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Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2014 Best Supporting Actor & Actress Nominees

by Oliver Lyttelton
February 28, 2013 3:42 PM
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We're coming to the end of our week of previewing possible contenders for the 2014 Academy Awards, having already examined Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress. There's one more piece to come after this, but right now, we're going to take a look at the trickiest categories to predict this far out: Best Supporting Actor and Actress.

It's difficult to make long-range guesses of any kind, but particularly so when it comes to Supporting Roles -- it's not easy to suss out which actor of an ensemble will be the one that stands out. Nevertheless, we weren't disastrous last year (bar perhaps our pick of Sean Penn for "Gangster Squad," which didn't just move into 2013, but also proved to be a terrible performance), even if our exact predictions were some ways off. Will we do any better this time around? Check out our selections below, and make your own in the comments section. 

Best Supporting Actor

Strong Contenders

Mark Ruffalo - "Foxcatcher"
Coming off the the success of "The Avengers," Mark Ruffalo looks to have a good year coming up, with the heist flick "Now You See Me" and musical romance "Can A Song Save Your Life?" both brewing. But the film that could land him his second Oscar nomination is Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher," which we figure is going to be a big player across all the categories. Ruffalo plays Dave Schultz, a gold medal-winning wrestler who befriended the Olympic team's sponsor, John du Pont (Steve Carell) only (SPOILER) to be killed by him. There's an obvious tragedy to the role, and Ruffalo's undergone a physical transformation too, bulking up and going part-bald. We haven't read the script, so it's always possible that Channing Tatum, who plays Mark, John's brother and teammate, may have the more potent character, but our money's very much on Ruffalo, who feels like someone who should have won an Oscar years ago (he's only been nominated once, for "The Kids Are All Right").

Josh Brolin - "Labor Day"
Like Ruffalo, Josh Brolin is another actor who feels like he's been much lauded, but in reality only has a single nomination (Bet Supporting Actor for "Milk"). But in "Labor Day," in which Brolin plays an escaped murderer who befriends a young boy and his agoraphobic mother (Kate Winslet), he might have one of the best roles he's ever had, and certainly one of the most awards-friendly. It should allow the actor to be both menacing and gentle, and given that Jason Reitman's directing the film, it's likely to allow some humor in there as well. It's probably a more significant role than most of these ones, but our gut is that Brolin will end up campaigning in Supporting, and has a damn good chance at getting into the five.

Colin Farrell - "Saving Mr. Banks"
Despite plenty of acclaimed performances, Colin Farrell has never actually been nominated for an Oscar. And to pick up a nod for a Disney film about the making of "Mary Poppins" would be somewhat discordant with the rest of the one-time hellraiser's career. But he's got the showiest supporting role (although Paul Giamatti, as P.L. Travers' driver, might be one to keep an eye on too), as the inspiration for the title character in "Saving Mr. Banks." Farrell plays Travers' father, a good-natured man lost hopelessly in alcoholism. It's a beautifully written part, and given the connections with the now-sober Farrell's own life, has a tailor-made narrative in place for awards season. It's not the largest of roles, so it could end up being seen as too small for a nomination, but we think it's definitely a possibility.

Jeremy Renner - "Untitled David O Russell Abscam Project"
After two back-to-back nominations for "The Hurt Locker" and "The Town," Jeremy Renner' sat out the last couple of awards seasons in favor of blockbusters like "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," "The Bourne Legacy" and "The Avengers." But with that initial salvo out the way, Renner is returning to the kind of prestige fare that made his name, and while he could well be a prospect for James Gray's "Lowlife," we think his chances are better with David O. Russell's untitled latest. The director's films are generally awards magnets for their supporting players, and Renner has the juiciest supporting role, as the state senator and hugely popular mayor of Camden, New Jersey, Angelo Errichetti, who is one of the targets of an FBI sting operation intended to tackle political corruption. We suppose Bradley Cooper (who's really the co-lead) or even Louis CK might be the one to stand out in the film, but the smart money is on Renner.

Sam Rockwell - "The Way Way Back"
Like Farrell, Sam Rockwell has somehow failed to ever get an Oscar nomination, despite being one of the most talented actors of his generation. There's a number of possible films on the way, but his best chance may come with the Sundance flick "The Way Way Back." The film, directed by "The Descendants" writers Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, was one of the big Sundance hits, snapped up for record sums by Fox Searchlight, who hope to turn it into the next "Little Miss Sunshine." And Rockwell apparently steals the show as Owen, the manager of a waterpark at which protagonist Duncan (Liam James) works. Rockwell's turn has been compared to Bill Murray and generally praised to the skies (the Hollywood Reporter says it might be "the most winning performance in a career full of charm"). He's undeniably overdue for a nomination, and we definitely think this has the potential to finally get him one.

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  • Edmond | August 4, 2013 3:30 AMReply

    Just saw "The Way, Way Back" today, and I was walking out saying Rockwell should earn a supporting nod for this. He reminded me of Renée Zellweger in "Cold Mountain", I remember saying the same thing about her goofy part in that. I also think Liam James deserves a best actor nomination for his work. This was a brilliant film. Love loved!

  • christopher loup | June 28, 2013 6:23 AMReply

    I think that Kristin Scott thomas has strong potential of being a contender in the best supp actress category. She plays a role out of her usual ones and with great success. I really hope she gets a nod.

  • GERARD KENNELLY | March 11, 2013 11:18 AMReply

    here are my very early predictions


    lindsay burdge A TEACHER
    shailene woodley THE SPECTACULAR NOW
    zoe saldana BLOOD TIES
    Trieste Kelly Dunn LOVES HER GUN
    kate winslet LABOR DAY
    ... rooney mara SIDE EFFECTS
    carey mulligan THE GREAT GATSBY
    noomi rapace DEAD MAN DOWN
    nicole kidman GRACE OF MONACO
    cate blanchett BLUE JASMINE
    carey mulligan INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
    jennifer lawrence SERENA
    naomi watts DIANA
    meryl streep AUGUSY OSAGE COUNTY
    michelle monaghan GUS
    michelle pfeiffer MALAVITA
    brie larson SHORT TERM 12
    julianne moore WHAT MAISIE KNEW


    robert deniro MALAVITA
    bruce dern NEBRASKA
    michael fassbender THE COUNSELOR
    casey affkleck AINT THEM BODIES SAINTS
    billy crudup BLOOD TIES
    benedict cumberbatch THE FIFTH ESTATE
    forest whitaker THE BUTLER
    tom hanks CAPTAIN PHILIPS
    leonardo dicaprio WOLF WALL STREET
    joseph gordon levitt DON JON
    robert redford ALL IS LOST
    ashton kutcher JOBS
    leonardo dicaprio THE GREAT GATSBY
    matthew mcconaughey MUD
    ryan gosling ONLY GOD FORGIVES
    paul walker HOURS
    edward james olmos GO FOR SISTERS
    robert redford THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
    josh brolin OLDBOY


    kristin scott thomas ONLY GOD FORGIVES
    sally hawkins BLUE JASMINE
    cameron diaz THE COUNSELOR
    radha mitchell GUS
    julie christie THE COMPAY YOU KEEP
    scarlett johansen DON JON
    hailee steinfeld CAN A SONG SAVE YOUR LIFE
    olga kurylenko TO THE WONDER
    julia roberts AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY
    elizabeth olsen OLDBOY


    tom hanks SAVING MR BANKS
    russell crowe RUSH
    james caan BLOOD TIES
    sam rockwell THE WAY WAY BACK
    brad pitt THE COUNSELOR
    will forte NEBRASKA
    tommy lee jones MALAVITA
    shia labeouf THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
    javier bardem TO THE WONDER
    chris cooper AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY
    tobey maguire THE GREAT GATSBY
    matthew mcconaughey DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
    terence howard DEAD MAN DOWN
    bradley cooper THE PLACE BEYON THE PINES
    sharlto copley OLDBOY
    matthew mcconaughey WOLF WALL STREET
    alan rickman THE BUTLER
    javier bardem THE COUNSELOR
    tony danza DON JON

  • Zena | March 4, 2013 6:34 PMReply

    I'm shocked that they're all white. That's so unlike the Academy Awards and Hollywood.

  • Josh | March 2, 2013 8:31 PMReply

    Nicole Kidman in The Railway Man

  • 23553 | March 2, 2013 3:10 PMReply

    I would love to see Will Forte get a nod, I really like him.

  • Josh | March 1, 2013 5:31 PMReply

    Barbara in 'August: Osage County' is definitely a lead role. Some would say it's even bigger than Violet (Streep). Amy Morton was in lead at the Tony Awards and it would be an incredible stretch to say that there are not two co-leads in the piece.

  • Tom | March 1, 2013 8:02 AMReply

    LOL! Cumberbatch is "Little Charles"?! This is gonna be awesome. From a genius dettective, a terrifying villain in Star Trek, Smaug the Dragon and "US enemy 1" in The Fifth Estate to a dumb, unemployed, man-child?! I am so looking forward to this!

  • droopy | February 28, 2013 7:26 PMReply

    im amazed at hoe much faith you guys seem to have in the great gatsby. seeing as luhrman is lady gaga-ing it up big time its obviously gonna be utter shit

  • Duddi | February 28, 2013 7:21 PMReply

    What about Pitt in "The Counselor" ... he's great in supporting roles (12 Monkeys; Burn After Reading,Babel and The Tree of Life come to mind)... and also Paul Giamatti in "Saving Mr. Banks" and maybe any member of "Last Vegas" can have a big time party in that movie (De Niro, Douglas, Freeman and Kline)... also worth mentioning "Mickey Rourke" in Sin City or

  • Ohh | February 28, 2013 6:00 PMReply

    Good god the what Bardem looks like in the counselor? Haha!

  • j bone | February 28, 2013 4:38 PMReply

    ruffalo,rockwell,renner,fassbender and bardem that's my list book it right now

  • IO | February 28, 2013 4:27 PMReply

    I suspect you have underrated Michael Fassbender. First feedback about his performance in "12 years slave" is very impressive.

  • wes | February 28, 2013 4:25 PMReply

    I usually hate when comments say "this post is dumb," "jeez, guys. don't you have anything better to write about?" or some other trollish comment. But these premature predictions are kind of ridiculous. Props if y'all are spot on though. :)

  • Lili | February 28, 2013 4:23 PMReply

    Why is there nobody from the cast of Blood Ties? Mila Kunis, Billy Crudup, James Caan, Marion Cotillard? At least one of them will be worth mentioning.

  • GERARD KENNELLY | March 11, 2013 11:13 AM

    i think billy crudup is a fearless actor
    ever since i saw him in ALMOST FAMOUS
    he was the best part of Public Enemies

    i love the french thriller RIVALS (which blood ties is a remake of )

    when you watch the french one
    you will see why they cast James Caan as the father
    he will be 100% perfect for that part

  • oogle monster | February 28, 2013 4:19 PMReply

    What about Cate Blanchett in Monuments Men?

  • paul | June 30, 2013 3:52 PM

    well said!!!

  • Shanon | February 28, 2013 7:49 PM

    Of course she should be considered, alongside Oprah for The Butler (Oprah !), Nicole Kidman for The Railway man (long-suffering wife) and even maybe Reese Witherspoon for The Devil's Knot (long-suffering mother). Oh, and we have learnt that Jackie Weaver is now always one to keep an eye on (she's in Parkland, Stoker and Labor Day).

  • Lou | February 28, 2013 4:13 PMReply

    Keep an eye out for Vithaya Pansringarm in "Only God Forgives."

  • GERARD KENNELLY | March 11, 2013 11:14 AM

    http://www.facebook. dot com/pages/Vithaya-Pansringarm-Best-Supporting-Actor-2014/350810541691865?fref=ts

  • Pluert | February 28, 2013 3:59 PMReply

    No actor/actress is getting a nomination for The Great Gatsby. Let it go, it's not an awards contender other than the technical categories.

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