Looking At Potential Best Supporting Actor Contenders


Folks, here we go once again. As you might have guessed, it’s time to dive into another category. Today, one more Oscar field will 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. Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood) – Best Supporting Actor is currently Pitt’s for the taking. So far, his performance in Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood is the clear frontrunner in this category. Pitt has done his part, turning in some of his best work to date. It’ll all come down to whether or not someone else comes along and swoops in to steal the glory. Frankly, aside from the next contender, it may be hard to see who can do it too…

2. Al Pacino (The Irishman) – If there’s a potential alternative to Pitt, Pacino could be the one who makes the most sense. Netflix is planning to make The Irishman a huge Academy Award player, so everyone from Martin Scorsese on down should be in the running. Interestingly, Pacino in Supporting Actor could be the best chance to scoop up a win. Time will tell, of course. First up, actually laying eyes on the flick at the New York Film Festival.

3. Christian Bale (Ford v. Ferrari) *Could Go Lead – This could easily be swapped with his co-star Matt Damon, which would probably move everyone up one ahead of Damon. For now though, I’ll list Bale here for Ford v. Ferrari, and if he stays Supporting, he’ll likely be nominated once again. Stay tuned to see what happens with category placement here!

4. Joe Pesci (The Irishman) – Looming as one of the big X factors of the season, Scorsese’s epic may even have two Supporting players. Pesci’s return to cinema in The Irishman could be seen as a big deal, helping to get him one more nomination for what may well be a career capping turn. It’s easy to see it happening too, isn’t it?

5. Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) – Another unknown entity is Waititi. If he’s truly a scene stealer in Jojo Rabbit, it wouldn’t be crazy to see him nominated for acting in his own movie. This would easily be the most unique choice by Oscar voters in some time. It could also be the coolest. Either way, it’ll be an interesting story to keep track of once the flick makes its festival debut shortly!

6. Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes) – At the Telluride Film Festival over the weekend, Hopkins received some strong acclaim for his turn as Pope Benedict. Netflix will have to figure out how to find room for The Two Popes in the Oscar race, but if they can, watch out for Hopkins to slip in here…

7. Matthew Rhys (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) *Could Go Lead – Rhys will have to be campaigned here for this to actually happen, and there stands a chance that Tom Hanks is put in this spot instead, but watch out for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The race may well need a crowd pleaser like this one, and if it’s up to snuff, nominations abound could be in play.

8. Alan Alda (Marriage Story) – This could have been Ray Liotta from the same film in this space, though both Alda and Liotta have gotten strong buzz for their small roles in Marriage Story. Alda probably is the more sympathetic vote for Academy members, so perhaps that’ll be the tiebreaker in the end?

9. Wesley Snipes (Dolemite Is My Name) – Another Netflix title, this movie may or may not wind up playing in the awards arena, but if it does, Snipes could be in the conversation. Working against Dolemite Is My Name is the simple fact that the streaming giant probably can’t get four of the five positions in Supporting Actor, so it could just end up a numbers game here.

10. Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse) – Dafoe gets the final slot, though the aforementioned Liotta could have been placed here, not to mention Tracy Letts for Ford v. Ferrari and John Lithgow for Bombshell. However, while Dafoe is in the least Academy friendly project of the lot, he’s overdue for a win and you just never know when Oscar will decide it’s somebody’s time…

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

11. Tracy Letts (Ford v. Ferrari)
12. John Lithgow (Bombshell)
13. Ray Liotta (Marriage Story)
14. Bill Pullman (Dark Waters)
15. Chris Evans (Knives Out)
16. Geoffrey Wright (The Goldfinch)
17. Tommy Lee Jones (Ad Astra)
18. Timothée Chalamet (Little Women)
19. Lucas Hedges (Waves)
20. Will Smith (Aladdin)

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

21. Robert Pattinson (The King)
22. Leslie Odom Jr. (Harriet)
23. Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy)
24. Ben Mendelsohn (The King)
25. Bruce Willis (Motherless Brooklyn)
26. Alessandro Nivola (The Art of Self-Defense)
27. Jon Hamm (Lucy In The Sky or The Report)
28. Billy Crystal (Standing Up, Falling Down)
29. Robert Downey Jr. (Avengers: Endgame)
30. Bruce Dern (The Peanut Butter Falcon)

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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