Third time the charm: Richard Jenkins (‘The Humans’) has best Oscar odds in tight supporting actor race

The third time might be the charm for Richard Jenkins, a two-time Oscar nominee who is the current front-runner to win Best Supporting Actor for “The Humans,” according to the combined predictions of thousands of Gold Derby readers. This comes as momentum starts to shift between two actors from another film, “The Power of the Dog.”

Jenkins gets leading odds of 5/1, with eight of the Expert journalists we’ve surveyed betting on him to win: Joyce Eng (Gold Derby), Matthew Jacobs, Susan King (Gold Derby), Michael Musto (Queerty), Christopher Rosen (Gold Derby), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), and Susan Wloszczyna (Gold Derby).

“The Humans” is based on the play of the same name, which ran on Broadway from 2016 to 2017. Jenkins plays Erik Blake, the patriarch of a family that gathers for Thanksgiving in his daughter’s Chinatown apartment in New York City. That’s the same role that won Reed Birney the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play, so Jenkins already has that precedent on his side; interestingly, Jenkins could be nominated for the Oscar against Birney, who may contend for his role in “Mass.”

Also helping Jenkins is the fact that the academy often loved to award journeyman character actors. Consider past Best Supporting Actor winners like Jim Broadbent (“Iris”), Chris Cooper (“Adaptation”), J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”), and Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight” and “Green Book“). And Jenkins has already proved his mettle with the academy, earning a breakthrough Best Actor nomination for “The Visitor” (2008) followed by a Best Supporting Actor bid for “The Shape of Water” (2017). So he may be considered due for the recognition.

Jenkins has supplanted Jesse Plemons (“The Power of the Dog“) at the top of our odds, but that doesn’t mean we should count out Plemons or the film. After that film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in early September, some of the attention shifted to Plemons’s young co-star Kodi Smit-McPhee, who is now knocking on the door in sixth place as of this writing, with two Experts predicting his victory.

That’s a reminder that the Oscar race will be in flux for quite a while, but the reviews for “The Humans” out of the Toronto International Film Festival were positive, with Jenkins described as bringing “a heartbreaking pathos” to his role. So he’ll clearly be one to watch as the season progresses.

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