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Nathaniel's Ballot: Best Actor / Supporting Actor

'It's not redundant to still be handing out awards after the Oscars as long as the awards themselves aren't the same!' This is what I tell myself as I wrap up the Film Bitch Awards two weeks later than is proper! There's just 3 categories to go now (so we'll be done this week) before we can hold the world's fastest awards ceremony. It involves a behind-the-scenes slapping of gold, silver, and bronze visual designations onto three of the nominees in each category.

Today, we're talking about the men...

Though it was a banner year for female performance, the men weren't half as impressive in 2018. Well, the leading men at least. Supporting actor worthies were everywhere one looked (which made mainstream awards season terribly disappointing for its lack of imagination!). As is tradition, I only allow 12 names for each category (among the nominees, finalists, and semi-finalists) and it was difficult to decide where the supporting men were concerned. If only all 12 could be nominees. Because the 12 supporting performances were so strong, a shout out to all of them, listed here in alpha order. Listed after their names are the honors they received so you can see how sparse the actual spreading of the wealth is despite their being about 50 awards groups now, the number of prizes jumps closer to 100 if you count all the foreign awards and festival honors and specialty organizations, too.

  • Raúl Castillo as "Paps" in We the Animals (Spirit nomination + 1 critics group citation)
  • Russell Crowe as "Marshall Eammons" in Boy Erased (AACTA nomination only)
  • Colman Domingo as "Joseph Rivers" in If Beale Street Could Talk (nothing at all)
  • Sam Elliott as "Bobby Maine" in A Star is Born (OSCAR NOMINATION + many more)
  • Robert Forster as "Bert" in What They Had (AARP nomination only)
  • Hugh Grant as "Phoenix Buchanan" in Paddington 2 (BAFTA nod + 10 critics awards citations)
  • Richard E Grant as "Jack Hock" in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (OSCAR NOMINATION + many more)
  • Russell Hornsby as "Maverick Carter" in The Hate U Give (7 critics group citations)
  • Nicholas Hoult as "Harley" in The Favourite (nothing at all)
  • Michael B Jordan as "Erik Killmonger" in Black Panther (BET, Critics Choice, Saturn, MTV Movie Awards, Teen Choice, Santa Barbara Vanguard Award + 22 critics citations)
  • Alex Wolff as "Peter" in Hereditary (1 horror specific group + 4 critics citations)
  • Steven Yeun as "Ben" in Burning (3 foreign citations, Santa Barbara Virtuoso Award, LAFCA, NSFC, + 11 critics citations) 

Supporting Actor is regularly the category in which my own taste and Oscars diverge most. The Film Bitch nominations and Oscars are almost always 1/5 in this category... though this year it's a smidge more aligned with Sam Elliott and Richard E Grant nominated in both places. The most correlation this decade was 2014 and 2010 -- in both years there was a 3/5 match which is unusual)

Okay enough blabber, check it out:


P.S. We make a big stink about "category fraud" here every year which obscures the fact that we aren't always rigidly furious about this topic. There are a few borderline cases nearly every year where either 'lead' or 'support' is totally defensible and in those cases we don't care at all how an actor is campaigned. For instance I kept changing my mind about whether Alessandro Nivola (Disobedience) and Alex Wolff (Hereditary) were lead or supporting in their movies, and I finally went with Disobedience being a three lead film (like The Favourite) and Hereditary, after a rewatch, being a pure one-lead star vehicle (Toni Collette) but I wouldn't be fussed about other takes. The only reason I've become so rigidly activist about this is all the abuse that Hollywood heaps on supporting actors with their constant bald-face lying about movie stars not really being the stars of the movies they're headlining in order to get them easy citations in a category created to honor character actors. It's such an abuse of the very spirit of why the award was created! If it hadn't become so corrupted we probably wouldn't care about an errant questionable citation here and there. Carry on.


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Reader Comments (34)

Excellent list. Shout-out to Josh Hamilton, Jesse Plemons and Josh Duhamel in "Love, Simon" who went quietly into the night from the moment the reviews were released.

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan (the 1st)

I think Hereditary is a two-hander since our primary focus is on the mother and the son. Whereas the sister/daughter husband/father are merely supporting players.

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

On 2nd viewing I got Gosling a whole lot more and would put him 5 th on my Ballot

Dafoe My Winner
Hedges in Boy Erased


Tyree Henry
Grant My Winner

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Disobedience is definitely a two lead film with Nivola (along with the score the only thing good in the film).

Nivola is outstanding tho. I'd have nominated him.

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

Btw, on Disobedience, I was with it until the big opening up. Went downhill quick, and I still think that sex scene is awful. Funny tho.

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

I went the opposite with Hereditary and Disobedience for my 2018 rankings, with Alex Wolff in lead and Alessandro Nivola in supporting. Both topped their respective categories.

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I’m a bit gobsmacked that Nicholas Hoult didn’t make your final 5! But beautifully explained lists as always

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan

Dig your Supporting Actor choices. But am I just biased/crazy wishing Tim Blake Nelson and Tom Waits had entered the conversation at some point this year?

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDevin D

So happy you recognized Wolff. Has anyone better demonstrated pure terror since Barrymore in 'Scream'?

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

@Devin D, DUDE, I loved Tim Blake Nelson especially (but of course Tom waits too). He was the shit all up and through BoBS. And Nathaniel as always wonderful choices and thanks for posting them. I feel your pain trying to pick between the Favourite ladies even though you havent said anything lol.

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterkris01

Love Nivola but he's definitely supporting.

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLuke

I'll never understand how Russell Crowe flew so under the radar all season. I guess you could say the same for Kidman. Both are so good and so moving in BOY ERASED!

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I loved Nivola's performance but was that really a lead role? The film was mostly about Rachel Weisz's character and her fraught relationship to Rachel McAdams. Nivola was supporting in my own year-end honors but categorization is a minor quibble.

Michael B. Jordan deserves a great more recognition than he's gotten so far. Indeed, I think the Black Panther universe would be far richer had they kept Killmonger alive to continue to confound T'Challa.

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

As usual it's a busy year in supporting categories. Jordan's role is less than the performance, which makes me wanna bump the performance higher, but also limits him. Not really in order.

Richard E. Grant
Rafael Casal
Adam Driver (too good to not look past)
Three Different People in The Death of Stalin
Alessandro Nivola
Michael B. Jordan
Nicholas Hoult
Casey Affleck
Lily Franky (I think he's supporting)

Jude Law
Russell Crowe
Raul Castillo

(Not sure on Sam Elliot)

March 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

Wonderful choices - and not to make you feel to observed, but I actually correctly predicted your lineups (bar category placement on Nivola).

Al Rafeea is so unbelievably superb in Capernaum that I think the fact he didn't break into more acting nomination conversations (even among critics) is a sign of how many people didn't watch Capernaum. For me he might be the performance of the year.

Personal line-ups:

1. Zain Al Rafeea- Capernaum
2. Bradley Cooper- A Star is Born
3. Evan Peters- American Animals
4. Ethan Hawke- First Reformed
5. Daveed Diggs- Blindspotting

Supporting Actor:
1. Richard E. Grant- Can You Ever Forgive Me?
2. Steven Yeun- Burning
3. Josh Hamilton- Eighth Grade
4. Sam Elliot- A Star is Born
5. Nicholas Hoult- The Favourite

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan Dykes

The only name I would add that hasn't been mentioned yet is Daniel Kaluuya in Widows. My list would be:

Richard E. Grant--Can You Ever Forgive Me? (my personal favorite)
Alex Wolff--Hereditary
Daniel Kaluuya--Widows
Michael B Jordan--Black Panther
Josh Hamilton--Eighth Grade

That said, I have not see several of the films mentioned above yet. I really need to see Paddington 2!

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

Huh, I would've thought Wolf was a lead and Nivola was supporting.

I haven't seen CAPHARNAUM yet, but the child performance that got me the most was the young boy from CUSTODY. That entire sequence in the car giving directions is extraordinary.

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I think Crowe soured his relationship in 2001.

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Thank you thank you for mentioning Alex Wolff. I shouldn't have expected Hereditary to get what it deserved during awards season, but it still underperformed in my opinion. Even the independent spirit awards mostly ignored it. Alex Wolff didn't get the credit he deserved.

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Zain Al Rafeea broke my heart, he was simply incredible in Capharnaum.

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel B.

Isn't Alex Wolff a lead actor?

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRon Cruz

My Picks in Actor, in order:
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Robert Redford, The Old Man and the Gun
Jonathan Pryce, The Wife

My Picks in Supporting Actor, in order:
Steven Yeun, Burning
Josh Hamilton, Eighth Grade
Ari Worthalter, Girl
Daniel Kaluuya, Widows
Colman Domingo, If Beale Street Could Talk

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Actor: Ryan Gosling/First Man, Viggo Mortensen/Green Book, Lucas Hedges Boy Erased and/or Ben Is Back, John C. Reilly/Stan and Ollie, Steve Coogan/Stan and Ollie

Supporting Actor: Bruce Dern/Chappaquiddick, Simon Russell Beale/The Death of Stalin, Richard E. Grant/Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Sebastian Koch/Never Look Away, Steve Buscemi/The Death of Stalin

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

You are talking about doing the fastest awards ceremony this year, but how about finish the longest? Your 2011 awards are still missing winners in some categories like director actor And screenplay.

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCanadian13

Even when I don't agree with your choices, I always love your write-ups. My cause célèbres all year round were Charlie Plummer for Lean on Pete in Best Actor and Philip Ettinger for First Reformed in Best Supporting Actor. Under sung performances right there!

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Robert Forster was absolutely devastating.

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

Philip Ettinger made Nat's line-up in the limited performance/cameo category.

The one performance I would note that hasn't been mentioned yet is Cedric Kyles in First Reformed. I thought he was great, especially in the scene where he swivels his chair away from Hawke.

My picks:

Supporting Actor:
1. Hugh Grant
2. Richard E. Grant
3. Sam Elliott
4. Cedric Kyles
5. Josh Hamilton
(Still haven't seen Burning!)

Best Actor:
1. Ethan Hawke
2. Bradley Cooper
3. Robert Redford
4. John David Washington
5. Ben Foster

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I found Tomasz Kot in Cold War spectacular, he sold the minimalistic part, the cloistered feelings, the despair, the love... all with an old hollywood superstar charisma, panache and face.

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLuiserghio

Alex Wolff is so leading in Hereditary.

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHarmodio

Your supporting actor line-up would've been perfect had you replaced the two Oscar nominated performances with any of your finalists or semi-finalists. Even though I thought the movie was forgettable, Sam Elliott was solid in A Star Is Born but just that and Grant was quite terrible in Can You Ever Forgive Me? and I absolutely loved the movie.

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

did no one see tte sisters brothers? such a fantastic group of male actors in that

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered Commenteranonny

Lol at Grant being quite terrible in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

He was great. And that's that.

March 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

1. Jérémie Renier, DOUBLE LOVER
2. Ethan Hawke, FIRST REFORMED
3. Kwon Hae-hyo, THE DAY AFTER
4. Brady Jandreau, THE RIDER
5. Ben Whishaw, PADDINGTON 2
7. Ben Foster, LEAVE NO TRACE
8. Daniel Giménez Cacho, ZAMA
9. Tomasz Kot, COLD WAR

Supporting Actor
1. Richard E. Grant, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
2. Hugh Grant, PADDINGTON 2
4. Nicholas Hoult, THE FAVOURITE
5. Steven Yeun, BURNING
6. Cedric the Entertainer, FIRST REFORMED
7. Philip Ettinger, FIRST REFORMED

March 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Having a hard time narrowing to 5.
Joaquin Phoenix
Viggo Mortensen
Daveed Diggs
Ethan Hawke
Timothée Chalamet
Bradley Cooper

Nothing close to a bad year. Along with these, Jonathan Pryce in The Wife is fantastic.

Christian Bale, John David Washington, Clint Eastwood, Ben Foster, Rami Malek, Mahershala Ali, Coogan/Reilly.

And slight shoutouts to Phoenix's other performance in Don't Worry, and also Jandreau for being at the center of one of the year's great films.

March 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

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