It’s not often that Supporting Actor is the most contentious category of Oscar season but it sure is this year. Each week, each day finds a new top 5 emerging and looking at the nine men who have garnered votes from the Gold Rush Gang you could make a logical argument for ANY of them to make the the cut, or to be cut. Unlike some of the categories which will see some snubs, shocking or not, in Best Supporting Actor there will be significant snubs.
Starting off at the top, Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) has parlayed his very successful theater career (winning multiple Tonys to boot) into finding himself in the pole position for this race. He comes in with a SAG nomination, a Golden Globe nomination and critics wins from New York and Boston. Yet, the largely unknown actor, despite his baity role and performance in BoS, could find himself on the outs in favor of some more well-known actors, some of which have been previous Oscar nominees.
Newcomer Jacob Tremblay, a co-lead of his film (some would say the true lead since it’s told from his POV) Room, seems likely to eschew the category fraud drama that’s plagued some of the supporting actresses this year because of his age. Kids that are co-leads of their films are often pushed to supporting even when it’s blatantly false to do so. Tatum O’Neal and Haley Joel Osment turned that into a win and a nomination. Tremblay missed out on a Globe nom (but they really don’t like nominating kids) but he got a SAG nomination and has been represented in the critics awards outside of the ghetto of ‘Best Young/Breakthrough Performance,’ (although he’s won two of those).
Idris Elba and his Beasts of No Nation roared back to relevancy last week with a coup at the SAG nominations, earning one for himself and the film getting a Cast nod. Visibility for his film, being on Netflix, certainly gave him an advantage over other performances in either little seen films or films that haven’t come out yet and had a late-breaking screener. He also comes in with a Golden Globe nomination, an Independent Spirit Award nomination and a win from the Washington DC critics. If AMPAS is looking for some, well, color, to their nominees then Elba is a good bet. It’s also a classic Supporting Actor type of role and nomination.
The Oscars love a good comeback story, take a look at the run Mickey Rourke had with The Wrestler in 2008. The same is happening with Sylvester Stallone in Creed. Albeit, with less fervor and traction than Rourke got. Stallone, playing Rocky Balboa for a seventh time, was nominated in Best Actor and Best Writing (Original) back in 1977 and has been chasing that glory ever since. More a Razzie nominee and winner than an Oscar one, that reputation could hobble him in the final leg of this race. He earned a Golden Globe nomination but not SAG. Again, timing and screeners probably being the reason. Plus, the buzz for him here started suddenly and rapidly and might not have had enough time to set.
Christian Bale comes to the Supporting Actor race as the only contender that’s also a previous winner (The Fighter, 2010). He’s been the standout from The Big Short, earning SAG and Golden Globe nominations (although in Lead for the latter). The film also made it into Cast and Best Picture (Comedy), respectively.
Michael Shannon (99 Homes) has come on as the out of left field contender that no one saw coming, and in a race that was already stacked. First came the surprise win from the LA critics. Fine, they make left field choices all the time. Then he hit SAG. Then the Globes the next day. Add to that an Independent Spirit nom and a win from the San Francisco critics and you have a formidable contender. And Shannon knows a thing or two about being a surprise player; he was Oscar nominated for Revolutionary Road with absolutely zero precursor support. This time he comes in guns blazing.
The Spotlight guys…what a mess. The decision by Open Roads Films to push the entire cast in supporting seemed like a nice idea at the time. It’s a true ensemble, there’s not much in the way of a traditional lead and it means everyone is on the same level field. It also means that both Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo have found themselves snubbed over and over again this season for awards kudos. Both missed SAG. Both missed the Globes. Both missed Independent Spirit noms. That’s not a small deal. They’ve done fine in the Ensemble department, winning citations from Washington DC, Boston and Gotham critics and quite surprisingly, Keaton won Best Actor from NYFCC. That had to throw Open Road and their awards campaign team for a loop. It should have been a wake-up call to pivot Keaton and start pushing him as a Lead contender. Arguably, he’s the only performer in the film that could be lead and he’s the only one with a fully fleshed out arc. Leaving him in Supporting could mean both he and Ruffalo end up with nothing on Oscar nomination morning.
Tom Hardy has made a bit of a comeback in this category after being near the top for most of the summer and then falling each month. Being the co-star of the frontrunner for Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), his villain role in The Revenant is pure AMPAS bait. When you add that his two other films have garnered critics wins (Legend has earned Hardy lead actor mentions, Mad Max has dominated the critics in Best Picture) you start to see a narrative where rewarding him here makes the most sense.
But what about Paul Dano? I would be remiss not to mention him even though he doesn’t have a single vote from the Gold Rush Gang. He’s a huge critics favorite and a favorite from many Oscar pundits. He’s gotten a Globe nomination (in supporting) but missed out on SAG. He’s also been suffering from Lead vs. Supporting disease this season. That couldn’t have been made more clear than when the San Francisco Film Critics Circle nominated his performance in Love & Mercy in both Lead and Supporting and he won Lead. He’s a definite contender here but, like I said, you can take any five of the ten contenders here and make a completely valid and realistic top 5 for the Oscars.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
|Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies||48||1|
|Jacob Tremblay, Room||27||2|
|Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation||22||3|
|Sylvester Stallone, Creed||22||3|
|Christian Bale, The Big Short||18||5|
|Michael Shannon, 99 Homes||6||6|
|Michael Keaton, Spotlight||5||7|
|Tom Hardy, The Revenant||3||8|
|Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight||2||9|
Follow the Best Supporting Actor race from the Gold Rush Gang here.