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2017 Oscar Predictions: BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (December) – Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali is the new #1

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In perhaps the biggest shakeup of any Oscar predictions this month, former Best Supporting Actor reigning champ Liam Neeson (Silence) has finally been dethroned. Neeson camped out in the #1 since the very first predictions way back in March and refused to give up the spot. That was before Silence had been seen and now that it has screened (I’ve seen it myself), his very limited screen time has dropped from that top spot all the way down to #6. But remember, predictions are a snapshot in time – how things are at the moment. Neeson could bounce back the way Tom Hardy did in this category last year, in the very late-breaking Oscar winner The Revenant.

So what does Neeson’s vacating of the #1 spot mean for the rest of the guys here? It means we have a new #1 in Moonlight‘s Mahershala Ali. And Ali is not simply a de facto #1 because of Neeson’s drop, the actor has won the supporting actor prizes from both New York and Los Angeles critics, about as surefire a pair of precursors as you can get before the televised awards. Despite Moonlight being an ‘all supporting’ cast that includes no less than four supporting actors, critics and the awards team seem to have coalesced around Ali as their main push and it’s paying off. He moves to the top spot from #4 last month. An Ali at #1 – there must be a prizefighting comparison to be made there somewhere, right?

Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water) and Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) swap spots this month. Bridges won the National Board of Review supporting actor prize and Hedges took the Breakthrough award from them as well as from Washington DC critics.

Dev Patel (Lion) moves into the top 5, doubling his point totals and Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins) bounces back this month. Below the top 5 is Neeson (who again, can come back even if he doesn’t earn SAG or Globe nominations), Bridges’s HOHW co-star Ben Foster (who is gaining a lot of traction as a possible nominee here – it would be the first time since 1991 that we saw two supporting actors from the same film), Issey Ogata (Neeson’s “replacement” from Silence) and Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals) holds on, but just barely.

The case for Ogata is a slim one, to be sure. He’s mostly unknown (unless you’re a real cinephile) and is one of three Japanese actors in Silence that are supporting actor nomination worthy. And the big changes to yank Neeson out of predictions was a push on my part since I’ve seen the film. Only two Gold Rush Gang members left Neeson in after giving my thoughts on the film and Neeson’s chances. Then there’s Adam Driver. Although he’s not really nomination worthy in this he could easily take away votes simply by being more recognizable. But, Paramount has smartly pushed Ogata and put him in the traveling Q&As where he’s been charming and funny with his anecdotes on his acting career.

From the Other Contenders, a very full sub-section, we could see Oscar-winner Kevin Costner come through, but only if Hidden Figures ends up being a bigger player. Although, the thought of a film about black, female mathematicians working at NASA resulting in a sole acting nomination for its white, male actor is a possibility – just not one I’d like to entertain. The pair of supporting actors from Fences, Stephen McKinley Henderson and Mykelti Williamson could make it in – or cancel each other out. That’s to say nothing of the possibility of Jovan Adepo if Fences hits big. Only Henderson has been a player in our predictions this year, though. Aaron Eckhart continues to be a low-key threat with two supporting performances to choose from, Bleed for This and Sully. A Screen Actors Guild and/or Golden Globe nomination would be really helpful for him. Same goes for Peter Sarsgaard in Jackie. His film would need to over-perform for him to get a nomination though and that window seems to be getting smaller each day.

Here are the 2017 Oscar predictions for Best Supporting Actor from The Gold Rush Gang for December:

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OTHER CONTENDERS
Kevin Costner – Hidden Figures
Adam Driver – Silence
Aaron Eckhart – Bleed for This
Aaron Eckhart – Sully
André Holland – Moonlight
Yōsuke Kubozuka – Silence
Stephen McKinley Henderson – Fences
Jeremy Renner – Arrival
Trevante Rhodes – Moonlight
Peter Sarsgaard – Jackie
Mykelti Williamson – Fences

Follow the updated Gold Rush Gang predictions in these Oscar categories here:

BEST PICTURE
BEST DIRECTOR
BEST ACTOR
BEST ACTRESS
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
BEST FILM EDITING
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
BEST SOUND EDITING
BEST SOUND MIXING
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM (the shortlist)

About Erik Anderson

Erik blames his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched them together since he opened his eyes. They also watched Miss Universe religiously every year (the pageantry!) and Erik came to the conclusion that the combination of these two things ultimately led him down the path to obsessing about awards and ACTRESSING. He began at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch.