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The Oscar Quest: Rankings (Best Supporting Actor)

Each time I write up Oscar categories for the Quest, I put rankings at the bottom. I can say what I want, but it really only gains perspective when I show you how I feel about each of the films or performances in relation to the others in the category. Plus, lists are easy to read.

They tend to be slightly different each time. The actual rankings are of course different, but also my methodology behind how I ranked them is different. Each time I do it, I seem to be getting closer to a consensus, so hopefully this one sticks.

The way I’m ranking these performances, as least in this current iteration: for each of the performance-related categories, the rankings are about quality of performance. I’ll vote for what I vote for, but the rankings are meant to reflect what I believe to be the best performances of the category, in order. Now, there may be some slight skewing on a few categories where my personal preference outweighs what may be objective criticism, but I promise those are limited.

Hopefully I can continue updating this as we go, and whenever I watch another movie again and shift my opinion, I’ll go back and reorganize these lists as I see fit. So that means, if this page is different than the actual category I wrote up, that’s the reason. Ideally one day I’ll have set pages for each of the categories and can just have one master location. I think we’re moving closer to that. I just need to get to a place where I feel my opinions have leveled out. We’re not there yet, but I’m working on it.

Anyway, this is a compilation of my rankings for the Best Supporting Actor categories:

2016

  1. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight *
  2. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
  3. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
  4. Dev Patel, Lion
  5. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

2015

  1. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
  2. Sylvester Stallone, Creed *
  3. Tom Hardy, The Revenant
  4. Christian Bale, The Big Short
  5. Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

2014

  1. J.K Simmons, Whiplash *
  2. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  3. Edward Norton, Birdman
  4. Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  5. Robert Duvall, The Judge

2013

  1. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club *
  2. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
  3. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
  4. Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
  5. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

2012

  1. Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained *
  2. Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
  3. Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
  4. Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
  5. Alan Arkin, Argo

2011

  1. Nick Nolte, Warrior *
  2. Christopher Plummer, Beginners
  3. Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  4. Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
  5. Jonah Hill, Moneyball

2010

  1. Christian Bale, The Fighter *
  2. Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech
  3. John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
  4. Jeremy Renner, The Town
  5. Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

2009

  1. Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds *
  2. Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
  3. Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
  4. Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
  5. Matt Damon, Invictus

2008

  1. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight *
  2. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
  3. Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
  4. Josh Brolin, Milk
  5. Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road

2007

  1. Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men *
  2. Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  3. Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
  4. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
  5. Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild

2006

  1. Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls *
  2. Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
  3. Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
  4. Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
  5. Mark Walhberg, The Departed

2005

  1. William Hurt, A History of Violence *
  2. George Clooney, Syriana
  3. Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
  4. Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
  5. Matt Dillon, Crash

2004

  1. Clive Owen, Closer *
  2. Jamie Foxx, Collateral
  3. Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
  4. Thomas Haden Church, Sideways
  5. Alan Alda, The Aviator

2003

  1. Alec Baldwin, The Cooler *
  2. Benicio del Toro, 21 Grams
  3. Tim Robbins, Mystic River
  4. Ken Watanabe, The Last Samurai
  5. Djimon Hounsou, In America

2002

  1. Christopher Walken, Catch Me If You Can *
  2. Chris Cooper, Adaptation.
  3. Paul Newman, Road to Perdition
  4. Ed Harris, The Hours
  5. John C. Reilly, Chicago

2001

  1. Ben Kingsley, Sexy Beast *
  2. Ian McKellen, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  3. Jim Boradbent, Iris
  4. Ethan Hawke, Training Day
  5. Jon Voight, Ali

2000

  1. Benicio del Toro, Traffic *
  2. Willem Dafoe, Shadow of the Vampire
  3. Albert Finney, Erin Brockovich
  4. Joaquin Phoenix, Gladiator
  5. Jeff Bridges, The Contender

1999

  1. Tom Cruise, Magnolia *
  2. Jude Law, The Talented Mr. Ripley
  3. Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense
  4. Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules
  5. Michael Clarke Duncan, The Green Mile

1998

  1. Billy Bob Thornton, A Simple Plan *
  2. James Coburn, Affliction
  3. Geoffrey Rush, Shakespeare in Love
  4. Ed Harris, The Truman Show
  5. Robert Duvall, A Civil Action

1997

  1. Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting *
  2. Robert Forster, Jackie Brown
  3. Burt Reynolds, Boogie Nights
  4. Greg Kinnear, As Good As It Gets
  5. Anthony Hopkins, Amistad

1996

  1. William H. Macy, Fargo
  2. Edward Norton, Primal Fear *
  3. Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Maguire
  4. Armin Mueller-Stahl, Shine
  5. James Woods, Ghosts of Mississippi

1995

  1. Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects *
  2. Brad Pitt, Twelve Monkeys
  3. Ed Harris, Apollo 13
  4. Tim Roth, Rob Roy
  5. James Cromwell, Babe

1994

  1. Martin Landau, Ed Wood *
  2. Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction
  3. Gary Sinise, Forrest Gump
  4. Paul Scofield, Quiz Show
  5. Chazz Palminteri, Bullet Over Broadway

1993

  1. Ralph Fiennes, Schindler’s List *
  2. Leonardo DiCaprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
  3. Pete Postlethwaite, In the Name of the Father
  4. Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive
  5. John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire

1992

  1. Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men *
  2. Gene Hackman, Unforgiven
  3. Jaye Davidson, The Crying Game
  4. Al Pacino, Glengarry Glen Ross
  5. David Paymer, Mr. Saturday Night

1991

  1. Michael Lerner, Barton Fink *
  2. Harvey Keitel, Bugsy
  3. Tommy Lee Jones, JFK
  4. Jack Palance, City Slickers
  5. Ben Kingsley, Bugsy

1990

  1. Joe Pesci, Goodfellas *
  2. Andy Garcia, The Godfather Part III
  3. Bruce Davison, Longtime Companion
  4. Graham Greene, Dances with Wolves
  5. Al Pacino, Dick Tracy

1989

  1. Danny Aiello, Do the Right Thing *
  2. Denzel Washington, Glory
  3. Martin Landau, Crimes and Misdemeanors
  4. Marlon Brando, A Dry White Season
  5. Dan Aykroyd, Driving Miss Daisy

1988

  1. Kevin Kline, A Fish Called Wanda *
  2. Martin Landau, Tucker: The Man and His Dream
  3. River Phoenix, Running on Empty
  4. Alec Guinness, Little Dorrit
  5. Dean Stockwell, Married to the Mob

1987

  1. Sean Connery, The Untouchables *
  2. Morgan Freeman, Street Smart
  3. Albert Brooks, Broadcast News
  4. Denzel Washington, Cry Freedom
  5. Vincent Gardenia, Moonstruck

1986

  1. Tom Berenger, Platoon *
  2. Willem Dafoe, Platoon
  3. Michael Caine, Hannah and Her Sisters
  4. Dennis Hopper, Hoosiers
  5. Denholm Elliott, A Room with a View

1985

  1. Klaus Maria Brandauer, Out of Africa *
  2. William Hickey, Prizzi’s Honor
  3. Robert Loggia, Jagged Edge
  4. Eric Roberts, Runaway Train
  5. Don Ameche, Cocoon

1984

  1. Haing S. Ngor, The Killing Fields *
  2. Adolph Caesar, A Soldier’s Story
  3. Pat Morita, The Karate Kid
  4. John Malkovich, Places in the Heart
  5. Ralph Richardson, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes

1983

  1. Sam Shepard, The Right Stuff *
  2. Jack Nicholson, Terms of Endearment
  3. Rip Torn, Cross Creek
  4. Charles Durning, To Be Or Not to Be
  5. John Lithgow, Terms of Endearment

1982

  1. Lou Gossett, Jr., An Officer and a Gentleman *
  2. James Mason, The Verdict
  3. John Lithgow, The World According to Garp
  4. Robert Preston, Victor/Victoria
  5. Charles Durning, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

1981

  1. John Gielgud, Arthur *
  2. Howard Rollins, Ragtime
  3. Jack Nicholson, Reds
  4. Ian Holm, Chariots of Fire
  5. James Coco, Only When I Laugh

1980

  1. Timothy Hutton, Ordinary People *
  2. Joe Pesci, Raging Bull
  3. Jason Robards, Melvin and Howard
  4. Michael O’Keefe, The Great Santini
  5. Judd Hirsch, Ordinary People

1979

  1. Robert Duvall, Apocalypse Now *
  2. Justin Henry, Kramer vs. Kramer
  3. Melvyn Douglas, Being There
  4. Frederic Forrest, The Rose
  5. Mickey Rooney, The Black Stallion

1978

  1. Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter *
  2. Bruce Dern, Coming Home
  3. John Hurt, Midnight Express
  4. Richard Farnsworth, Comes a Horseman
  5. Jack Warden, Heaven Can Wait

1977

  1. Jason Robards, Julia
  2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars *
  3. Peter Firth, Equus
  4. Mikhail Baryshnikov, The Turning Point
  5. Maximilian Schell, Julia

1976

  1. Jason Robards, All the President’s Men *
  2. Burgess Meredith, Rocky
  3. Burt Young, Rocky
  4. Laurence Olivier, Marathon Man
  5. Ned Beatty, Network

1975

  1. George Burns, The Sunshine Boys *
  2. Chris Sarandon, Dog Day Afternoon
  3. Brad Dourif, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  4. Jack Warden, Shampoo
  5. Burgess Meredith, The Day of the Locust

1974

  1. Robert De Niro, The Godfather Part II *
  2. Lee Strasberg, The Godfather Part II
  3. Michael V. Gazzo, The Godfather Part II
  4. Jeff Bridges, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
  5. Fred Astaire, The Towering Inferno

1973

  1. Jason Miller, The Exorcist *
  2. Vincent Gardenia, Bang the Drum Slowly
  3. Randy Quaid, The Last Detail
  4. John Houseman, The Paper Chase
  5. Jack Gilford, Save the Tiger

1972

  1. Al Pacino, The Godfather *
  2. James Caan, The Godfather
  3. Joel Grey, Cabaret
  4. Robert Duvall, The Godfather
  5. Eddie Albert, The Heartbreak Kid

1971

  1. Ben Johnson, The Last Picture Show *
  2. Roy Scheider, The French Connection
  3. Jeff Bridges, The Last Picture Show
  4. Richard Jaeckel, Sometimes a Great Notion
  5. Leonard Frey, Fiddler on the Roof

1970

  1. Chief Dan George, Little Big Man *
  2. John Marley, Love Story
  3. Gene Hackman, I Never Sang for My Father
  4. Richard S. Castellano, Lovers and Other Strangers
  5. John Mills, Ryan’s Daughter

1969

  1. Gig Young, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? *
  2. Jack Nicholson, Easy Rider
  3. Elliott Gould, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
  4. Anthony Quayle, Anne of the Thousand Days
  5. Rupert Crosse, The Reivers

1968

  1. Gene Wilder, The Producers *
  2. Jack Albertson, The Subject Was Roses
  3. Jack Wild, Oliver!
  4. Daniel Massey, Star!
  5. Seymour Cassel, Faces

1967

  1. George Kennedy, Cool Hand Luke *
  2. Michael J. Pollard, Bonnie and Clyde
  3. Gene Hackman, Bonnie and Clyde
  4. John Cassavetes, The Dirty Dozen
  5. Cecil Kellaway, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

1966

  1. Walter Matthau, The Fortune Cookie *
  2. George Segal, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  3. Robert Shaw, A Man for All Seasons
  4. Mako, The Sand Pebbles
  5. James Mason, Georgy Girl

1965

  1. Tom Courtenay, Doctor Zhivago *
  2. Martin Balsam, A Thousand Clowns
  3. Frank Finlay, Othello
  4. Michael Dunn, Ship of Fools
  5. Ian Bannen, The Flight of the Phoenix

1964

  1. Lee Tracy, The Best Man *
  2. Peter Ustinov, Topkapi
  3. John Gielgud, Becket
  4. Stanley Holloway, My Fair Lady
  5. Edmond O’Brien, Seven Days in May

1963

  1. Melvyn Douglas, Hud *
  2. Bobby Darin, Captain Newman, M.D.
  3. Hugh Griffith, Tom Jones
  4. John Huston, The Cardinal
  5. Nick Adams, Twilight of Honor

1962

  1. Omar Sharif, Lawrence of Arabia *
  2. Terence Stamp, Billy Budd
  3. Ed Begley, Sweet Bird of Youth
  4. Telly Savalas, Birdman of Alcatraz
  5. Victor Buono, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

1961

  1. Jackie Gleason, The Hustler *
  2. George Chakiris, West Side Story
  3. George C. Scott, The Hustler
  4. Montgomery Clift, Judgment at Nuremberg
  5. Peter Falk, Pocketful of Miracles

1960

  1. Peter Falk, Murder, Inc. *
  2. Peter Ustinov, Spartacus
  3. Jack Kruschen, The Apartment
  4. Sal Mineo, Exodus
  5. Chill Wills, The Alamo

1959

  1. George C. Scott, Anatomy of a Murder *
  2. Arthur O’Connell, Anatomy of a Murder
  3. Hugh Griffith, Ben-Hur
  4. Robert Vaughn, The Young Philadelphians
  5. Ed Wynn, The Diary of Anne Frank

1958

  1. Burl Ives, The Big Country *
  2. Theodore Bikel, The Defiant Ones
  3. Arthur Kennedy, Some Came Running
  4. Gig Young, Teacher’s Pet
  5. Lee J. Cobb, The Brothers Karamazov

1957

  1. Sessue Hayakawa, The Bridge on the River Kwai *
  2. Arthur Kennedy, Peyton Place
  3. Red Buttons, Sayonara
  4. Vittorio De Sica, A Farewell to Arms
  5. Russ Tamblyn, Peyton Place

1956

  1. Anthony Quinn, Lust for Life *
  2. Robert Stack, Written on the Wind
  3. Mickey Rooney, The Bold and the Brave
  4. Anthony Perkins, Friendly Persuasion
  5. Don Murray, Bus Stop

1955

  1. Jack Lemmon, Mister Roberts *
  2. Arthur Kennedy, Trial
  3. Joe Mantell, Marty
  4. Sal Mineo, Rebel Without a Cause
  5. Arthur O’Connell, Picnic

1954

  1. Karl Malden, On the Waterfront *
  2. Lee J. Cobb, On the Waterfront
  3. Rod Steiger, On the Waterfront
  4. Edmond O’Brien, The Barefoot Contessa
  5. Tom Tully, The Caine Mutiny

1953

  1. Frank Sinatra, From Here to Eternity *
  2. Robert Strauss, Stalag 17
  3. Eddie Albert, Roman Holiday
  4. Jack Palance, Shane
  5. Brandon de Wilde, Shane

1952

  1. Anthony Quinn, Viva Zapata! *
  2. Victor McLaglen, The Quiet Man
  3. Arthur Hunnicutt, The Big Sky
  4. Richard Burton, My Cousin Rachel
  5. Jack Palance, Sudden Fear

1951

  1. Karl Malden, A Streetcar Named Desire *
  2. Peter Ustinov, Quo Vadis
  3. Gig Young, Come Fill the Cup
  4. Kevin McCarthy, Death of a Salesman
  5. Leo Genn, Quo Vadis

1950

  1. George Sanders, All About Eve *
  2. Erich von Stroheim, Sunset Boulevard
  3. Edmund Gwenn, Mister 880
  4. Sam Jaffe, The Asphalt Jungle
  5. Jeff Chandler, Broken Arrow

1949

  1. Ralph Richardson, The Heiress *
  2. Dean Jagger, Twelve O’Clock High
  3. John Ireland, All the King’s Men
  4. James Whitmore, Battleground
  5. Arthur Kennedy, Champion

1948

  1. Walter Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre *
  2. Charles Bickford, Johnny Belinda
  3. Oskar Homolka, I Remember Mama
  4. Cecil Kellaway, The Luck of the Irish
  5. Jose Ferrer, Joan of Arc

1947

  1. Richard Widmark, Kiss of Death *
  2. Edmund Gwenn, Miracle on 34th Street
  3. Robert Ryan, Crossfire
  4. Charles Bickford, The Farmer’s Daughter
  5. Thomas Gomez, Ride the Pink Horse

1946

  1. Charles Coburn, The Green Years *
  2. Claude Rains, Notorious
  3. Harold Russell, The Best Years of Our Lives
  4. Clifton Webb, The Razor’s Edge
  5. William Demarest, The Jolson Story

1945

  1. James Dunn, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn *
  2. Robert Mitchum, The Story of G.I. Joe
  3. J. Carrol Naish, A Medal for Benny
  4. John Dall, The Corn Is Green
  5. Michael Chekhov, Spellbound

 

1944

  1. Barry Fitzgerald, Going My Way *
  2. Monty Woolley, Since You Went Away
  3. Claude Rains, Mr. Skeffington
  4. Clifton Webb, Laura
  5. Hume Cronyn, The Seventh Cross

1943

  1. Claude Rains, Casablanca *
  2. Charles Coburn, The More the Merrier
  3. J. Carrol Naish, Sahara
  4. Akim Tamiroff, For Whom the Bell Tolls
  5. Charles Bickford, The Song of Bernadette

1942

  1. Van Heflin, Johnny Eager *
  2. Frank Morgan, Tortilla Flat
  3. Walter Huston, Yankee Doodle Dandy
  4. William Bendix, Wake Island
  5. Henry Travers, Mrs. Miniver

1941

  1. Donald Crisp, How Green Was My Valley *
  2. Sydney Greenstreet, The Maltese Falcon
  3. James Gleason, Here Comes Mr. Jordan
  4. Charles Coburn, The Devil and Miss Jones
  5. Walter Brennan, Sergeant York

1940

  1. Walter Brennan, The Westerner *
  2. James Stephenson, The Letter
  3. Jack Oakie, The Great Dictator
  4. Albert Bassermann, Foreign Correspondent
  5. William Gargan, They Knew What They Wanted

1939

  1. Thomas Mitchell, Stagecoach *
  2. Claude Rains, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  3. Brian Aherne, Juarez
  4. Harry Carey, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  5. Brian Donlevy, Beau Geste

1938

  1. Basil Rathbone, If I Were King *
  2. Robert Morley, Marie Antoinette
  3. Walter Brennan, Kentucky
  4. Gene Lockhart, Algiers
  5. John Garfield, Four Daughters

1937

  1. Joseph Schildkraut, The Life of Emile Zola *
  2. Thomas Mitchell, The Hurricane
  3. H.B. Warner, Lost Horizon
  4. Roland Young, Topper
  5. Ralph Bellamy, The Awful Truth

1936

  1. Walter Brennan, Come and Get It *
  2. Basil Rathbone, Romeo and Juliet
  3. Akim Tamiroff, The General Died at Dawn
  4. Mischa Auer, My Man Godfrey
  5. Stuart Erwin, Pigskin Parade

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