For the fourth time in five years, the Best Supporting Actor Oscar race features a pair of co-star nominees. Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee earned two of “The Power of the Dog’s” 12 nominations on Tuesday. They are the 21st duo to be nominated together in what is a new Oscar trend after the category went 26 years without co-star nominees.
After “Bugsy” (1991) produced bids for Harvey Keitel and Ben Kingsley, Best Supporting Actor did not see a pair of co-star nominees until 2017’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” fielded Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson. Since then, “The Irishman” (2019) nabbed comeback nominations for Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, and last year, the Oscars tossed in a major curveball when voters nominated Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, who had been campaigned in lead, in supporting. And now we’ve got Plemons and Smit-McPhee. Sometimes when you open the floodgates, it just doesn’t stop.
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Unlike last year when no one saw the double “Judas” noms coming, double supporting actor bids were forecasted earlier in the season — but for another film. “Belfast” stars Ciaran Hinds and Jamie Dornan were regulars in the top five in the odds throughout the majority of the season — really until both of their Screen Actors Guild Awards snubs — but only Hinds was nominated Tuesday along with Troy Kotsur (“CODA”) and former champ J.K. Simmons (“Being the Ricardos”). Dornan dropped to eighth place while Plemons rose to sixth. Smit-McPhee has been a mainstay in the No. 1 spot.
If Smit-McPhee pulls off the win, it’d be the eighth time someone has defeated a co-star in the category and the third time in the last five years. The first seven people to accomplish this are Ben Johnson (1971’s “The Last Picture Show,” over Jeff Bridges), Robert De Niro (1974’s “The Godfather Part II,” over Michael V. Gazzo and Lee Strasberg), Jason Robards (1977’s “Julia,” over Maximilian Schell), Timothy Hutton (1980’s “Ordinary People,” over Judd Hirsch), Jack Nicholson (1983’s “Terms of Endearment,” over John Lithgow ), Rockwell over Harrelson, and Kaluuya over Stanfield.
Just like how Harrelson and Stanfield didn’t hurt Rockwell and Kaluuya, Plemons probably won’t siphon away too many votes from Smit-McPhee, who’s been the frontrunner all season and has more wins than his competitors combined. “The Power of the Dog” has the most acting nominations this year at four, with Benedict Cumberbatch making Best Actor and Kirsten Dunst shortlisted in Best Supporting Actress.
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