Oscar History

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Supporting Actor, Personal Ballot

I'm still debating Oscar's fifth slot free-for-all for Best Supporting Actor, presuming they give two spots to leading men Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins) and Dev Patel (Lion) and another two spots are held by former Oscar winner Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water) and the man I'd argue is still the frontrunner to win despite his Golden Globe loss Mahershara Ali (Moonlight). Unfortunately almost all of my favorites are quite far out of the running this year. But my final predictions will have to wait until tomorrow. For now, it's my turn. Meaning: my ballot! Mine. Mine. Mine. 

...and I do feel possessive each year about movie honors. If you're reading I presume that you, too, care deeply about acting as an artform. It can be frustrating each season to watch dozens of worthy performances winnowed down so swiftly into 5-10 Oscar potentials. So many trickily performed, gorgeously nuanced, and admirable feats of acting get lost along the way... though some happily stand the test of time and become "how did HE/SHE not get nominated?" curiousities. I don't try to be off consensus in my own awards but sometimes it works out that way. For my own shortlist, only one of the presumed Oscar players makes it. Looking over the list I've realized that all of these characters would surely be insufferable to spend actual time with but they were played by five actors so rich, every second spent with them was something to treasure. So here's to Tom Bennett, Ralph Fiennes, Mahershara Ali, Trevante Rhodes, and Alden Ehrenhreich! You can read the write ups here at the Film Bitch Awards.

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Reader Comments (34)

Even you didn't mention my favourite of the Moonlight men, Andre Holland. That man slipped under everyone's radar this year. (Otherwise, love your list! Much closer to mine than the eventual Oscar lineup.)

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

My five would be Tom Bennett (Love and Friendship), Billy Crudup (20th Century Women), Ben Foster, André Holland and Peter Simonischek (questionable category placement I know).

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I'd include

I loved VINCENT CASSEL in Xavier Dolan's "It's Only the End of the World" but the film doesn't seem to be on the Academy's eligibility list. So I'll give that slot to KYLE CHANDLER for his superlative, heartfelt work in "Manchester by the Sea"

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen

Wow, AMAZING choices this year, Nathaniel. So close to my ballot, including the runners up. Such a rich year for this category.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWinnie

Good list - Goodman should be higher though at least he is mentioned. Great genre performances tend to be remembered/rewatched a lot but rarely recognized at first.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

Great choices! Sadly, I had to pump Mahershara Ali and Michael Shannon when I saw 20th Century Women and Silence this week.

Tom Bennett, Love & Friendship
Billy Crudup, 20th Century Women
Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar!
Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight
Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Silence

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDevin D

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Shia LaBeouf, American Honey
Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash
André Holland, Moonlight
Tom Bennett, Love & Friendship
Alden Ehrenreich, Hail Caesar!

I have Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes in lead.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Isn't Ali the Thomas Haden Church of this season?

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I love this. Great to see Alden Ehrenreich in your lineup; he's my number one (I've not seen MOONLIGHT yet).

Tom Bennett was also brilliant in DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD, a bit of a 'meh' film, but his sad clown character was full of yearning pathos.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

Emma - Oh my God, I never realised that Tom Bennett was THAT guy. I haven't seen 'Love & Friendship' but it's so weird to know that the actor Nat has been praising all year is the guy from 'Phoneshop' (an inconsequential British sitcom from a couple of years ago).

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterThe Jack

@The Jack:

Iknorite! The fact that Nat (probably) didn't know of Phoneshop's existence makes the praise he's been giving Bennett feel even more rewarding. :')

It's great when talented British actors get kudos for their hard work, free from any kind of pre-knowledge about their previous body of work.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

I still don't understand how Tom Bennett failed to catch on with awards bodies.

And Fiennes too, - though I can imagine his film is too irritating (ie. unconventional) for many industry awards voters.

Either way it's impossible for me to decide which of them gave the more astonishing performance this year and they both belong on every ballot.

As does Ehrenreich. I can't comment on your other two nominees since Moonlight doesn't open in the UK FOR ANOTHER MONTH!! (Thanks distributors! Very strategic positioning considering the film is already available to download illegally online. Grrr)

(Not that I would EVER endorse downloading it online, obviously)

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Trevante Rhodes may be the sexiest actor to come along in years. Sigh.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

You can just fill the supporting actor slots with the actors from Moonlight. It's like this year's Spotlight: all fine-tuned performances working so well with one another.

Critics' groups go for Mahershala Ali, you added Trevante Rhodes, but my personal favorite is Ashton Sanders. Such bruised, aching performance that works so well in his chapter, giving a gripping continuum of Hibbert's and Rhodes' performances.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

As usual we are very much in agreement. Terrific choices. The only name that I find to be a glaring omission to your ballot and runners up is Jack Reynor as the frustrated older brother in Sing Street. His "I used to be a fucking jet engine!" has stuck with me all year. Bumps the movie to a new level of depth with a single line reading.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.

Your list is my list, except switch out Trevante for Lucas Hedges. Rhodes, Ineson, Henderson, and Jack Reynor (Sing Street) are runners-up.

This was a weirdly good year for Supporting Actors, in that the ones that were good were GREAT, there just weren't a whole lot of them. And of course the awardage has not included most of them.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

I think Ehrenreich and Fiennes may be my two favorite performances of the year, and it's very rare for my two favorite performances to come from this category. Both are so good! Anyway, my ballot would be...

Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar!
Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash
Tracy Letts, Indignation
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Craig Robinson, Morris from America

Morris from America is apparently not Academy-eligible, so if I had to replace Robinson for an entirely Academy-eligible ballot, I'd go with Andre Holland for Moonlight.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

My ballot would be:
Ralph Fiennes - A Bigger Splash
Alden Ehrenreich - Hail Caesar!
Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
Liam Neeson - Silence
Jeff Bridges - Hell or High Water

Oscar prediction: replace Fiennes and Ehrenreich with Patel and Grant.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

Alden Ehrenreich for the win! Fiennes is lead for me.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane and James McAvoy in Split are this decade's Robert Shaw in Jaws. They'll never be nominated despite their brilliance in genre movies.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCash

Bennett is also one of the best things in Mascots, so let's hope he gets lots more work since awardage wasn't in the cards.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Great picks... so difficult to choose 1 or 2 names from Moonlight! My personal favourite was Holland. My ballot would be:


With Ali, Bennett and Glen Powell (EWS!!) as runners up.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSid

My five:
Andre Holland
Michael Barbieri
Tom Bennett
Glen Powell
Jovan Adepo

(Fiennes and Rhodes are in my top 5 for lead)

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjake d

Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
Lucas Hedges - Manchester by the Sea
Liam Neeson - Silence
Jeff Bridges - Hell or High Water
Michael Shannon - Nocturnal Animals

I wanted to nominate all the actors portraying Chiron in Moonlight, because it didn't feel right to single any of them out and leave any out--they are all THAT GOOD. So I ended up not nominating any, and it still doesn't feel right. A true dilemma.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Yay! so glad Rhodes made the list! I also like Fiennes and Ali but I was already pretty sure they'd make it.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Considering Viola's placement, i still believe Fiennes is a LEAD in his film.
Also Goodman and Forster and Patel.
Bridges could be lead, but i'm ok with supporting.
Grant is a lead who feels supporting... and is hurt by this fact.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDoug

No Issey Ogata?

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I believe you are really underestimating Aaron Taylor-Johnson's possibilities to pull an upset nomination. You placed him at number 15 on your list. He won the GG and was nominated for the BAFTA. That's more than can be said of Fiennes, Foster, Shannon, Henderson and Sarsgaard, which you have placed on the second tier.
I'm not saying he WILL be nominated, because your line-up is excellent (it's the SAG line-up). But IMO he is higher on the list.

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Alden Ehrenreich is so handsome. :D

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

1. Simon Helberg - Florence Foster Jenkins
2. Sunny Pawar - Lion
3. Jovan Adepo - Fences
4. Ralph Fiennes - A Bigger Splash
5. Lucas Hedges - Manchester by the Sea

January 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterken s

1. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
2. Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight
3. Andre Holland, Moonlight
4. Ben Foster, Hell or High Water
5. David Oyelowo, Queen of Katwe
6. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

January 21, 2017 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Marcos -- i hadn't updated the supporting actor page in a month but Aaron has been bumped up to #7

January 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Jonathan -- "no Issey Ogata" -- I did think he and the other Japanese actors gave the best performances in Silence, but he didn't quite make my top twelve, no.

January 21, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Surprised you didn't include Peter Sarsgaard for Jackie. I love Jeff Bridges, but for me the best performance in Hell or High Water (a movie where I don't get the buzz - I felt it was well executed but fell short of being really exceptional) had to be Ben Foster. Hopefully, Oscars will find a way to honor Sarsgaard and Foster soon, as well as Paul Dano. They're too talented to be so under the radar.

I guess I'm the only one who thought Ashton Sanders gave the best performance of the 3 men playing the lead in Moonlight.

Wanted to like Hail Caesar but it was probably my biggest disappointment of the year.

Glad to see you mentioning John Goodman. He's given a lot of great supporting performances over the years that always miss out on awards (Barton Fink, obviously).

I am very with you in feeling Nocturnal Animals was empty trash, and I don't say that lightly.

I loved Manchester, but I didn't think Michelle Williams or Lucas Hedges was deserving of heavy awards consideration. As far as young actors, I thought Lucas Jade Zumann was more real and impressive in 20th than Hedges in Manchester.

January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoe R

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