2020 Oscar Category Breakdown: Best Supporting Actor

Today is Best Supporting Actor, a category that has been really solid in recent years. And also really easy to guess. This year is no different. We basically know who’s gonna win from a mile out. Which really just means that I have to figure out what the hell to say here to justify an intro rather than a one-sentence article.

Honestly, I don’t really have anything. So let’s just get into the category.

Best Supporting Actor

Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami

Paul Raci, Sound of Metal

LaKeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah

This was an interesting category throughout the process, because early on you saw Jared Leto and Bill Murray start to make lists, and people like me who’ve done this for a while went, “There’s no way that’s happening.” You knew Cohen, you knew Kaluuya and you know Odom pretty easy. They were on all the lists. And pretty quick you kinda figured Raci would be the fourth, especially after he got nominated at BAFTA. But none of us could figure out who was gonna be #5, which meant that it was gonna be someone coming out of nowhere. I assumed it would be Alan Kim from Minari. For two reasons: 1) he’s adorable and charming and the exact kind of person who would miss all the precursors, and 2) I just assumed LaKeith Stanfield was the damn lead of the movie. He’s JUDAS to Kaluuya’s Black Messiah. The movie’s about him betraying Hampton. But they voted for him here, which I’m not sure anyone could’ve guessed, but he’s a very welcome fifth choice and get end up with a really solid category because of it.

5. Paul Raci, Sound of Metal — He’s the most unknown actor here, and while he is quite good in the movie, without any precursor wins (though theoretically BAFTA could happen, but I’m not sure any of us expects it to), I’m not sure he’s anything other than happy to be here.

4. LaKeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah — Without precursor nominations, it’s hard to call him more than fourth at the moment. However, I’ll tell you right now — come Oscar night, I might have him bumped up to third. ONLY because at that point the next two actors would have been nominated alongside and lost to Daniel Kaluuya the entire way. Which means that we know their preference. Stanfield is an unknown there and the fresh-face might prove a nice alternative to people who might not think Kaluuya’s the choice for them. I can’t do it now, and ultimately it’s all window dressing since we know where the category’s going, but to me he’s a more compelling case than most people by just having not lost to Kaluuya every step of the way.

3. Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami — Right now he’s the third choice because he’s one of the three people nominated everywhere at the precursors. But he’s won nothing to this point and when he loses BAFTA he’ll be 0-4 against Kaluuya. He’s also looking like he might win Original Song, which people, if they’re even aware it’s him, might see as the consolation prize. You have to have him third now, but like I said with Stanfield — the unknown might end up being the more intriguing option than the known commodity. I’m not sure Odom wins this either way, so I don’t know why you’d keep him as a potential upset winner when you’ve seen him lose all the way through.

2. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 — No matter what happens I feel like I’d keep him as second choice just because you can always count on a contingency of old white people to make old white people choices and stick with something like this. There’s almost no way he wins. It would be one of the biggest upsets of all time if he did. But he feels like a second choice all the way just because he seems like the most ‘old white person choice’ on this list.

1. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah — He’s won SAG, BFCA and the Globe and he’s probably gonna win BAFTA. That’s about as sure-thing as you’re gonna get and this looks basically like a done deal. He’d probably have to do something real fucked up to lose it at this point and he doesn’t seem like the kinda guy who’s gonna do that. Either way, he’s still the overwhelming favorite here and it’s foolish to try to claim otherwise.

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