2012 Oscar Preview: Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress

     November 24, 2011

Ah, November. Leaves are falling, colder weather is here (depending on where you live), and the 2011 movie season is coming to a close. While angry shoppers and red Starbucks cups generally mean it’s time to start preparing for the many awkward/tense family encounters that are sure to come, it’s also time to start thinking Oscar. We’ve seen a few contenders throughout the year, but a plethora of heavyhitters will be opening over the next 5 weeks.

To aid in your Oscar polls (or to quench your curiosity) we’ve compiled a state of the race preview as of this lovely Thanksgiving week. Granted, a lot can change from now until February, but a good portion of the major players have already been screened and we’re starting to get a sense of how it could all play out. We’ll be examining all the major categories over the next four days, kicking things off with the infamously unpredictable Best Supporting Actor and Actress. Hit the jump to see where things stand.

Albert-Brooks-Drive-movie-imageThe following two categories are probably the toughest to predict – as they tend to be where the majority of surprises come from – but we’ve done our best to compile the list of contenders. Again, it’s still relatively early in the race and things can certainly fluctuate, but this is where we see the race right now.

Best Supporting Actor


Christopher Plummer – Beginners

Albert Brooks – Drive

Likely to be nominated:

Max von Sydow – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

patton-oswalt-young-adult-movie-imageOther contenders:

Patton Oswalt – Young Adult

Kenneth Branagh – My Week with Marilyn

John Hawkes – Martha Marcy May Marlene

Viggo Mortensen – A Dangerous Method

The supporting actor race this year is poised to be extremely top heavy age-wise, but that doesn’t mean the performances are lacking. Critics have been taking notice of Christopher Plummer’s role in Beginners since the film premiered at TIFF last year. The actor plays an aging man who comes out to his son shortly after his wife’s death, so it’s pretty much right up the Academy’s alley. Also of note is Albert Brooks’ terrifically nasty performance in Drive. While he’s been absent from the film world for a few years, he returned in a big way as the film’s violence-prone villain. The consensus is that Brooks will nab his first Oscar nomination since 1987’s Broadcast News.

christopher-plummer-beginners-imageWhile Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has yet to officially screen, early word from test screenings is that Max von Sydow’s turn as a mute man who only communicates through a notepad and the words “yes” and “no” tattooed on each hand is extremely emotional and should put him in the race. If his performance is anything like the character from the book, von Sydow has a serious shot at winning. Also in the mix is Kenneth Branagh who plays storied actor Lawrence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn. It’s not a huge role, but small portrayals of old famous actors is another Academy favorite.

On the younger side of things, Patton Oswalt is getting some serious chatter for his supporting role in Young Adult. Oswalt spends most of his screentime opposite Charlize Theron as the “nerd” that Theron denigrated in high school. Oswalt has the cool kids vote, and if the film picks up some serious fans once it starts screening more, the comedian has a good shot at landing a nod. Character actor John Hawkes’s nomination for last year’s Winter’s Bone was a welcome surprise and shows that the Academy has already acknowledged his talent, so he has a chance at being nominated again this year for Martha Marcy May Marlene. Also in the mix is Viggo Mortensen’s work in A Dangerous Method. Mortensen plays Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg’s heavy-on-the-sex historical drama, but the last minute surge for the actor may be too little too late.

My Picks: Right now I see Plummer and von Sydow duking it out for the win, with Brooks, Hawkes, and Oswalt landing the remaining nominations. This category is where the surprises happen, so it’s really anyone’s guess. Possible spoilers include Branagh, Armie Hammer for J. Edgar, and even Jonah Hill is getting attention for Moneyball.

the_help_movie_image_viola_davis_octavia_spencer_02Best Supporting Actress


Octavia Spencer – The Help

Likely to be nominated:

Berenice Bejo – The Artist

Shailene Woodly – The Descendants

Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs

Other contenders:

Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids

Carey Mulligan – Shame

Sandra Bullock – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Best Supporting Actress category is probably the weakest of the bunch at the moment. The only clear frontrunner is Octavia Spencer in The Help, and even she isn’t locked in as the winner. Berenice Bejo is getting some chatter for her silent work in The Artist and Melissa McCarthy’s chances for her comedic breakout role in Bridesmaids get better every week. While a nomination for a comedic performance has become about as rare as a bad Pixar movie (though it does happen…), McCarthy’s Emmy win for Mike & Molly paired with her well-deserved success story has made a nomination a real possibility.

Also surging as of late is 20-year-old actress Shailene Woodley, whose strong performance in the Best Picture frontrunner The Descendants is gaining notice. The supporting categories are where the surprises come from so they’re extremely hard to predict, but I’d say Woodley has a good shot at a nod. Carey Mulligan has a chance as well for the character-centric Shame, and her chances only get better the more people talk about that NC-17 rating, keeping the film in the conversation.

descendants-movie-image-george-clooney-shailene-woodley-02Janet McTeer is getting notice for upstaging Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs, which should definitely bode well. McTeer was previously nominated for Best Actress in 1999 for Tumbleweeds so she’s got experience. 2009’s Best Actress winner Sandra Bullock is a contender for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, though the film has yet to screen so we don’t have a clear idea of exactly how she stacks up. She plays a woman widowed by 9/11 and judging by the trailers does quite a bit of crying, so I’d say she has a decent shot.

My Picks: While this will probably be entirely inaccurate, I say Spencer, Woodley, McCarthy, McTeer, and Bullock get the nods. The possible Dark Horse candidates are Bejo and Mulligan, though I could see Jessica Chastain getting a surprise nomination for The Help.

Be sure to check back tomorrow when we’ll be breaking down the Best Actor and Best Actress categories.

  • Tarek

    I nominate Max Von Sydow, He is a Shakespearian actor

  • Rob H

    Don’t underestimate Marion Cotillard for Midnight in Paris. A successful Woody Allen film is going to garner more than a few Oscar nominations, and Cotillard already has an Oscar pedigree.

  • Carlos

    if Zach Galifianakis got ZERO award recognition for the first Hangover (a comparable movie and performance, superior in both categories to Bridesmaids), McCarthy deserves none as well

    • Mr. Me

      While I agree with your general point…I wasn’t convinced for one second that Galifianakis was really acting. (Does he ever?) The great thing about ZG in The Hangover was his character, not his acting, IMO. (Similar, I might say, to Mark Wahlberg in The Departed. His character was very well written, and he had excellent direction, but his acting was nothing special. *Still* don’t understand that nomination….)

  • Dakota

    I was taking this seriously until the McCarthy thing. Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

  • David Con

    Where’s Alan Rickman?
    If McCarthy is purposed to may be get one, I want to see Alan Rickman.

    • Bheaya Emortalis

      I am all for Alan Rickman for an Oscar like seriously the guy totally deserves it. Especially for his work on the Harry Potter series. U cannot imagine the excitement that when through me when you said that.

      Now Melissa McCarthy — for he role as Megan in Bridesmaids, she was the scene stealer to the same degree as Zach in The Hangover but her character was much more genuine and real. She handled the role exceptionally and it’s one of the few roles I can actually say were convincing. I’m not sure if she should be nominated for an Oscar but she should definitely be nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy at the Golden Globes.

  • Pizz

    how the f*ck is Nolte not included for Warrior!?

    • AJ25

      THANK YOU! Nolte was F*cking astonishing in that movie

    • Cali Kid

      It’ll be a shame if Nolte isn’t nominated. Especially if Patton Oswalt and Albert Brooks are considered “serious” contenders right now. The Academy blows!

  • Goop

    Natalie Portman won last year, not Sandra Bullock. I think you meant “2009′s Best Actress winner…”

    • Goop

      Nevermind, my bad. Now I can’t delete my comment.

  • nelson

    dont discount comedy people

    it is far easier to get the audience to hate you or feel sorry for you

    then it is to make the audience genuinely laugh

  • Ryan

    Octavia Spencer will def win the Oscar !!

  • Larry Hyde

    It was a very, very exciting movie, good effects, EXCELLENT acting, nice wrapping up, loads of action, very highly rated, anyways, it was a very, very good movie.

  • Pingback: 2012 Oscar Preview: Best Actor and Best Actress

  • Lisa

    Gotta agree…no nominations for Midnight in Paris or 50/50?

  • Casey

    I really hope Nick Nolte gets some recognition for Warrior. And Andy Serkis gets some for Rise. Those are the best performances that I have seen all year.

  • shiminsphax

    u dont think TOM HARDY deserve a nom for WARRIOR?

  • Pingback: 2012 Oscar Preview: Best Animated Feature, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Technical Category Quick Picks

  • dbrock

    whoever it was that played Ernest Hemingway in Midnight in Paris surely deserves a best supporting nod…if all were right in the world, that movie would sweep the awards…best screenplay,picture,actor,supporting actress,supporting actor,music,set and costume design in my opinion.

  • MaineHR

    Ashley Rickards as an autistic teen in Fly Away is a remarkable performance. A low budget independent film, but her performance has been recognized by critics. She transforms the role. Those voting for best actress nominees….consider Ashley Rickards!

  • Pingback: 2012 Oscar Preview: Best Picture and Best Director

  • Peter M

    They simply have to give it to Max von Sydow. If not for the upcoming movie then for Pelle the Conqueror (1988) for which he was nominated but didn’t win. An imense and very intense character actor.

  • phil

    go nolte

  • Pingback: YOUNG ADULT R-Rated TV Spot Featuring Charlize Theron

  • Pingback: TOP 5: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, MEN IN BLACK 3, LINCOLN, Cinemath, 2012 Oscar Previews

  • home chicken coops

    You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the paintings you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. Always follow your heart.