The rollercoaster of category placement for the actors in Belfast has finally come to a stop. Last week, it was revealed that the entire adult cast of the film (Caitríona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds) would all be run supporting with a sole lead push for youngster Jude Hill. That means Balfe is not only back in the hunt here but rockets to #1.
Obviously the most impacted by this decision is Dench, who alone would be an easy top 5 contender. But the Oscar winner and 7-time nominee is such an Academy favorite that I think there is still a place for her. While Balfe’s role is significantly larger, nearly a co-lead performance, I look at it like Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah in 2002’s Chicago; a clear frontrunner by virtue of role size but where both can easily get in, especially if Belfast is the Best Picture frontrunner I believe it to be. Add to that, supporting actress is a category historically very open to two actresses from the same film getting nodded. In the past 93 years, 35 supporting actress lineups have included two or more co-stars nominated, with 12 taking home the Oscar, although the most recent was 10 years ago, Octavia Spencer for The Help (2011).
Ruth Negga makes the only move up from last month with her role and performance in Rebecca Hall’s Passing looking more and more like a slam dunk for her second Oscar nomination. She was previously nominated in Best Actress for 2016’s Loving. This drops Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog) a bit but being in the overall stronger film (both are from Netflix) helps keep her in the top 5. Aunjanue Ellis holds tight at #5 for King Richard, looking primed for her first nomination but former Best Actress winner Marlee Matlin in CODA is going to give her, and other contenders, some chase as she hopes for her first nomination since her history-making win from 1986’s Children of a Lesser God.
Outside of the top three or four it’s a very fluid race with now just a few films and performances to be seen, any of which could impact the race in a big way: both Toni Collette and Rooney Mara in Nightmare Alley, Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett in Don’t Look Up, Ariana DeBose and Rita Moreno in West Side Story (what is it with this year and dual supporting actress pushes?) and the venerable 8-time Academy Award nominee Glenn Close in Swan Song, which will have its world premiere at AFI FEST next month.
Here are my ranked 2022 Supporting Actress Oscar predictions for October 2021.
Green – moves up ↑ Red – moves down ↓ Blue – new/re-entry ♦ Black – no movement ↔
1. Caitríona Balfe – Belfast (Focus Features) ♦
2. Ruth Negga – Passing (Netflix) ↑
3. Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog (Netflix) ↓
4. Judi Dench – Belfast (Focus Features) ↓
5. Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard (Warner Bros/HBO Max) ↔
6. Marlee Matlin – CODA (Apple TV+) ↓
7. Toni Collette – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) ↓
8. Ariana DeBose – West Side Story (20th Century Studios) ↓
9. Meryl Streep – Don’t Look Up (Netflix) ↔
10. Ann Dowd – Mass (Bleecker Street) ↔
Other contenders: Cate Blanchett – Don’t Look Up (Netflix), Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter (Netflix), Glenn Close – Swan Song (Apple), Rebecca Ferguson – Dune (Warner Bros/HBO Max), Alana Haim – Licorice Pizza (MGM/UA), Sally Hawkins – Spencer (NEON), Gaby Hoffman – C’mon C’mon (A24), Jayne Houdyshell – The Humans (A24), Kathryn Hunter – The Tragedy of Macbeth ♦ (A24/Apple) Dakota Johnson – The Lost Daughter (Netflix), Rooney Mara – Nightmare Alley ↓ (Searchlight Pictures), Rita Moreno – West Side Story (20th Century Studios), Anya Taylor-Joy – Last Night in Soho (Focus Features)