2013 Oscar Preview: Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress

     November 21, 2012


Oscar season is in full swing, folks.  2012 has been a fantastic year in film so far, and with merely weeks to go before 2013 begins there are still a couple of highly anticipated films that have yet to be seen.  Just like last year, I’ll be running down a preview of the upcoming Oscar race during this fine Thanksgiving week, giving readers a look at what the state of the race looks like right now.  To be clear, this isn’t a personal list but rather an objective look at how things look to be shaping up.  I’ve divided each category into frontrunners, likely to be nominated, and other contenders in order to parse out where things stand at the moment.  There are multiple strong contenders in nearly every category, so this is looking to be a rather heated run to the finish line.

We’ll be looking at a couple of different major categories each day over the next four days, and we’re kicking things off with the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories.  Hit the jump to read on.

philip-seymour-hoffman-joaquin-phoenix-the-masterFirst off, a caveat.  Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, and Django Unchained are the three major contenders that have yet to screen for critics.  All three films are obviously going to be players in the Oscar race, but we’re currently uncertain as to what extent they’ll factor into the overall picture.  As such, I’ve automatically excluded nominees from these films from being considered “frontrunners.”  So if you see Anne Hathaway in the “likely to be nominated” category even though she’s likely a shoo-in for a frontrunner status, this is why.

Also, I’ve added a new category to this year’s preview called “For Your Consideration.”  Under this header, I’ve singled out performances or films that I feel deserve consideration, but that are currently not a major part of the conversation.  It’s essentially my way of pointing out actors or films that may have been overlooked, even though most of these picks are unlikely of gaining steam in the next few weeks.  And with that, we’re off!

Best Supporting Actor 


  • Tommy Lee JonesLincoln
  • Phililp Seymour HoffmanThe Master

Likely to Be Nominated

  • Robert De NiroSilver Linings Playbook
  • Alan ArkinArgo

Other Contenders:

  • Leonardo DiCaprioDjango Unchained
  • Russell CroweLes Miserables
  • Matthew McConaugheyMagic Mike
  • Javier BardemSkyfall

For Your Consideration:

  • Ezra MillerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower

django-unchained-movie-image-leonardo-dicaprioThis category is likely to be one of the most prestigious come Oscar night, as a number of Hollywood veterans gave terrific performances this year in supporting roles.  The two major frontrunners at this point in time seem to be Tommy Lee Jones and Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Jones delivers an undeniably powerful performance in Lincoln as Thaddeus Stevens, and the film’s status as a frontrunner for the big trophy helps his chances greatly.  Hoffman’s masterful display of talent in The Master is also undeniable, and as that film’s divisive reaction makes it a lesser player in the Best Picture race, many of its admirers will likely look to the acting categories to show their appreciation.

Moving up pretty heavily is Robert De Niro for his pleasantly surprising emotional work in the crowdpleaser Silver Linings Playbook.  The two-time Oscar-winner gives his best performance in years as the father of an adult struggling with bipolar disorder, and if the film keeps gaining steam as it heads into wide release, look for De Niro to become a major player in this race.

Another veteran who is also getting a lot of love is Alan Arkin in Argo.  Director Ben Affleck’s thriller is a bona fide contender for the Best Picture trophy, and Arkin’s role as Hollywood producer Lester Siegel is both hilarious and genuinely moving.  The part may be a tad too small for Arkin to seal the deal, but he gave a terrific performance and is very much well-loved so he has a decent shot at a nomination.

russell-crowe-les-miserablesThough we’ve yet to see Django Unchained, all the trailers and marketing material point to Leonardo DiCaprio giving one hell of a performance as plantation owner Calvin Candie.  That said, it’s tough to predict a guaranteed nomination without first seeing what he does with the role and how much screentime he holds in Quentin Tarantino’s latest, so we’ll have a clearer idea once Django screens for critics.

The same can be said of Russell Crowe in the highly anticipated musical Les Miserables, as the role of the nefarious Javert could certainly give Crowe quite a lot of material to knock out of the park.  With this one, though, I imagine much of the reaction to Crowe’s performance will depend on how well he handles the pic’s musical sequences.  Thus far we’ve only heard an incredibly brief snippet of the actor singing, so everyone’s eager to see Crowe in action once the film hits theaters.

Matthew McConaughey is more of a longshot for his work in Magic Mike, but I for one would love to see his name among the nominees.  His charming performance in Steven Soderbergh’s excellent drama reminded audiences that he’s capable of a lot more than the “loveable schlub” role he’s been maligned to in many a romantic comedy, and the guy is just as likeable offscreen.  Javier Bardem is also a minor part of the conversation for his swell work in Skyfall, but it remains to be seen if two major dramatic scenes are enough to warrant Academy consideration.

As for my For Your Consideration pick, I’m going with Ezra Miller in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  Miller blew audiences away last year with his unsettling performance in We Need to Talk About Kevin, but his wonderful work as Patrick in the feature film adataption of Perks proved that the guy has a seriously wide range of talent.  Patrick is an incredibly complicated character in the source novel and this could’ve easily gone wrong, but Miller perfectly plays the semi-closeted character with equal parts humor and despair.  It’s one of the more affecting performances of the year (I assume it hits home with a great number of people), and it’s a shame it hasn’t gotten more recognition.

Best Supporting Actress


  • None

Likely to Be Nominated:

  • Helen HuntThe Sessions
  • Anne HathawayLes Miserables
  • Sally FieldLincoln
  • Amy AdamsThe Master

Other Contenders:

  • Samantha BarksLes Miserables
  • Maggie SmithThe Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Jacki WeaverSilver Linings Playbook
  • Judi DenchSkyfall
  • Kerry WashingtonDjango Unchained

For Your Consideration:

  • Doona BaeCloud Atlas

anne-hathaway-les-miserables-imageThe Best Supporting Actress category is a lot more wide open than Supporting Actor, but there are plenty of fine performances that are likely to be recognized.  Helen Hunt—who won the Best Actress trophy in 1997 for As Good as It Gets—appears to be back in a big way with the real-life drama The Sessions.  She’s been a part of the conversation since January, and I don’t see her possibly not being listed among the nominees in this category for her excellent performance as a sex surrogate.

Anne Hathaway is considered one of the favorites for this award even though Les Miserables has yet to screen for critics.  This is likely due to the fact that it’s her performance/voice work in the film’s trailer that’s been moving people to tears in under three minutes, but Hathaway has really come into her own in recent years and was nominated for Best Actress in 2009 for Rachel Getting Married.  We’ll know if she’s got the goods for the win after Les Mis screens, but odds are very good that she’ll be landing her second Oscar nomination this year.

Sally Field is deservedly gaining praise for her turn as Mary Todd Lincoln in Spielberg’s Lincoln.  The actress more than holds her own opposite living legend Daniel Day-Lewis, painting a human portrait of a woman whom history has maligned to “that crazy lady” status.  Expect her to land a nomination (if not the win) come Oscar night.

One of the films that’s already been playing big for Academy members is the drama/comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Dowager Countess Dame Maggie Smith has been picking up considerable notice for her work in that film.  Though she doesn’t have too many scenes, Jacki Weaver does fine work in Silver Linings Playbook as De Niro’s wife, and that film’s frontrunner status may nab her a nomination in this category as well.

doona-bae-cloud-atlasDon’t count out Judi Dench for her wonderful performance as M in Skyfall either, as we’ve seen in years past that the supporting categories usually net one or two surprises come Oscar night.  Also worth mentioning is Kerry Washington in Django Unchained should that film become a major Awards player, but it’s tough to parse out her true odds until the film has been seen.

For my money, though, one of the best performances of the year came from someone unfamiliar to most American audiences: Doona Bae in Cloud Atlas.  The film’s passionate yet polarizing response likely renders its Oscar chances as slim, but in an ensemble cast that boasts three Oscar winners it was Bae’s work as Sonmi~451 that truly mesmerized.  She evoked fear, curiosity, and bravery within the span of seconds, and she handled one of the most important characters in the film with ease.  Whatever you think of the final product, it’s tough to deny the excellence of Bae’s performance and I’d love to see her land a nomination.

That’s it for the Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories.  Remember, this is merely a look at the state of the race right now, so a lot can (and probably will) change between now and when the nominations are announced on January 10th.  Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts on these two categories, and I’d love to hear your own “For Your Consideration” picks.

Check back tomorrow when we rundown the contenders for Best Actor and Best Actress.


Around The Web
  • Dustin

    Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect is this year’s Melissa Mccarthy. I don’t expect her to have any recognition, but she was great in the movie. For supporting actor I’d say Bruce Willis in Looper. Wasn’t the biggest part, but he showed off some great emotional range that surprised me. He really made me care. So yeah, those are my picks….

    • amg907

      Bruce Willis in LOOPER was a G. I liked his performance very much. As much as I’d like him to get some kind of academy acknowledgement, I feel that the competition is quite steep this year.

      Here’s hoping for John Maclane.

    • randommale

      his performance in Moonrise Kingdom was better than in Looper

  • Chris

    PSH all the way for me, non of the other people can hold a candle to what this guy did in The Master.

  • Snatchmo

    Even though the movie was a bomb, critically and financially, I think Tom Cruise was pretty great in Rock of Ages. Definitely not worthy of an Oscar nomination, but maybe a Golden Globe nomination?

    • vincent1

      Why is he not worthy, because scientology. He out acted Hoffman in Magnolia remember!

      • Snatchmo

        I’m not saying Cruise isn’t worthy of a nomination overall. Just that his role in Rock of Ages isn’t worthy of an Oscar nod. It was fun and great, but not mind blowing. I think Cruise makes excellent movies, for the most part, regardless of his personal beliefs. My comment was about the role, not the actor.

    • AK

      I never reply to comments but sometimes I just cannot tolerate disrespect.

      You got it totally wrong, Tom Cruise deverses that Oscar more than anyone, its just because he is
      a Scientologist and THE BIGGEST MOVIE-STAR in the world. Everyone is jealous of his abilities. Haters ENVY him despite writing trash about him on the internet. Its the truth!!!!

      Someone like Daniel day lewis gets an Oscar nod everytime he does a movie even though critics said his Lincoln portrayal was not good enough. He is not as good or great as Tom. Not even close. Whereas, Tom Cruise works harder than anyone in Hollywood, e.g. he trained upto 10 hours a day to play Stacee Jaxx.

      Tom Cruise is by far the greatest actor in the world and people just do not see that, and never will. The Oscar predictions in this collider site does not make sense.

      • monk

        Apparently you haven’t read a lot of Lincoln reviews. Every one of them singles out Daniel- Day Lewis’s performance as spectacular. Please do not compare a year of method preparation to play one of the most iconic personalities in this countries history to 10 hours of dance rehearsal with Adam Shankman. Tom Cruise used to be a pretty decent actor (Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, Born on the fourth of july) but he lost is somewhere along the way. I usually respect other people’s opinions, but you commenting on Lincoln without probably seeing it and comparing probably the greatest actor of our time to Tom Cruise just rubbed me the wrong way.

  • Strong Enough

    that Helen Hunt pic scares me

  • The kid

    How come Tom Cruise once again gets over looked, while hacks like Clooney and Pitt keep getting nominated ever other year? Vanilla Sky, Last Samerui, Collateral, Tropic Thunder, and now Rock of ages.

    • Chris

      Tom Cruise is one of the worst actors, I don’t even understand how someone considers this guy having any acting chops. Clooney and Piit are not much better btw.

    • AManWithAKilt

      Maybe Collateral, maybe. The others though? No.

      • Snatchmo

        Cruise, Pitt, and Clooney are all GREAT actors. However, that doesn’t mean that every movie they do should be Oscar winning…….

      • Snatchmo

        To say otherwise makes you a hipster contrarian…..you probably also think Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, and Robert Downey Jr. are terrible actors. I bet you rave about under the radar people like Mark Strong, Anthony Mackie, and Idris Elba, though

  • Spring Breakers

    James Franco as Alien in Spring Breakers should be part of the mix too. In an ideal world the end result should show this for Best Supporting Actor. However, with Oscar Politics, bad marketing by not campaigning for him or even try, a great opportunity will be missed. Franco’s best performance to date and a real shame. Spring Breakers should become a classic though.

  • SP1234

    Thank you, thank you for having Doona on your list!!!! :) My favorite performance from any actor this year, and from an unknown international actress as well, that’s huge. It’s gonna be hard for any of the performances from the film to get nominated, due to the multiple roles, but Doona is by far the most deserving because the Sonmi character has a wonderfully quiet sense of innocence and strength that is truely stunning.

    • SP1234

      Also, someone else who should be considered, even though I know this will not make the final cut, but I loved Eva Green’s deliciously kooky witch in Dark Shadows, playing very much against type in with a villain and a comedic part.

  • George

    Biggest flaw with this list that foreign film contenders are not included. Also too many big spectacle movies. Remember how disappointed everyone was that Drive didn’t even get one acting nomination. Yet it had one the best hype systems last year.

    • Alan

      Niels Arestrup and Émilie Dequenne are amazing in ‘Our Children’. Ditto for Mads Mikkelsen in ‘The Hunt’ and Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan in ‘Beyond the Hills’. These are amazing performances, but critics/bloggers won’t get behind them because they (a) haven’t seen them (b) aren’t familiar with the actors and/or (c) don’t want to piss off studios by championing foreign language films at the Oscars.

      • SP1234

        Actually some of the biggest contenders are from foreign films. Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts for Rust and Bone and Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva in Amour.

      • Alan

        SP1234, your post kinda proves and disproves my point. Marion Cotillard is a film star who has worked with Nolan, Mann, Scott and Allen, so her presence will give the film an automatic push with Oscar voters/bloggers. If she wasn’t a star, then the Oscra bloggers would be less interested. I will give you ‘Amour’, though.

  • Brian

    While admittedly I have not seen many of the movies on your list, one is made conspicuous by its absence.

    That film is “Flight” (which I have seen),

    My money is on Denzel Washington for the Best Actor award, and John Goodman–who was also good in “Argo”–to get the Best Supporting Actor nod.

  • TheMegaMovieDude15

    I’m going to say one of these guys which stole the movie for me and thats for Avengers and the performances are:
    Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
    Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
    I think one of these guys should get nominated for their performances because Coulson was the heart and he was the comedic element of the movie. And Ruffalo suprised everyone in a role that was tough to do.

  • TheMegaMovieDude15

    I\’m going to say one of these guys which stole the movie for me and thats for Avengers and the performances are:
    Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
    Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
    I think one of these guys should get nominated for their performances because Coulson was the heart and he was the comedic element of the movie. And Ruffalo suprised everyone in a role that was tough to do.

    • Brett

      LMAO. Seriously?

  • Arnold


  • Kevynn

    Guy Pearce in Lawless!

  • Matt

    Seriously, no one’s talking about Sam Rockwell in “Seven Psychopaths”? Weird.

    • Jordan

      My personal favorite. Thanks for mentioning it!

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  • Person

    Kelly Reilly in Flight? (Also James Badge Dale’s one-scene performance was outstanding, but I know nothing will come of it).

  • Pocketses

    I’d love to be able to say that I could see one of three actors from The Hobbit make into this list, sadly, I think the Academy will likely overlook this new trilogy, considering the success they awarded the originals with, including the Best Picture trophy no one thought would come just 3 years prior…

    But Ian McKellen was stellar in the originals and looks to have all of the wit and charm he displayed almost a decade ago, along with the added comfort of returning to a location/role he’d played for 7 years in the past.

    Richard Armitage looks, from trailers, to be a commanding presence on screen whenever he’s available, and given how important Thorin is to the plot of the Hobbit, it’d be great to see him featured in some strong acting moments.

    And then there’s the continuously and criminally overlooked Andy Serkis. This man has almost single handedly pioneered the art of performance capture acting, and in many less stuffy circles than the Academy, is long overdue some serious acting consideration come awards season. This one is the obvious choice for least likely, as Gollum’s screentime is dramatically less than we’ve seen prior, and far, far less than last year’s Caesar from Apes. But you cannot, with a straight face, tell me that someone putting in a performance on-set, covered in mo-cap trackers and a skin-tight suit is any more aided by the CG effect character that he becomes than the person who spends an entire film in full make-up…

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  • monk

    Apparently you haven\’t read a lot of Lincoln reviews. Every one of them singles out Daniel- Day Lewis\’s performance as spectacular. Please do not compare a year of method preparation to play one of the most iconic personalities in this countries history to 10 hours of dance rehearsal with Adam Shankman. Tom Cruise used to be a pretty decent actor (Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, Born on the fourth of july) but he lost is somewhere along the way. I usually respect other people\’s opinions, but you commenting on Lincoln without probably seeing it and comparing probably the greatest actor of our time to Tom Cruise just rubbed me the wrong way.

  • LD

    Cloud Atlas featured 4 Oscar winners not 3 – Tom Hanks, Jim Boadbent, Susan Sarandon, and Halle Berry.

  • TheMegaMovieDude15

    My Dream Nominations

    Supporting Actor
    Leonardo DiCaprio-Django Unchained
    Mark Ruffalo-Avengers Assemble
    Seth MacFarlene-Ted
    Michael Caine-The Dark Knight Rises
    Russell Crowe-Les Miserables
    Javier Bardem-Skyfall
    Ian McKellan-The Hobbit
    John Goodman-Argo
    Robert DeNiro-Silver Linings

    Supporting Actress
    Amanda Seyfried-Les Miserables

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  • Movie buff

    Fassbender, Prometheus?

  • Movie Lover

    Adrien Brody (Best Actor) and Sami Gayle (Best Supporting Actress) both deserve Oscars for their performances in “Detachment” – I hope voters see this film. Some of the most powerful acting I have ever seen…

  • Jade

    Scarlett Johansson should get a nomination for best supporting actress. She did a great job portraying Janet Leigh in Hitchcock

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  • Bob

    Best Supporting Actor – Micheal Pene for End of Watch

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