2019 Oscars Look: Best Supporting Actor


Welcome to our annual Oscar Look series, formally known as “Oscar Circuit” – our deep dive look into each and every category that will be presented at the upcoming Academy Awards.  Each writer of AwardsCircuit.com will tackle a different category, offering up their own perspectives on those specific races.  If you miss a piece, click on the tag titled Oscar Look 2018. You can also see the official Oscar Predictions for that particular race by clicking on the link here or at the bottom of each article.  Make sure to include your own predicted winners in the comment section too!

And the nominees are:

  • Mahershala Ali, “Green Book” (Universal Pictures)
  • Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman” (Focus Features)
  • Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born” (Warner Bros.)
  • Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
  • Sam Rockwell, “Vice” (Annapurna Pictures)


Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Nominee: Mahershala Ali
Oscar Scene: The lesson on writing a letter

As the season has gone on, Mahershala Ali has seen his turn in “Green Book” become a Best Supporting Actor juggernaut. Just two short years ago, Ali turned his first nomination into a win in this same category for a breakthrough performance in “Moonlight.” Now, he’s run the table and is only days away from taking home his second Oscar. The best part of his movie, his quiet dignity shines through opposite Viggo Mortensen, though it’s a little odd to see this be as easy a win for him as it has been. He’s not undeserving of being a two time winner, but Ali is doing it faster than just about anyone ever has. That’s interesting, to say the least. Barring a surprising upset, which no one should be banking on, Ali’s performance as Dr. Donald Shirley is going to be cited with an Academy Award.

Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”

Nominee: Adam Driver
Oscar Scene: Revealing what the case has made him reconsider

Adam Driver didn’t seem like a probable nominee before awards season began. Then, the precursors cited him again and again. Before long, he seemed like a safe nominee, if not a likely winner. It’s a strange situation to see the actor get his first nomination for a performance everyone agrees has no chance to win, especially when his track record during the season is unimpeachable. Even more oddly, Driver made it in when his co-star John David Washington did not. The award count for “BlacKkKlansman” is going to be one of the more fascinating aspects of Oscar night, but Driver won’t be contributing to it. His rock solid work in the film is part of the marrow that makes it as sturdy as it is, but he’s destined for a hard fourth-place finish.

Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”

Nominee: Sam Elliott
Oscar Scene: Bobby backing up out of the driveway

At long last, veteran actor Sam Elliott is an Oscar nominee. Last year, he delivered the performance of his career with “The Hero,” then nearly topped it here with a scene-stealing role in “A Star Is Born.” Two of the most emotional moments of the film involve him. His character of Bobby Maine shares a devastating drive with Bradley Cooper‘s Jackson Maine, his brother. It ends with a confession from Jackson, followed by Bobby driving away. The look in his eyes absolutely wrecks you. Then, later on we see Lady Gaga‘s Ally get a very important bit of information from him. How anyone doesn’t cry during it is a wonder. All of this would suggest that Elliott would be the frontrunner in Best Supporting Actor. However, aside from a National Board of Review win, he’s come up short everywhere else. Some hold out hope for an upset win on Oscar night, but you can make the case he’s not even the main alternative. If votes could be seen, he’d likely end up with a third-place finish, ultimately.

Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Nominee: Richard E. Grant
Oscar Scene: His introduction to Lee

There’s a palpable joy to be found when you watch a character actor seize a plum supporting gig. Richard E. Grant gives the sort of performance in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” that the Best Supporting Actor category was built for. A two-hander with Melissa McCarthy, Grant’s charm is intoxicating. Voters have now given him his first ever nomination, and for a little while, it seemed like he could end up the one they gave the Oscar to as well. However, he never made his move to get into the pole position. Without a big win, he lacks the juice. Much like Elliott, he had a moment where it seemed like he could have made the jump. It never happened though, and he’ll fall short. That being said, if there’s a presumed second-place finisher, it does seem like in the end, it would have been him. At least this bold and vivid performance was properly cited.

Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Nominee: Sam Rockwell
Oscar Scene: Asking Dick Cheney to be on his ticket

Last year’s winner in the category for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Sam Rockwell is back again to compete in Best Supporting Actor. This time, however, he’s far and away the least likely to emerge with an Oscar. In fact, for someone who was long overdue for Academy Award recognition, this second nomination for “Vice” has been met with, at best, indifference. Rockwell’s take on President George W. Bush falls deep into the shadow of Christian Bale‘s Vice President Dick Cheney. This feels like what we’ve in the past called an “afterglow” nomination. Rockwell having a second citation is an overall plus, but he’s coming in fifth place here, so there’s the definite sense that the slot could have gone to a first-timer.

WILL WIN: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

POTENTIAL SHOCKER: Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

SHOULD WIN: Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Robert Forster, “What They Had” and Michael B. Jordan, “Black Panther”

Who do you think will win the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role? And who should win? Comment below and share your thoughts!