I was admittedly a bit cheeky with my Supporting Actor prediction piece since it’s such a locked up race but even in Supporting Actress we have a clear frontrunner even in a category filled with potential spoilers.
When Glenn Close lost Best Actress for 2018’s The Wife, her 7th Oscar nomination, the bells chimed for whatever her next project as the one to finally get her a win. After such a catastrophic loss despite a great precursor run, she was bested by Olivia Colman who clinched it with a BAFTA win and a film with 10 nominations. As luck would have it, the two ended up face to face once again, here in supporting actress. For Close, Hillbilly Elegy has only one other nomination: Makeup and Hairstyling, which it’s not a frontrunner in. For Colman, The Father is a much stronger film that is in contention in multiple categories. Yet, neither have secured any precursor wins and both were even snubbed at BAFTA, new rules and voting procedures notwithstanding.
Amanda Seyfried (Mank) felt like the type of ingenue frontrunner late last summer. In a film about movies (sort of), playing a movie star of the 30s there were shades of Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential at the onset. Her Marion Davies is the heart of the film and the moral compass for Gary Oldman’s titular character. She stumbled at SAG (and BAFTA) but then bounced back to ultimately earn the Oscar nomination but then her film, despite being the nomination leader with 10, still underperformed. At this point it’s largely predicted to only take production design so I’m not sure Seyfried has enough to suddenly leapfrog to the top spot.
The year’s Cinderella, without question, has been Maria Bakalova in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. An unknown, a co-lead, and in a brave and crazy performance, Bakalova’s Tutar and her performance is also one of Oscar’s most unlikely nominations. I even held off from predicting her for the nomination until right up to the end as the Academy’s relationship with comedy is lousy and for crude comedy even worse. Outside of Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids you’d be hard-pressed to find a supporting actress nomination like this. But she prevailed. I do think the pivotal and highly publicized scene with disgraced New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani in the hotel room is the reason she’s here though, and I say that without dismissing her fantastic performance overall in the film. Without that scene I don’t think the film would have generated the buzz and free press to have kept her, much less allowed her to be, in the conversation.
That leaves SAG and BAFTA winner Yuh-jung Youn in Minari. A Cinderella story of her own, Youn is a well-known actress in Korea but virtually unknown here. As the feisty grandmother Soonja, Youn captured hearts with her warm performance and soon became an indelible feature alongside her pint-sized co-star Alan Kim on the interview circuit. Youn’s speeches so far have been memorable, funny and deeply gracious at the same time. The existence of Minari is somewhat of a miracle itself; even with the history-making Best Picture win by Parasite last year, Asian actors had consistently been left on the sidelines for acting nominations. As we enter the 5th year since the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag by April Reign sparked demonstrable change within the Academy to expand its ranks and horizons on what the landscape of film and representation look like, we saw increases in Black talent recognized but still not Asian actors. The Screen Actors Guild kicked that door down when it nominated Youn, Steven Yeun and the film for its ensemble cast. It made the previously invisible visible and now Youn is the first Korean actress to be nominated for an Oscar and is the frontrunner to be the first Asian supporting actress winner since Japanese-American actress Miyoshi Umeki for 1957’s Sayonara.
The 93rd Oscars will be held on April 25 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and the Union Station in Los Angeles.
Here are my ranked final Oscar predictions in Supporting Actress.
- Yuh-jung Youn in Minari (A24) – BAFTA, BFCA, SAG
- Glenn Close in Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix) – BFCA, GG, SAG
- Olivia Colman in The Father (Sony Pictures Classics) – BFCA, GG, SAG
- Maria Bakalova in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Amazon Studios) – BAFTA, BFCA, GG*, SAG (*in lead)
- Amanda Seyfried in Mank (Netflix) – BFCA, GG