2018 Oscar Circuit: Best Supporting Actor

AND THE BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR NOMINEES ARE

Willem Dafoe – “The Florida Project
Oscar Scene: “It’s only the second week of summer and there’s already been a dead fish in the pool.

Woody Harrelson – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Oscar Scene: “I’d do anything to catch the guy who did it, Mrs. Hayes, but when the DNA don’t match no one who’s ever been arrested, and when the DNA don’t match any other crime nationwide, and there wasn’t a single eyewitness from the time she left your house to the time we found her, well… right now there ain’t too much more we could do.

Richard Jenkins – “The Florida Project
Oscar Scene: “When he looks at me, the way he looks at me… He does not know, what I lack… Or – how – I am incomplete. He sees me, for what I – am, as I am. He’s happy – to see me. Every time. Every day. Now, I can either save him… or let him die.

Christopher Plummer – “All the Money in the World
Oscar Scene: “When a man gets wealthy, he has to deal with the problems of freedom. All the choices he could possibly want. An abyss opens up. Well, I watched that abyss. I watched it ruin men, marriages, but most of all, it ruins the children.

Sam Rockwell – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Oscar Scene: “We’ve had two official complaints about those billboards…There’s your lady with a funny eye…And a fat dentist.

There are few categories as easy to predict this year as Best Supporting Actor is. No manner of precursor or statistic has any variable in what it’s telling us, as one of the nominees has run away with things. Supporting Actor this year is also noteworthy for featuring only one nominee who is being honored for the first time, moreover the fact that it’s the big time frontrunner. Thought to be at least potentially a two horse race early on in the season, Supporting Actor has had all the suspense sucked out as things progressed. There are categories that might contain upsets at the Academy Awards, but this won’t be one of them. The outcome is clear to see. Now, lets dive in and take a look at the nominees, shall we?

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First I have a bit of history for all of you. The last dozen winners in this category have been Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight“), Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies“), J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash“), Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club“), Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained“), Christopher Plummer (“Beginners“), Christian Bale (“The Fighter“), Waltz again (“Inglourious Basterds“), Heath Ledger (“The Dark Knight“), and Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men“). This category tends to reward overdue veterans more than any other one, at least most of the time. Lately, they’ve also gone for first time nominees in a big way. Academy members will certainly have that overdue option this time around, though the likely recipient is far younger than our usual overdue contenders, and a first timer, at that. All the more reason to think the frontrunner is unbeatable. This isn’t the category to expect an upset.

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Willem Dafoe is our first man up here, nominated for his work in “The Florida Proect.” He’s now a three time nominee, having previously been cited for supporting turns in “Platoon” and “Shadow of the Vampire.” Dafoe is the second place finisher here, in all likelihood, and at one point seemed like an early favorite. Alas, while he did very well with critics groups, the bigger precursors set him way back. He’ll probably still end up the main runner up, but we never know if that’s the case. For what it’s worth, if somehow there’s an upset, he’d be the beneficiary. Don’t bet on it though. The third time will not be the charm for Dafoe.

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Next up is Woody Harrelson, also looking at nomination number three for his career. This supporting citation for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” pairs with a supporting nod for “The Messenger” as well as a lead citation for “The People vs. Larry Flynt.” The winner in Best Supporting Actor is going to come from this film, but it won’t be Harrelson. You could make the case that he might even be the least likely winner of the lot, though that’s kind of irrelevant. Harrelson might take some votes away from his co-star, but not nearly enough to matter. Interestingly, 2017 was thought to be his year to win, considering all of his baity roles. Go figure, he ended up nominated for one that most weren’t predicting to be his baby, and it won’t even come close to factoring into the final decision. He’ll have to wait for that overdue win.

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We turn now to Richard Jenkins, nominated for “The Shape of Water.” This is his second dance with Oscar, as he previously had a Best Actor citation for “The Visitor.” Like with that first nom, he’s a long shot to win and more or less has no chance. Consider it a “happy to be there” nomination. This tap by voters shows how respected a character actor he is and sets him up to potentially be a future winner, but it won’t be happening here. He’s at best the fourth seed. Jenkins may very well take a statue soon, but the 90th Academy Awards will see him go home empty handed.

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Christopher Plummer is our fourth nominated gentleman here, representing the only previous winner of the lot. Another three time nominee, he’s been in the Best Supporting Actor category prior to this for the aforementioned “Beginners” (where he won) and “The Last Station.” If there’s a dark horse to be found, it might be Plummer. After all, he replaced Kevin Spacey in “All the Money in the World” literally at the last minute and filmed his scenes in only slightly longer than it takes to read this article. The respect being given to him for this work is well founded. Some voters may want to make a statement and vote for him. Most likely, it won’t be enough to put Plummer anywhere close to the top. Had he pulled a precursor upset, then maybe this could be realistic. Suffice to say, whether you want to put Plummer ahead of Dafoe or behind, they’re still coming up short to our next nominee.

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Sam Rockwell is our last nominee here, and of course, is the far and away frontrunner in the category. A first time nominee, he finds himself about to win an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Snubbed for work like “Moon,” he’s finally getting his moment in the sun. Rockwell is among the names always thrown out in pieces on who deserves a nomination or an award, so while his performance is divisive, in a divisive movie, it’s also in the possible Best Picture frontrunner. Factor in how he’s dominated the precursors of most note and you have an almost unbeatable contender. No matter how you slice it, this is Rockwell’s to lose and he’s almost assuredly not losing. The next time you see his name in an ad, it’s going to include “Academy Award Winner” next to it.

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If you’re feeling desperate to not consider this Oscar category a foregone conclusion (which it is), you can say that the race is between Dafoe and Rockwell. That’s being very generous though, just know that. Nothing out there suggests anyone but Rockwell winning, so keep any upset expectations in check. Regardless of if you’re a fan of Rockwell’s turn here or not, he’s long been someone many have hoped would win an Academy Award one day. As such, take comfort in that, as he’s not only gotten his first nomination, he’s going to take home the Best Supporting Actor prize too. It’s a done deal.

Prediction: Sam Rockwell for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Snubbed: Steve Carell (“Battle of the Sexes“), Armie Hammer (“Call Me By Your Name“), Mark Rylance (“Dunkirk“), Patrick Stewart (“Logan“), and Michael Stuhlbarg (“Call Me By Your Name”)

WHAT DO YOU THINK? WHICH BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR WILL WIN THE OSCAR, AND WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO PULL THE UPSET? LET US HERE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!