If you’ve spent any time cataloging the patterns of the Academy Awards (and you probably have, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this), you’ve likely noticed by now that Oscar voters prefer to award young women and old men for their acting skills. This is why it would be particularly noteworthy if Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee were to be nominated for — and win — the award for Best Supporting Actor for his breakout performance in Jane Campion’s acclaimed film “The Power of the Dog.” At just 25 years, 287 days old on the day of the ceremony, he would be the second youngest person to ever win the category.
The road to the top might take some work though. Smit-McPhee, who is competing alongside his co-star Jesse Plemons, is currently in fourth place in Gold Derby’s combined odds at 10/1, with four Experts predicting him to triumph. Plemons sits just above him in third place with 9/1 odds. They both trail “The Humans’” Richard Jenkins — who is a two-time nominee and has the support of six Experts, contributing to his first place odds — and Bradley Cooper, whose performance in “Licorice Pizza” currently has him in second place. Rounding out the top five is former winner Jared Leto, who stars in “House of Gucci.”
Should he prevail, Smit-McPhee will follow in the footsteps of Timothy Hutton, who remains the youngest supporting actor winner and the youngest man to win either acting category. He was 20 years and 227 days old when he triumphed for his performance in “Ordinary People” way back in 1981. Admittedly, that is not that young by normal standards, but by Oscar standards for men, he was basically a baby. The current next youngest winner in the category is George Chakiris, who was 27 years, 205 days old when he won for his turn in “West Side Story” in 1962. (For comparison’s sake, Tatum O’Neal was an actual child at 10 years, 148 days old when she won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “Paper Moon” in 1974.)
In “The Power of the Dog,” which is set in 1920s Montana, Smit-McPhee portrays Peter, the teenage son of a widow (Kirsten Dunst) who comes between two brothers played by Plemons and Benedict Cumberbatch. Early reviews of the movie — which debuted in September at the Venice Film Festival — praised the film, with many calling out Smit-McPhee’s phenomenal performance specifically. Five of the last 10 winners of Best Supporting Actor were also first-time acting nominees, so it’s not all that hard to imagine that Smit-McPhee could potentially be among them come March.
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