The Supporting Actor bench this year is pretty stacked and even includes another chance a double nominations from the same film, as we just saw happen with Three Billboards (after not happening since 1992). And, as luck would have it, it’s a film with the current Best Supporting Actor winner Sam Rockwell. Adam McKay’s Backseat, the Dick Cheney biopic, is ripe with a cast full of previous Oscar winners and nominees and is poised to land quite a few more. I’ve already listed Christian Bale as a top contender in Best Actor but along with Rockwell’s characterization of former President George W. Bush we have Oscar nominee Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) lined up as then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Word is that Carell has a much bigger part than Rockwell and really steals the show (much like Rockwell did with Harrelson in 3B) so for right now I’m going with Carell as my top pick for March.
Timothée Chalamet exploded onto the scene last year and became the youngest Best Actor nominee in over a decade for Call Me By Your Name. He could be right back in it, this time in supporting, for Beautiful Boy. Interestingly enough, Steve Carell plays his father (and whom the book of the story is derived).
Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk stands to be a breakout for many of its actors, not the least of which is Stephan James who plays Fonny. While not a lead role, it’s the biggest and most important male supporting role and hey, the last time Jenkins used a large cast of supporting players the main supporting actor (Mahershala Ali) won the Oscar.
Circling back to Rockwell, he’s definitely in my top five right now and makes a lot of sense right after his win. He’s on the Academy radar now and this is a high-profile film and role. Even though his part is smaller than Carell’s he could even vault over him as the season progresses.
Richard E. Grant has been working in film for over 30 years; from his audacious debut in the cult classic Withnail and I to The Age of Innocence to the Oscar-winning Gosford Park to yes, Spice World, he spent the 80s and 90s as one of the most venerable British supporting actors yet he’s never really been given his due. He’s never even been BAFTA-nominated. That could change with Can You Ever Forgive Me? with Melissa McCarthy. Fox Searchlight is counting on this being a major player for them this awards season and they just won Best Picture (The Shape of Water) while juggling an equally strong film in the race (Three Billboards), in total earning three supporting actor nominations and one win.
Below that are a handful of actors looking for their first nomination including Kyle Chandler for First Man (said to have the best role after Ryan Gosling), Adam Driver in Black Klansman (which I feel is going to be Focus Features’ main play this year) and Donald Sutherland for Ad Astra. It’s still mind-blowing that Sutherland has never been nominated before. The Academy obviously thought so as well since they gave him an Honorary Oscar just this year.
Looking to come back after his first nomination this year is Daniel Kaluuya. His film Widows is likely going to be a big awards player this year and he’s a perfect afterglow nomination contender. But wait, there’s also Liam Neeson in Widows looking for a long overdue comeback to the Oscars in the same category. It will be fun to follow how this plays out. If Black Panther can find itself staying in the Oscar conversation throughout the year (and it will take critics and prognosticators to do that) then Michael B. Jordan could be in the running for portraying one of the most complex villains since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight.
As mentioned in the opening, this is a really rich category of possibility. There are dozens of supporting actor roles that could find themselves in the conversation in the coming months. Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther; Russell Crowe and Joel Edgerton (who directed) in Boy Erased; Steve Buscemi in Lean on Pete (he led the supporting actor predictions last year when we didn’t know where A24 was going to drop the film); Oscar Isaac in At Eternity’s Gate or Life Itself; Jeff Bridges in Bad Times at the El Royale; Jake Gyllenhaal in either The Sisters Brothers or Wildlife. It’s a substantial list and one that makes almost anything seem possible.
Here are the first Best Supporting Actor predictions for the 2019 Oscars.
1. Steve Carell – Backseat
2. Timothée Chalamet – Beautiful Boy
3. Stephan James – If Beale Street Could Talk
4. Sam Rockwell – Backseat
5. Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
6. Kyle Chandler – First Man
7. Donald Sutherland – Ad Astra
8. Adam Driver – Black Klansman
9. Daniel Kaluuya – Widows
10. Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther
Any number of these other contenders could easily find themselves a major player as the year progresses:
Casey Affleck – Old Man and the Gun
Mahershala Ali – Green Book
Joe Alwyn – Boy Erased
Jon Bernthal – First Man
Jeff Bridges – Bad Times at the El Royale
Steve Buscemi – Lean on Pete
Russell Crowe – Boy Erased
Robert Duvall – Widows
Joel Edgerton – Boy Erased
Sam Elliott – A Star is Born
Colin Firth – Kursk
Topher Grace – Under the Silver Lake
Michael Greyeyes – Woman Walks Ahead
Jake Gyllenhaal – The Sisters Brothers
Jake Gyllenhaal – Wildlife
Armie Hammer – On the Basis of Sex
Rutger Hauer – The Sisters Brothers
Lucas Hedges – Mid 90s
André Holland – Widows
Oscar Isaac – At Eternity’s Gate
Oscar Isaac – Life Itself
Samuel L. Jackson – Life Itself
Ken Jeong – Crazy Rich Asians
Aaron Taylor Johnson – Outlaw King
Irrfan Khan – Puzzle
Ben Kingsley – Operation Finale
Diego Luna – If Beale Street Could Talk
Matthew McConaughey – White Boy Rick
Scoot McNairy – Destroyer
Lin-Manuel Miranda – Mary Poppins Returns
Liam Neeson – Widows
Chris O’Dowd – Juliet, Naked
Guy Pearce – The Catcher Was a Spy
Jonathan Pryce – The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
Sam Rockwell – Woman Walks Ahead
Mark Ruffalo – Newsflash
Matthias Schoenaerts – Kursk
J.K. Simmons – The Front Runner
Alexander Skarsgård – The Hummingbird Project
Ricardo Scamarccio – Loro
Sebastian Stan – Destroyer
Corey Stoll – First Man
David Tennant – Mary Queen of Scots
Courtney B. Vance – Ben is Back
Vince Vaughn – Fighting with My Family
Dominic West – Colette
Forest Whitaker – Burden
Alex Wolff – Hereditary