As the year draws to a close we’re getting closer and closer to the Academy Awards nominations, which will be announced the morning of January 24th, 2017. So with that said I would like to finish up major Oscar predictions before then and also hopefully turn out a round of Golden Globe predictions prior to their ceremony on January 8th. Best Supporting Actor has been a tough category to predict so far this year with a lack of a coherent frontrunner until somewhat recently. It’ll be a bit easier to call this now thanks to the recent slew of Critic’s Circle awards being handed out for the past month and the Screen Actors Guild nominations that were released earlier this month. Those awards usually serve as a strong predictor of the Oscar category or at least someone who we can identify as a potential frontrunner for the time being. That being said I won’t have to discern between movies that have or are yet to be seen so that makes this post somewhat easier.
As of right now the current leader among critics awards, including a win at the Critics Choice Awards, a SAG and Golden Globe nomination, is Mahershala Ali in Moonlight. Ali does a fantastic job despite somewhat limited screen-time, but his character’s presence persists throughout the rest of the film. I am also a fan of his work on Netflix’s House of Cards and so I think that he has an excellent shot at an Oscar nomination and at this point an Oscar win. Also consistently appearing in the three groups mentioned above are Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water and Dev Patel in Lion. Bridges essentially plays himself as a Texas Ranger for 75% of the film, but after that mark in the film his character takes a more harrowed turn that I believe has put him over the top among critics groups. Patel on the other hand reportedly does his best work since Slumdog Millionaire in Lion and has also consistently appeared in these Oscar prognosticators.
In addition to Ali, Bridges, and Patel, who seem to be somewhat close to a lock for Oscar nominations, there are two more actors who have shown up with SAG Awards, Critics Choice, or even Golden Globe nominations, albeit in a different category. Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins was hailed as an early frontrunner thanks to a combination of his star-power and an excellent performance. However, a number of people have been calling category fraud and claiming that his performance is a leading one and not supporting. That being said he campaigned Lead for the Golden Globes and was nominated in a somewhat thinner category, although it’s unlikely that he’ll beat out Ryan Gosling in La La Land. In addition to Hugh Grant, Lucas Hedges‘ excellent work in Manchester by the Sea has been rightfully praised by many, and his numerous wins for young acting awards like at Critics Choice, as well as a SAG nomination make him a likely choice for the Academy. Especially in a year that is seeking to lean nominations toward a younger, more diverse audience, Hedges, along with Ali and Patel, could all benefit.
However, Best Supporting Actor is nothing if not a volatile category. Last year only two from the Golden Globes and SAG rosters made it into the Oscar’s five nominees: Mark Rylance and Sylvester Stallone from the Globes and Christian Bale and Mark Rylance from SAG. In the end despite appearing in both categories both Michael Shannon in 99 Homes and Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation were snubbed. In fact, the best predictor may have been the Critics Choice Awards, where four of their six nominees ended up being nominated, missing only Bale in The Big Short. This leaves some room for others to make it into the category, especially if larger groups like BAFTA go in their own direction. Only time will tell. That being said using Critics Choice and some other smaller awards four or five other potential nominees seem to emerge.
Perhaps the most likely is Michael Shannon for Nocturnal Animals, Tom Ford’s latest film that has divided some critics and audiences, but Shannon’s acting work has emerged as the consistent positive word in many reviews. Shannon made it into Critics Choice, has appeared at some smaller awards, but interestingly didn’t get a Globe nomination. Instead, Shannon’s costar Aaron Taylor-Johnson received a Globe nod on a good day at the Globes for Nocturnal Animals. I’m reading this as a show of support for the film, and the same goes for the film’s interesting pop-up at SAG in no individual acting category but for Best Stunt Ensemble. These seem pretty tenuous but it could help keep Shannon and his film in the discussion. In addition to Shannon, Ben Foster, who also was nominated for Critics Choice for Hell or High Water, could also find his way into the category. I personally believe that he does better work than Bridges in the film and his character is the most dynamic and complex in the movie. That being said it’s possible that he could get in along with Bridges, or they could split the vote and neither could get it. I find that unlikely but with the Oscars you never know.
That leaves just a few potential nominees left to mention. The premiere of Martin Scorsese’s latest film Silence have been met with plenty of praise for all of the acting in the film. Although it hasn’t appeared in many major precursors due to its late release or distaste among some viewers, in terms of Supporting Actor nominees a lot of praise has centered around Japanese comedian-turned-actor Issey Ogata. The Oscars have done stuff like this before, i.e. not nominating someone until the morning of, especially for a late release like this one. Just look at Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained or Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street. This nomination likely hinges a lot on how the rest of the Academy reacts to the film, but this one would definitely be a welcome breath of fresh air. There’s also been quite a bit of praise for Kevin Costner‘s work in Hidden Figures, in which he plays a stern but admirable leader at NASA. Although he hasn’t appeared anywhere yet, the film was nominated for the SAG Ensemble award, and the late nature of the film combined with its box-office potential means that he could certainly pop up as well. Finally there’s also been a lot of positive word for the supporting actors in Denzel Washington’s Fences, especially for Mykelti Williamson as Troy’s disabled brother Gabriel. This is a worthy role, as a fan of the play, and in a film that will likely be getting plenty of acting love come Oscar morning.
So with all of that said, the safest bets are probably to stick with the SAG five for now, especially those top three that I mentioned. I will leave some room for work like Ogata or Costner, but unless something like BAFTA comes in and rewrites the game I may just leave it like this for some time. As of today my predicted nominees are:
- Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
- Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
- Dev Patel – Lion
- Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins
- Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
With some wiggle room between 6 and 7 for Issey Ogata and Kevin Costner, respectively, and then Michael Shannon, Ben Foster, and Mykelti Williamson right behind them. This has shaped up to be a very exciting and diverse category and I look forward to seeing how the Academy votes on it.