Sizing Up: Best Supporting Actor 2015

tdy_tren_rocky_150701.today-vid-canonical-featured-desktopHappy post Turkey Day folks. By now, you know what this is…my series of articles that deal with how to rank the chances of the various categories of Oscar contenders. This one is as large a scale grouping of the hopefuls for Best Supporting Actor as possible/prudent this year, excluding of course some no shot contenders and certain members of bigger ensembles. I’m categorizing them by their assumed likelihood of a nomination come nomination day, but that shouldn’t surprise you one bit by now. A couple of things to keep an eye for this category specifically (though not in a way that separates it from the other acting categories too much) is that it has an at least noticeable amount to do with which films get nominated for Best Picture. Plus, this is also the place where comedy can actually make a dent in the race from time to time, not to mention overlooked or veteran actors, though there are never any guarantees, for what that’s worth. We shall see what happens (and for comparison’s sake, last year I had all of of the five ultimate nominees in my Pole Position, including eventual winner J.K. Simmons for Whiplash), but it appears to be an absolutely jam packed race. Anyway, enough talk for the moment. Let’s take a look at the contenders for Best Supporting Actor and size up the field!

The “Wishful Thinking” Category

First thing’s first as per the usual around here for this series, let me throw out a few names that have zero percent chances of getting nominated this year. I’m fully confident that Steve Carell (Freeheld), LeBron James (Trainwreck), Frank Langella (5 to 7), Ezra Miller (The Stanford Prison Experiment), and Bill Murray (Aloha) are among the many who are solidly out of it. Moving on though, let’s go ahead and focus on the people in 2015 who might actually have a shot at a citation, starting with, of course…the long shots.

The “Dark horse/Long shot” Category

This first large group consists of ten supporting actors that I think all but certainly won’t be big contenders in the end, but aren’t out of the race completely yet and deserve at the very least a small mention here. They either are victims of films that won’t be able to make much headway in the race, performances that won’t really appeal to the Academy enough for momentum to build up, or just don’t have any real traction to speak of. Some of them are potentially bigger contenders than others are, as usual, and yes, especially in a loaded year like this they could wind up surprising you a little bit (though don’t bank on it). For me though, I’m inclined to bet against each of them right now in a big way. The men in question are as follows:

the-hateful-eight-bruce-dern-01-636-380Kyle ChandlerCarol
RJ CylerMe and Earl and the Dying Girl
Bruce DernThe Hateful Eight
Domhnall GleesonBrooklyn
John GoodmanTrumbo
Oscar IsaacEx Machina
Robert RedfordTruth
Michael SheenFar from the Maddening Crowd
Stanley TucciSpotlight
Forest WhitakerSouthpaw

Ironically, it’s usually the next category where I talk about how you could make a respectable five out of the group, but that applies here as well. Honestly, in another year we could be talking about Domhnall Gleeson for Brooklyn, John Goodman for Trumbo, Oscar Isaac for Ex Machina, Robert Redford for Truth, and Stanley Tucci for Spotlight (not to mention Liev Schreiber for Spotlight too, who I couldn’t even find space for) as top tier contenders. Here, they’re long shots at best, with an X factor such as Bruce Dern in The Hateful Eight having the potential to join them in the conversation. Perhaps one of those veterans can sneak up the rankings or Dern will surprise (in another year, he’d be a perfect fit as the winner), but for now, they’re all stuck here in this lower end category…

The “Second Tier” Contenders

With this next set of gentlemen in question, we find ones that are solidly in play for some attention in the Best Supporting Actor field, but have more than a few question marks impeding them from any further progress right now. I think that almost all of them will wind up fading away by the time the big morning rolls around, but it’s possible one of them could ride the precursor wave to a surprise nomination. There’s ten of these particular actors that would like to be considered big time contenders for the prize. I don’t see them as especially big ones myself, but like I said, they’re not far off, to differing degrees of course. The ones I see in this specific light are, as usual, a deeply varied bunch. They happen to be:

the-big-short-trailer-ryan-gosling-ftrEmory CohenBrooklyn
Robert De NiroJoy
Joel EdgertonBlack Mass
Sam ElliotGrandma
Walton GogginsThe Hateful Eight
Ryan GoslingThe Big Short
Jason MitchellStraight Outta Compton
Seth RogenSteve Jobs
Jason SegelThe End of the Tour
Michael Shannon99 Homes

Here especially, if I told you these were the only contenders for Best Supporting Actor, you could make an excellent five. Obviously, there’s a dozen bigger players still to come, but Emory Cohen for Brooklyn, Sam Elliot for Grandma, Ryan Gosling for The Big Short, Seth Rogen for Steve Jobs, and Jason Segel for The End of the Tour did work well worth honoring this year. That doesn’t even include the unseen contenders like Robert De Niro for Joy and Walton Goggins for The Hateful Eight (who’s rumored to steal some scenes), while Joel Edgerton for Black Mass might even be the most likely of the bunch. Honestly, it’s a shame that many of these guys will fall short, but they do have the potential to catch on with the precursors. Still, they’re definitely below the 12 that I’m about to discuss now, so it could be a hard road for them to get nominated.

The “Pole Position” Contenders

With this category, the Pole Position is really all that matters. This here represents the dozen most likely contenders for a Best Supporting Actor nomination according to my take on the race. My personal Oscar predictions at this specific juncture feature five of the men in this grouping, but that’s of course subject to constant change. They each have a lot going in their favor and seem to be in position for some strong precursor attention in the next few months. They’re also the stars of some of the most mentioned films so far this year, and I don’t expect that to change much anytime soon, especially in a few cases. The 12 particular thespians that I speak so highly of? They are:

mark_ruffaloChristian BaleThe Big Short
Paul DanoLove & Mercy
Benicio del ToroSicario
Idris ElbaBeasts of No Nation
Tom HardyThe Revenant
Michael KeatonSpotlight
Harvey KeitelYouth
Mark RuffaloSpotlight
Kurt RussellThe Hateful Eight
Mark RylanceBridge of Spies
Sylvester StalloneCreed
Jacob TremblayRoom

I feel very confident in saying that these are the most serious contenders in Supporting Actor, though I obviously wish some of the second tier hopefuls had a bigger shot. Anyway, we press on. Within this group, one of the Spotlight guys at least is sure to be nominated, with both probably able to get in, which bodes well for Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo. One of them will likely become the frontrunner too. If we assume they’re safe, that leaves ten players for four slots, which we can whittle down a bit by putting Christian Bale for The Big Short, Paul Dano for Love & Mercy (though the precursors have been very kind to him so far), Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation, and Jacob Tremblay for Room as ones with less of a chance than the others. That makes it only six for those spots, which is easier to deal with. Those half dozen consist of Benicio del Toro for Sicario, Tom Hardy for The Revenant, Harvey Keitel for Youth, Kurt Russell for The Hateful Eight, Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies, and Sylvester Stallone for Creed. Currently I’m on the Stallone bandwagon, so he’s in for my predictions at least right now, along with Russell (which is just a hunch until I see his film in a few days), leaving the others fighting it out for that last place. I’m embargoed on talking about Hardy for now, but del Toro definitely could slip in. A lot still has to be decided, but I think these are the 12 men that will whittle down to the fives nominees on nomination morning. I could be wrong (and have been before), but that’s how I see it. All of these guys have supporting turns that are going to get precursor love in some form (or at least consideration), so it’s just a matter of which ones the Academy likes best. Stay tuned to find out which emerge victorious and receive Oscar nominations.

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Thoughts? How do you see Best Supporting Actor shaping up? Discuss in the comments!