Top 10 early-bird supporting actress Oscar predictions: Laura Dern (‘Marriage Story’) is perched at No. 1 for now

Frontrunners are already forming for the Oscar Best Supporting Actress race, according to early predictions at Gold Derby. While most films in contention have not yet been released, enough teaser trailers are out there, ranging from “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and “The Irishman” to “Little Women” and “Ford v Ferrari” to provide some sense of what at least feels like a worthy contender. We’ve confirmed category placements with studios or campaigners, but — as awards season veterans know — such labels can change later. And once the fall film fests commence, the standings will likely rapidly shift.

Here are the current top 10 supporting actress picks on the Gold Derby site, in order, as of Aug. 16:

1. Laura Dern (“Marriage Story,” premieres at the Venice film festival): No one does fierce, feisty and whip-smart better than Dern (witness her work on the second season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies”). She plays the crackerjack lawyer who represents Scarlett Johansson‘s TV actress in her contentious divorce case against her playwright husband (Adam Driver). She gets to butt heads with opposing lawyers in the form of a fusty Alan Alda and aggressive Ray Liotta.

Oscar history: Dern was nominated as a lead for her sweet but over-sexed young woman who changes the lives of the family who takes her in as a domestic servant in 1991’s “Rambling Rose.” She earned a supporting slot as Reese Witherspoon’s sickly mother in 2015’s “Wild.

2. Annette Bening (“The Report,” streams on Amazon Prime starting Nov. 29): Senator Diane Feinstein is lucky enough to be brought to life by Bening in this drama about the Senate Intelligence Committee as she looks into the accusations of torture being used by the CIA after the 9/11 attacks. Adam Driver is Congressional staffer Daniel Jones who is tasked to lead the investigation into the brutal interrogation techniques as the White House tries to block the truth from getting out.

Oscar history: Bening’s seductive con woman in 1990’s “The Grifters” was the source of her lone supporting actress nod. She was also nominated for three lead roles including her cheating housewife in 1999’s “American Beauty,” as an aging theater diva whose young lover falls for an ingenue his own age in 2004’s “Being Julia,” and as Julianne Moore’s lesbian partner in the comedy “The Kids Are All Right.”

3. Meryl Streep (“Little Women,” opens Dec. 25): Streep takes on Aunt March, a traditionalist when it comes to minding one’s manners. In Louisa May Alcott’s novel, strong-willed March sister Jo (Saoirse Ronan) works as the rich widow’s companion and takes care of her spoiled lap dog. The two butt heads regularly but, deep down, this dowager does want the best for her four nieces.

Oscar history: Streep has been nominated four times as a supporting actress for 1978’s “The Deer Hunter,” 2002’s “Adaptation” and 2014′ “Into the Woods.” She won for the 1979 divorce drama “Kramer vs. Kramer.”

4. Margot Robbie (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”): Robbie encapsulates starlet Sharon Tate’s natural glow, sweet nature and sense of fun perfectly — especially in the scene in the movie theater when she is watching herself in the 1968 spy comedy “The Wrecking Crew,” starring Dean Martin as Matt Helm. For those who know their Manson Family lore, this is a way to pay homage to this beautiful gifted blonde whose life and career was cut brutally short.

Oscar history: The Aussie actress was nominated for her lead role as disgraced Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding in 2017’s “I, Tonya.”

5. Shuzhen Zhou (“The Farewell”): The Chinese actress is Awkwafina‘s Nai Nai — grandmother — whose terminal cancer diagnosis is kept from her so she can enjoy being in the company of her family as they stage a fake wedding as an excuse to gather together.  Her understated performance defines her  matriarch as a beacon of love, joy, strength and playfulness.

Oscar history: None yet.

6. Scarlett Johansson (“Jojo Rabbit,” premieres at the Toronto film festival): In this World World War II comical satire, Johansson is a German single mother of a misfit lad who attends a  Hitler youth camp and speaks to an imaginary fuhrer. His world goes topsy-turvy when he realizes his mom rebels against nationalism by hiding a Jewish girl in their attic.

Oscar history: Somehow, Johansson has never been nominated.

7. Anna Paquin: “The Irishman,” premieres at the New York Film Festival): The Canadian-born, New Zealand-raised actress plays Peggy, the willful daughter of Robert De Niro‘s mob hitman Frank Sheeran who distances herself from father’s violent profession — fearing what he would do to people who did not do right by her. Instead, she becomes drawn to Al Pacino‘s Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffman instead.

Oscar history: Paquin won a supporting Oscar at age 11 for her performance as Holly Hunter‘s daughter, Flora, making her the second-youngest winner in Oscar history next to 10-year-old Tatum O’Neal who won a supporting trophy for 1973’s “Paper Moon.”

8. Florence Pugh (“Little Women,” opens Dec. 25): The “Lady Macbeth” actress is the youngest March sister, Amy, who is rather full of herself and scorns the ambitions of her tomboyish sibling Jo (Saoirse Ronan) to make a living as a writer. The character, who often is considered the least likable character in the novel,  has no guilt about being materialistic and tries to impress by being a proper lady.

Oscar history: None yet.

9. Janelle Monae (“Harriet,” premieres at the Toronto film festival): The “Hidden Figures” actress who played the first black NASA engineer Mary Jackson helps bring to life another black female pioneer’s story, escaped slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo). She plays Marie, a free black woman who supports the woman who helped others to flee slavery by training Tubman to arm herself against those who would stand in their way.

Oscar history: None yet.

10. Jennifer Hudson (“Cats,” opens Dec. 20): Yes, the first trailer for this big-screen, all-star adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s long-running Broadway musical freaked out the Twitter-verse with its oddly humanoid cat people skittering about the London streets. But if the big-screen musical gets anything right, it is hiring Hudson as feline outcast Grizabella, whose interpretation of the play’s  emotional rollercoaster of a number “Memory” — heard throughout the trailer — was truly a saving grace.

Oscar history: The “American Idol” contestant won a supporting Oscar for her film debut as dynamite diva Effie White in 2006’s “Dreamgirls” by crushing the ultimate Broadway showstopper, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

PREDICT the Oscars nominations; change them until January 13

Be sure to make your Oscar nominee predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on January 13. And join in the fun debate over the 2020 Academy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.


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