2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor (Updated November 6, 2017)

The Best Supporting Oscar is often awarded to a veteran who has been overlooked by the academy in the past. As with the award for leading men, the winner of this race is usually one of the more seasoned competitors. Last year, journeyman actor Mahershala Ali won for “Moonlight.” Among those that this 43-year-old TV veteran edged out were 20-year-old newcomer Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Dev Patel, 27, who reaped his first Oscar bid for “Lion.” (Scroll down for the most up-to-date predictions for this year’s Best Supporting Actor race.)

While Ali was featured in only a few scenes in “Moonlight,” they were pivotal ones. Conversely, Hedges’ character was at the center of the story and he could well have contended in lead alongside co-star Casey Affleck, who won the Best Actor award. Likewise, Patel was only seen in the second half of “Lion” but it was devoted to his character.

The other two nominees were both cited for playing law enforcement officials: Michael Shannon, for his scene-stealing turn in “Nocturnal Animals” and Jeff Bridges in “Hell or High Water.” Shannon, a respected theater actor, burst onto the scene in 2008 with a pivotal part in “Revolutionary Road” for which he reaped his first Oscar nomination. Bridges has contended a record four times in this category and, had he not won Best Actor in 2009 for “Crazy Heart,” would have all but certain to finally prevail.

Bridges would have been the 12th winner of this award to be in his 60s. Only four Best Supporting Actor champs were in their 20s and just 14 were thirtysomething. Conversely, 29 of the 81 winners to date were in their 40s and a lucky 13 were in their 50s. For eight men, it took till they were in their 70s to win while two (George Burns for “The Sunshine Boys” and Christopher Plummer for “Beginners”) were north of 80 when they took home their their only Oscars.

Please note: Only those films with confirmed release dates are listed below. Check back often as new contenders are scheduled while other are dropped due to delays or critical reaction. Several contenders are also included in the Best Actor round-up, pending confirmation of campaign strategies.

UPDATED: November 6, 2017

Leading Contenders
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project” (A24)

Idris Elba, “Molly’s Game” (STX Entertainment)

Colin Farrell, “Roman Israel, Esq.” (Columbia)

Laurence Fishburne, “Last Flag Flying” (Amazon Studios)

Harrison Ford, “Blade Runner 2049” (Warner Bros./Columbia Pictures/Alcon Entertainment)

Armie Hammer, “Call Me By Your Name” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Ben Mendelsohn, “Darkest Hour” (Universal Studios/Focus Features)

Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Mark Rylance, “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.)

Patrick Stewart, “Logan” (20th Century Fox)

Michael Stuhlbarg, “Call Me By Your Name” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Mark Wahlberg, “All the Money in the World” (Tristar)

Christoph Waltz, “Downsizing”(Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures)

Strong Contenders
Steve Carell, “Last Flag Flying” (Amazon Studios)

Kevin Costner, “Molly’s Game” (STX Entertainment)

Colin Farrell, “The Beguiled” (Focus Features/Gramercy Pictures)

Ali Fazal, “Victoria and Abdul” (Focus Features)

Richard Graham, “Phantom Thread” (Annapurna Pictures/Focus Features)

Garrett Hedlund, “Mudbound” (Netflix)

Tom Hollander, “Breathe” (Bleecker Street/Participant Media)

Kevin Kline, “Beauty and the Beast” (Walt Disney Pictures)

John Lithgow, “Beatriz at Dinner” (Roadside Attractions)

Jason Mitchell, “Mudbound” (Netflix)

Will Poulter, “Detroit” (Annapurna Pictures)

Ray Romano, “The Big Sick” (Amazon Studios)

Michael Shannon, “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight Picture)

Michael Stuhlbarg, “The Post” (20th Century Fox)

Possible Contenders
Sterling K. Brown, “Marshall” (Open Road Films)

Sam Claflin, “My Cousin Rachel” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Daniel Craig, “Logan Lucky” (Bleecker Street/FilmNation Entertainment)

Zac Efron,“The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox)

Topher Grace, “Under the Silver Lake” (A24)

Tom Hardy, “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.)

Woody Harrelson , “The Glass Castle” (Lionsgate)

Ethan Hawke, “Maudie” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight Picture)

Ronald Pickup, “Darkest Hour” (Universal Studios/Focus Features)

Chris Pine, “Wonder Woman” (Warner Bros.)

Charlie Plummer, “All the Money in the World” (Tristar)

Justin Timberlake, “Wonder Wheel” (Amazon Studios)

Jean-Louis Tringnant, “Happy End” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Owen Wilson, “Wonder” (Lionsgate)

UPDATED: October 31, 2017

Among the veterans who could finally be recognized this year is Harrison Ford for his featured performance in “Blade Runner 2049.” He headlined the 1982 original and his return in a supporting role could earn this one-time nominee (“Witness,” 1985) another bid, in the same way that “Rocky” leading man Sylvester Stallone contended for reprising the character in “Creed” two years ago.

Stallone lost that race to Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”), who has a showy part in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster WWII epic “Dunkirk.” The recently knighted Rylance could well join the six fellows who have matching Best Supporting Actor Oscar bookends. One of those half dozen double dippers is Christoph Waltz (“Inglorious Basterds,” “Django Unchained”) who would tie Walter Brennan‘s record were he to prevail this year for his showy role in Alexander Payne‘s “Downsizing.”

Willem Dafoe contended in this category back in 1986 for his role in the Best Picture “Platoon” and again in 2000 for “Shadow of the Vampire.” This well-respected character actor was the talk of the Cannes filmfest for his work as a beleaguered motel manager in Sean Baker‘s “The Florida Project.”

Thirteen years after reaping a Best Actor bid for his showy role in “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” Woody Harrelson was nominated in 2009 for his subdue supporting turn in “The Messenger.” He has two roles this year that merit consideration: a wayward father in “The Glass Castle” and a shoddy sheriff in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

And several other one-time leading men could earn their first Oscar nominations for featured roles, including Colin Farrell (“Roman Israel, Esq.”), Idris Elba (“Molly’s Game”) and Patrick Stewart (“Logan”).

In the coming weeks and months, we will be predicting all 24 of the competitive categories at the Oscars.

Best Picture | Best Director | Best Original Screenplay | Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Actor | Best Actress | Best Supporting Actor | Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography | Best Costume Design | Best Film Editing | Best Production Design
Best Makeup & Hairstyling | Best Sound Editing | Best Sound Mixing | Best Visual Effects
Best Original Score | Best Original Song
Best Animated Feature | Best Documentary Feature | Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Short | Best Documentary Short | Best Live-Action Short

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