Oscar Predictions 2014: Supporting Actor

The Best Supporting Actor category at this year’s Academy Awards is a tough race, because there isn’t a single nominee who doesn’t deserve to be there. All five men brought vastly different roles to the table, and it’s clear that they’re playing to win.

But couldn’t the Academy have, just for a minute, thought to consider that shit and nominate James Franco for Spring Breakers? Franco’s controversial role as Alien in the equally controversial Harmony Korine film was divisive to say the least, but it’s his strongest to date. Plus, wouldn’t it have been wonderful to see that Oscar campaign go on just a little bit longer? Daydreams of what might have been aside, the talent that made the cut is tremendous.

Keep reading for a look at all five nominees for Best Supporting Actor along with my predicted winner in red

Jared Leto Dallas Buyers Club OscarsJared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Why He Was Nominated

It’s no surprise that Jared Leto has been a favorite this awards season, as his role as Rayon, a transwoman with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club provided the most substantial material out of the five nominees. As Rayon, Leto didn’t pander to stereotypes and fall into easy tropes; he played his part with complete dedication and believability, a powerful performance that often overshadowed likely Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey.

Why He Might Win

Leto has racked up every award leading up to the Oscars in his category, except for the BAFTA, for which he was not nominated. It’s just a matter of time before his name is announced on March 2nd.

Why He Might Not Win

Barkhad Abdi of Captain Phillips won the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor, while Leto wasn’t even nominated. It’s a telling sign that Abdi has a shot at the Oscar, and that Leto could be a little less secure in his victory than we might think.

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Barkhad Abdi in Captain PhillipsBarkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

Why He Was Nominated

The leader of the pirates who infiltrate the freight ship manned by Tom Hanks and his crew in Captain Phillips, Barkhad Abdi is the first Somali to be nominated in the acting categories at the Academy Awards. With Captain Phillips, Abdi nabbed his first role ever, and proved himself so masterful in his rookie performance that he scored the BAFTA win against more seasoned awards contenders like Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill.

Why He Might Win

The Academy loves a first-time nominee, and the fact that this is Abdi’s first film ever makes his performance that much more remarkable. He’s a standout among familiar faces. His BAFTA win is also a sign that he’s not being discounted.

Why He Might Not Win

Being an unfamiliar face could also work to his disadvantage. The BAFTA win in a sea of Jared Leto victories isn’t an indicator of Oscar gold.

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Bradley Cooper in American HustleBradley Cooper, American Hustle

Why He Was Nominated

As poor, manipulated FBI agent Richie DeMaso in American Hustle, Bradley Cooper had some of the best moments of comedic relief in the film. His interactions with even more dejected FBI agent Louis CK (and that wonderful scene where he impersonates him) made him a standout in a stacked cast.

Why He Could Win

Nominated last year for Best Actor for Silver Linings Playbook, Cooper is up for nomination again in another David O. Russell heavy-hitter. Though Cooper has not collected an award at any show at which he’s been nominated, American Hustle has been cleaning house, winning multiple Best Picture awards as well as serving up recognition for Jennifer Lawrence in the Supporting Actress category. It’s possible that the Hustle fervor will continue on to the Oscars, with Cooper getting swept up in the frenzy.

Why He Might Not Win

While yes, American Hustle is storming and pillaging awards season, it’s unlikely that if the Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress go to the film, it’ll go to Cooper as well. He was great – but not the best part of the production.

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Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a SlaveMichael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave 

Why He Was Nominated

As insane, brutal plantation owner Edwin Epps in 12 Years a Slave, Michael Fassbender committed to a grueling, disturbing performance. In a film full to the brim of horrors, he manages to stand out as truly one of the most atrocious parts – not an easy feat.

Why He Might Win

Fassbender was overlooked in 2011 for his starring turn in 12 Years director Steve McQueen’s Shame, and the world was vocal about it. This could be the year that the Academy makes up for the slight.

Why He Might Not Win

After getting snubbed for Shame, Fassbender has chosen not to campaign this Oscar season for 12 Years a Slave – a choice that could cost him votes for lack of exposure around the Academy.

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Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall StreetJonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

Why He Was Nominated

As the Wolf’s partner in crime, Donnie Azoff, Jonah Hill has accumulated his second Best Supporting Actor nomination – the first being for Moneyball in 2011. On screen, Hill held his own against the manic and mischievous Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, and often came out stealing the scene.

Why He Might Win

For one thing, a man who eats a live goldfish onscreen for the hell of it at least deserves a little trophy for his effort. But Hill’s prolific talent in a sea of debauchery combined with his previous nomination means that he does have a shot for the win.

Why He Might Not Win

Though there’s no denying Hill was a showstopper in Wolf, the real star was clearly DiCaprio; this is his race to win in the Best Actor category.

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Who Should Win: Jared Leto

It’s a good thing that he’s a sure bet to take home the Oscar, because Leto really does deserve to win it for his turn as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. Though I haven’t been a huge fan of his work in previous films – gotta hand it to him as menacing burglar #1 in Panic Room, though – it’s impossible not to see what he’s done with this role. Leto morphed into an unrecognizable character who had depth, beauty and managed to avoid becoming a stereotype. Plus, won’t it be great to see what kind of disheveled-music video-vampire look he brings to the podium? Dude has better hair than me and I’m not even mad.

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Oscar 2014


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