Looking At Potential Best Supporting Actress Contenders


Here we go again! As you all very fine ladies and gentlemen must all must know by now (since I’ve pretty much hammered it into your collective heads at this point), it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions in order to see what folks like myself think will happen this winter, but it’s a whole separate thing to actually know something about who and what will be in contention. To help out in that particular regard, I’m continuing my yearly ritual of 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 or 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 potentially take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet to have in your back pocket.

Today I’m continuing on with another of the big acting categories and I bet you guessed which one it is. Yes, it’s now Best Supporting Actress time.

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

1. Laura Dern (Marriage Story) – Far and away right now the frontrunner in Best Supporting Actress is Dern, who could absolutely cakewalk to an Academy Award. You can even make the case that Dern’s turn in Marriage Story is the only contender all but assured of a nomination right now. More on the category below, but Dern has the combination of being due, being popular, and having rave reviews on her side. Here in mid September, it’s hard to see how she loses.

2. Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers) – Lopez might easily capitalize on the lack of a real competitor to Dern and challenge ever so slightly here. It remains to be seen if Hustlers can become an awards player, despite the strong reviews and terrific box office. If it foes, and if Lopez goes Supporting, she may well end up Dern’s main challenger…

3. Annette Bening (The Report) – Back at the Sundance Film Festival, Bening scored solid notices for her turn as Senator Diane Feinstein in The Report. Since then, her praise has been more muted, though with how this category is shaping up, she could still easily slip in. The chances of her winning now seem somewhat remote though, so will the Academy make her a bridesmaid again if they have no interest in making her a bride?

4. Margot Robbie (Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood) – Robbie has such a seemingly shallow field behind her (give or take one or two possibilities), she may wind up higher than this when all is said and done. Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood is going to be a major player with voters, across the board, so sleep on Robbie at your own risk. Her second nominations rests mostly on whether or not anyone else steps up here.

5. Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit) – Call this a hunch, but the weakness of the category could lead to Johansson being double nominated. Her turn in Marriage Story may win her Best Actress, but this role in Jojo Rabbit hasn’t received the same acclaim. Still, the film is going to play, and she could come along for the ride, boosting her chances ultimately in Actress.

6. Anna Paquin (The Irishman) – Another pure hunch, as it’ll be another week before I, along with the rest of the awards pundits in the industry, see The Irishman. However, Paquin is a former winner of this category and has never been invited back. So much depends on what her role is like, though if ever there was a year for her to return, this would be it!

7. Charlize Theron (Bombshell) *Could Go Lead – This could easily be Nicole Kidman instead, but category placement is still to come here. Right now, however, it seems like Theron is going Supporting for Bombshell and looms as a threat to crack the lineup. All she needs is solid notice and someone above to tail off, and she’ll be in…

8. Jennifer Hudson (Cats) – What if Cats is good? If so, maybe Hudson is a beneficiary? If so, the former winner could be another option to return to the Supporting Actress race. Voters will have to embrace an unusual looking film and not be put off by its look, and that’s not a sure thing. This will be one of the more interesting possibilities to consider as the category evolves!

9. Emma Watson (Little Women) – Depending on where the focus is here in the retelling of the classic tale, Watson could have a really juicy part to play. Little Women should have a ton of interesting performances within it, that’s for sure. Watson’s part could either be throwaway or one of the prime supporting players. How this turns out, along with the movie itself, could ultimately determine how this category shapes up.

10. Anne Hathaway (Dark Waters) – Hathaway is a total shot in the dark here. Taylor Russell for Waves could make a play, while it’s silly to sleep on Maggie Smith for Downton Abbey. Then, there’s Zhao Shuzhen, if The Farewell becomes a force. For now though, Hathaway is as solid an X factor as anyone for the unknown quantity that is Dark Waters.

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

11. Taylor Russell (Waves)
12. Zhao Shuzhen (The Farewell)
13. Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
14. Octavia Spencer (Luce)
15. Julie Hagerty (Marriage Story)
16. Janelle Monáe (Harriet)
17. Florence Pugh (Little Women)
18. Zazie Beetz (Lucy In The Sky)
19. Meryl Streep (Little Women)
20. Carrie Fisher (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)

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

21. Ruth Negga (Ad Astra)
22. Tilda Swinton (The Souvenir)
23. Lily-Rose Depp (The King)
24. Caitriona Balfe (Ford v. Ferrari)
25. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Motherless Brooklyn)
26. Catherine Deneuve (The Truth)
27. Dakota Johnson (The Peanut Butter Falcon)
28. Frances Conroy (Joker)
29. Imogen Poots (The Art of Self-Defense)
30. Jena Malone (The Public)

That’s what the Best Supporting Actress race could very well be made up of folks. Stay tuned next week for my look at the Best Adapted Screenplay 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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