Oscars flashback: J.K. Simmons (‘Whiplash’) has led Supporting Actor race from outset

Ever since we launched our Oscars prediction center in late August, veteran J.K. Simmons has sat atop our chart for Best Supporting Actor for his scene-stealing turn as a manipulative maestro in Damien Chazelle‘s “Whiplash.” Three of the other top five — all of whom have been nominated in this category before — have been in contention all along. However, the fifth slot has shifted from a one-time nominee to a past Oscar champ.

To compare the state of this race at various points in time, go to this page, scroll down and click any two dates (after Aug. 22) on the calendars. You will see what our Experts were predicting to prevail on each date. And be sure to click on the different categories on the left-hand side of the page to see the changes in those races as well.

 All five of the fellows we are forecasting to be nominated are in contention for the three key precursor prizes: the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards. That support has solidifed the  standings of the first four predicted Oscar nominees and boosted the fifth into contention. 

Mark Ruffalo lost his 2010 bid for “The Kids Are All Right” to Christian Bale (“The Fighter”). This time around he is likely to reap a nomination for his work in Bennett Miller‘s “Foxcatcher,” a dark drama about millionaire John DuPont (Steve Carell) and his deadly obsession with Olympic wrestlers Mark and Dave Shultz (played by Channing Tatum and Ruffalo respectively). While the film was a hit with critics, it has stalled at the box office and that has dropped him from second to fourth place.

Despite having a sizeable supporting role in “Training Day” back in 2001, Ethan Hawke was bested by Jim Broadbent (“Iris”). This year, he is part of the quartet at the core of Richard Linklater‘s “Boyhood,” our Best Picture frontrunner. However, he has been stuck in third place all season long despite “Boyhood” amassing a slew of prizes, including top film of the year from both the Gotham and LA film critics. Hawkes and Linklater (along with Julie Delpy) reaped bids in the Adapted Screenplay race for “Before Sunset” (2004) and “Before Midnight” (2013), losing to “Sideways” and “12 Years a Slave” respectively. 

Oscars flashback: Steve Carell led Best Actor race, Jake Gyllenhaal not even in contention

Edward Norton contended in this category for his film debut in the 1996 crime drama “Primal Fear” but lost to Cuba Gooding, Jr. (“Jerry Maguire”). He was a Best Actor nominee two years later for “American History X” but was bested then by Roberto Benigni (“Life is Beautiful”). Buoyed by the stellar reviews for “Birdman,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s sly satire of stardom, he has risen from fourth to second for his impressive turn as a rival actor to leading man Michael Keaton who leads our Best Actor chart.  

Albert Brooks was fourth on our list back in August for his turn in J.C. Chandor‘s “A Most Violent Year.” While the film earned respectful reviews, the focus of those has been on Jessica Chastain. As such, Brooks is looking less likely to finally earn a bookend to his 1987 bid for “Broadcast News” (he lost back then to Sean Connery for “The Untouchables”) and he has slipped down to eighth place.

Oscars flashback: Amy Adams led Best Actress race, Julianne Moore not even in contention

Replacing him in the top five is Robert Duvall for his work as the title character in “The Judge.” While this Robert Downey, Jr. vehicle failed to take off with critics or audiences, Duvall, a three-time contender in this category, won the second of his two Best Actor races back in 1983 for “Tender Mercies.”

Up a notch to sixth place is Tom Wilkinson for his ucanny incarnation of Lyndon Johnson in Ava DuVernay‘s  searing “Selma.” This British thespian lost his 2007 supporting bid for “Michael Clayton” to Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”). 

First among the longshots with odds of 100/1 is Japanese pop star Miyavi, who makes his film debut in Angelina Jolie‘s “Unbroken” as the commandant of a POW camp who takes particular delight in torturing   Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell). 

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in all 24 categories

Who do you think is going to win Best Supporting Actor? Make your predictions below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. 

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