2018 Oscars Preview - Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actor is a category where the person's entire career seems to weigh heavily on the outcome. Have they been doing unrecognized work for a while? Is this going to be one of the few remaining chances to honor them? Is the work a standout in an already impressive career? All of these come together to form the kind of narrative that can take a well-respected actor all the way to the stage and potentially even change the roles they are given in the future. Let's take a look at who in this year's crowd makes the most sense on paper.
Woody Harrelson - The Glass Castle
While he is something of a household name, with his big break coming over 30 years ago on the sitcom, Cheers, many don't realize how much great work he has done in recent years. It is easy to overlook in the moment, but he has been consistently putting out great work. No Country For Old Men, The Messenger, The Edge of Seventeen and even The Hunger Games series. They all featured his considerable talents and some brand of that dry wit and offbeat sense of humor. If he could manage to make a lineup, winning would be a distinct possibility.
Michael Shannon - The Current War
As one of my favorite actors working today, Michael Shannon's brooding intensity has been use to bring characters to life in films like 99 Homes, Loving and most recently his Oscar nominated turn in Nocturnal Animals. This year he is set to play George Westinghouse, the nemesis of Thomas Edison, as they both seek to harness electricity. Shannon is the kind of guy who can get nominated even when he isn't on anyone's radar, so watch out for him to be a threat to win if the film is a major player.
Ben Mendelsohn - Darkest Hour
Mendelsohn is the definition of veteran actor overdue for recognition. With a career stretching back to the 80s and credits in everything from The New World to Rogue One, Mendelsohn is a face many know but can't place. Starring opposite Gary Oldman in this WWII saga that follows Winston Churchill, it is hard to imagine a race that won't at least include him as an honorable mention in the end. The film will be a big player and he should have no problem coming along for the ride.
Michael Stuhlbarg - Call Me By Your Name
Michael Stuhlbarg is a veteran character actor who has floated just off Oscar's radar for a while now. Perhaps best known for his role in HBO's Boardwalk Empire, he has been in several films that received one type of Oscar attention or another. Namely, Blue Jasmine, A Serious Man and Trumbo. While he has never been nominated, Call Me By Your Name has been getting the kind of early reviews that mean it is probably a safe bet to be in the picture up until the very end. Like many, his fortunes will rise and fall with those of the film, but he is definitely a name to watch in the coming months.
Steve Buscemi - Lean On Pete
If you make a list of criminally underrated actors, it shouldn't take long to get to this guy. Although he too may be best known for his role on HBO's Boardwalk Empire at this point, his career is long and varied. With standout performances in everything from Reservoir Dogs to Fargo, he is arguably the most overdue of anyone for an Oscar nomination.
Jason Mitchell - Mudbound
With his breakout role coming a couple of years ago as Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton, Jason Mitchell is a name many have been excited to watch. While relatively young, his obvious talents mean he could be coming back to this conversation over and over again in a long career. This year, starring in Dee Rees' Mudbound, he plays a member of a family that has relocated to Mississippi and must grapple with their new reality. It is a film that is definitely expected to make noise, so Mitchell should be on any list for this category.
Oscar Isaac - Suburbicon
As far as young actors go, you would be hard pressed to find one turning in more consistently excellent work than Oscar Isaac. Whether it is the latest Star Wars or a small-budget Coen Brothers production, Isaac always brings his A+ game. Suburbicon is a crime comedy directed by George Clooney, written by the Coen brothers and starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Josh Brolin. This film is dripping with the kind of prestige that could be just enough to make sure his stellar work does not go unnoticed.
Sterling K Brown - Marshall
Like others on this list, Brown's breakout came on the small screen. He was a major part of a universally praised ensemble in last year's The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. He played prosecutor, Christopher Darden, and was awarded a Primetime Emmy and several awards. Marshall tells the story of the career of Thurgood Marshall and Brown will play the role of one of his first clients. No stranger to courtroom drama, this is likely a performance that is worth looking out for.
As always, this list is too early to be complete, so here are a few other names to keep in mind as the same gets here: Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project, Laurence Fishburne - Last Flag Flying, Javier Bardem - mother! and John Boyega - Detroit. Stay tuned!
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