buzz. Comedic performances have a home in Supporting Actor from time to time, so it would be foolish to completely write him off. A longer shot? Totally, but one worth keeping in the back of your mind Stay tuned to see if Powell is able to surprise!

Next in line I’d have these ten contenders (just sans my commentary here) for Best Supporting Actor:

11. Ben Mendolsohn (Una)
12. Nick Offerman (The Founder)
13. Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)
14. Jack Huston (The Yellow Birds)
15. Warren Beatty (Rules Don’t Apply)
16. Edward Norton (Collateral Beauty)
17. Armie Hammer (The Birth of a Nation)
18. Scoot McNairy (War Machine)
19. Robert Pattinson (The Lost City of Z)
20. Peter Sarsgaard (Jackie)

Finally, here are ten more possibilities to give us a top 30 to cull from, just sans commentary as well:

21. John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane)
22. Michael Sheen (Passengers)
23. C. Thomas Howell (LBJ)
24. Marhershala Ali (Moonlight)
25. David Wenham (Lion)
26. John Carroll Lynch (The Founder)
27. Forest Whitaker (Arrival)
28. Stephen Henderson (Fences)
29. Scott Eastwood (Live by Night)
30. Jared Leto (Suicide Squad)

That’s what the Best Supporting Actor race could very well be made up of when all is said and done folks. Stay tuned next week, at the same awards time and same awards channel, for my look at the Best Supporting Actress race!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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