Oscars Supporting Actor and Actress Predictions: Will ‘Trial of the Chicago 7’ Hog the Nominations?

Contenders include a mixture of recent Oscar and Emmy winners (Olivia Colman, Mark Rylance) and names voters wouldn’t have known a few months ago (Maria Bakalova, Yuh-Jung Youn)

The Trial of the Chicago 7
"The Trial of the Chicago 7" / Nico Tavernise/ Netflix

Like this year’s Best Actress and Best Actor Oscar races, which we wrote about here, the contenders in the supporting categories are also a mixture of past winners and newcomers. The pool of potential nominees includes past Oscar winners Mark Rylance and Eddie Redmayne and recent Emmy champs Jeremy Strong and Yahya Abdul-Mateen, along with Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Sacha Baron Cohen — and that’s just the cast of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which could completely fill the Best Supporting Actor category and still have people left over. On the Best Supporting Actress side, where “Chicago 7” doesn’t have any real contenders, past winners and nominees Olivia Colman, Saoirse Ronan, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close and Marisa Tomei will all be in the running, alongside names that would have meant little to most voters just a few months ago: Maria Bakalova, Yuh-Jung Youn, Helena Zengel … As with all Oscar categories, the many peculiarities of this year make it very difficult to predict how wide a net voters will cast and how adventurous they’ll be. But here’s how we think the race stands at this point. Best Supporting Actor Looking at all the solid contenders from “The Trial of the Chicago 7,”  this is a case where a little of the juice from the recent and headline-grabbing release of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” could help Sacha Baron Cohen stand out. Still, it’s hard to overlook the malicious evil of Langella’s judge, the eloquent exasperation of Rylance’s lawyer and the wrenching scenes featuring Abdul-Mateen as Black Panther leader Bobby Seale. “One Night in Miami” has a pair of strong contenders of its own, with Leslie Odom Jr. getting the edge over Aldis Hodge because Odom not only has strong dramatic scenes as Sam Cooke, but sings Cooke’s songs as well. As the only professional actor alongside Frances McDormand in “Nomadland,” David Strathairn is perfectly understated — and in Sofia Coppola’s “On the Rocks,” Bill Murray gets to be Bill Murray-esque to a glorious degree. This is another category where Chadwick Boseman could be recognized, this time for his appearance in the flashbacks in “Da 5 Bloods.” Daniel Kaluuya is likely to be in the running for playing Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in the scheduled early-2021 release “Judas and the Black Messiah.” And two actors from “Mank,” Arliss Howard as Louis B. Mayer and Charles Dance as William Randolph Hearst, are the standouts from that historical drama. Top 5: Leslie Odom Jr., “One Night in Miami” (Amazon); Sacha Baron Cohen, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix); David Strathairn, “Nomadland” (Searchlight); Stanley Tucci, “Supernova” (Bleecker Street); Chadwick Boseman, “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix) Watch out for: Bill Murray, “On the Rocks” (A24/Apple); Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix); Mark Rylance, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix); Frank Langella, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) I’m not predicting, I’m lobbying: Rod Lurie’s combat movie “The Outpost” is a pure ensemble film, but you’ll walk away haunted by Caleb Landry Jones’ performance as Medal of Honor winner Ty Michael Carter. Best Supporting Actress At first glance, supporting actress feels like the skimpiest of the acting categories, dominated by Olivia Colman in “The Father” (who essentially gives a co-lead performance with Anthony Hopkins) and Amanda Seyfried in “Mank” (with a true supporting turn). But Saoirse Ronan is an Academy favorite, and she shines in the studiously understated “Ammonite,” while Ellen Burstyn’s searing showcase monologue in “Pieces of a Woman” could land her a nomination all by itself. If the indie “Minari” registers with voters, the scene-stealing Yuh-Jung Youn is a safe bet. Sacha Baron Cohen has been lobbying for Maria Bakalova, who plays his daughter in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” and there’s a decent chance the Academy could be listening, though it’s hardly known for nominating performances like this one. Glenn Close, meanwhile, can never be counted out, and she’s almost unrecognizable (always a plus) in “Hillbilly Elegy.” The rest of the field includes Elizabeth Debicki, one of the few people in “Tenet” who get to talk about feelings rather than abstract concepts; Lily Collins, who might not have enough to do in “Mank”; Marisa Tomei in “The King of Staten Island” and Marsha Stephanie Blake in “I’m Your Woman,” both valuable contributors to their films; and the yet-unseen Dominique Fishback in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Da’Vine Joy Randolph in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” and 12-year-old German powerhouse Helena Zengel in “News of the World.” Top 5: Olivia Colman, “The Father” (Sony Classics); Amanda Seyfried, “Mank” (Netflix); Ellen Burstyn, “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix); Saoirse Ronan, “Ammonite” (Neon); Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari” (A24) Watch out for: Maria Bakalova, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon); Glenn Close, “Hillbilly Elegy” (Netflix); Dominique Fishback, “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Warner Bros.); Priyanka Chopra Jonas, “The White Tiger” (Netflix) ; Elizabeth Debicki, “Tenet” (Warner Bros.) I’m not predicting, I’m lobbying: Yes, “Ammonite” is essentially a two-hander between Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, but the impact that Fiona Shaw has on the film in just a couple of scenes is quietly seismic. Read our assessment of the Best Actor and Best Actress categories here.


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