Ever since “The Life of Emile Zola” became the first film to win Oscars for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (Joseph Schildkraut) in 1938, occurrences of films receiving nominations in both categories have been rather common. Of the 511 features that have contended for the top honor since the supporting awards were first bestowed 86 years ago, 194 (38%) have had at least one performance by a featured male cast member recognized as well. In that time, the double victory initiated by “The Life of Emile Zola” has been replicated by 16 more films, from “How Green Was My Valley” (Donald Crisp, 1942) to “Green Book” (Mahershala Ali, 2019).
A fair amount of these nearly 200 performances were considered surprise nominees. Some actors, such as Max von Sydow (“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” 2012) and Jonah Hill (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” 2014) were previously thought of as longshots after missing major precursors, while others, like LaKeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah,” 2021), truly came from out of the blue. Since all three of these men appeared in Best Picture contenders, they are generally classified as coattail nominees.
As this year’s nominations announcement quickly approaches, the possibility of there being new surprise supporting male competitors tied to the Best Picture category is certainly worth examining.
This year, the academy will choose exactly 10 Best Picture nominees as they did in 2010 and 2011 before implementing a rule change that allowed anywhere from five to 10 contenders per year. According to our odds, the current leader of the pack is “The Power of the Dog,” followed in order by “Belfast,” “West Side Story,” “Dune,” “Licorice Pizza,” “King Richard,” “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “tick, tick… BOOM!,” and “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”
Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”) is out front in our Best Supporting Actor race. His four most likely challengers are Troy Kotsur (“CODA”), Ciarán Hinds (“Belfast”), Jared Leto (“House of Gucci”), and Jamie Dornan (“Belfast”). Smit-McPhee, Kotsur, and Leto (whose film holds the 13th slot on our Best Picture list) are all up for the prestigious Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice Association Awards, while the “Belfast” pair missed individual SAG bids but landed in the CCA lineup.
Right outside of our top five is Bradley Cooper, whose recent SAG recognition for “Licorice Pizza” gave him a significant boost. His film is also performing well in other above-the-line races, as we expect Paul Thomas Anderson to be nominated for Best Director and win Best Original Screenplay for it. Cooper’s Oscars resume consists of eight nominations in four different categories, including one for his supporting turn in “American Hustle” (2014). Since he is widely considered overdue for a win and his film appears to be a sure Best Picture nominee, he has the best shot at displacing one of the main five.
Our supporting male top 10 includes two more actors whose films are high on our Best Picture list: Mike Faist (“West Side Story,” seventh) and Jesse Plemons (“The Power of the Dog,” ninth). Both potential first-timers have missed the major precursors so far, but could make it in out of general love for their films, each of which we expect will net at least nine bids. It is also a good sign that their respective costars, Ariana DeBose and Smit-McPhee, happen to be sitting atop the supporting lists.
Rounding out the top 10 are SAG nominee Ben Affleck (“The Tender Bar,” eighth) and CCA contender J.K. Simmons (“Being the Ricardos,” 10th), whose films rank 54th and 15th on our Best Picture list.
Among our top 15 supporting males is one more potential surprise nominee of this kind: Corey Hawkins (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”). He presently holds the 13th position on our list, and we expect his film to collect bids for Best Actor (Denzel Washington), Best Cinematography, and Best Production Design in addition to one for Best Picture.
Richard Jenkins (“The Humans”), Jason Isaacs (“Mass”), Alex Wolff (“Pig”), and Jeffrey Wright (“The French Dispatch”) fill out the remaining slots in the top 15, but their films all rank outside of our Best Picture 15.
Other supporting actors who appear in our top 20 and whose films are in our Best Picture top 10 are Robin de Jesús (“tick, tick… BOOM!,” 16th), Jon Bernthal (“King Richard,” 17th), David Alvarez (“West Side Story,” 18th), and Sean Penn (“Licorice Pizza,” 20th). Mark Rylance (“Don’t Look Up”) also has a slight chance at making a surprise appearance in the final lineup, as he currently ranks 24th.
PREDICT the 2022 Oscar nominees through February 8
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