While Caitríona Balfe remains the frontrunner here, the buzz and word of mouth for Aunjanue Ellis in King Richard is getting louder. More than a coattail to a Best Actor frontrunner, Ellis came into her own this year after decades in film and television as a veteran who has earned her due. Playing Oracene “Brandy” Williams, mother of tennis legends Venus and Serena, and wife to the ultimate sports dad Richard, Ellis carved our her own character and agency even when it wasn’t on the page. She grounded the film and centers Will Smith’s performance and all of that could make her a threat to win.
Category announcements for Nightmare Alley last week revealed that Searchlight Pictures will pursue a lead acting nod for Rooney Mara and supporting for Cate Blanchett changes up this month’s list significantly. A reverse Carol, if you will. That bodes well for Blanchett (who also has a scathingly funny turn in Don’t Look Up) but might torpedo Toni Collette’s long-awaited second Oscar nomination.
Nina Arianda, a Tony award winner and probably known more for her theatre work, enters the chart for her superb turn as Vivian Vance in Being the Ricardos but I’m not sure she’ll be able to make the cut in the way her co-stars and previous winners Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem and J.K. Simmons might be able to. She’ll have to topple three previous lead Oscar winners (Marlee Matlin, Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep), a supporting winner (Judi Dench) and a former lead nominee (Ruth Negga) to find a way into the top five, where two other first-timers are trying to break in (Ann Dowd and Ariana DeBose) in a category that right now could already feature four of them.
Speaking of Dowd, no one is working harder than the Emmy-winning actress to promote her film Mass and is truly the most likable person on the awards circuit right now and I think that could speak to voters in a way. I know others have been far more bullish on her chances than I have been so far. If she’s able to earn a Spirit Award nomination and gather a few critics’ awards, she will find herself firmly in this race.
Here are my ranked 2022 Supporting Actress Oscar predictions for November 2021.
Green – moves up ↑ Red – moves down ↓ Blue – new/re-entry ♦ Black – no movement ↔
1. Caitríona Balfe – Belfast (Focus Features) ↔
2. Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard (Warner Bros/HBO Max) ↑
3. Ruth Negga – Passing (Netflix) ↓
4. Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog (Netflix) ↓
5. Judi Dench – Belfast (Focus Features) ↓
6. Ann Dowd – Mass (Bleecker Street) ↑
7. Marlee Matlin – CODA (Apple Original Films) ↓
8. Ariana DeBose – West Side Story (20th Century Studios) ↔
9. Cate Blanchett – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures)
10. Meryl Streep – Don’t Look Up (Netflix) ↓
Other contenders: Nina Arianda – Being the Ricardos ♦ (Amazon Studios), Cate Blanchett – Don’t Look Up (Netflix), Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter (Netflix), Glenn Close – Swan Song (Apple Original Films), Toni Collette – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures), Rebecca Ferguson – Dune (Warner Bros/HBO Max), Sally Hawkins – Spencer (NEON), Gaby Hoffman – C’mon C’mon (A24), Jayne Houdyshell – The Humans (A24), Kathryn Hunter – The Tragedy of Macbeth (A24/Apple Original Films), Dakota Johnson – The Lost Daughter (Netflix), Rita Moreno – West Side Story (20th Century Studios), Martha Plimpton – Mass (Bleecker Street)