News

Rotten Tomatoes' Early Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

Pesci, Pacino, Pitt: It's a battle of the megastars when it comes to Supporting Actors this year.

by | November 6, 2019 | Comments

Netflix
(Photo by Courtesy of Netflix)

We’re at the stage in awards season where we can mostly peg who’s competing for Lead Actor and who is competing for Supporting. Though there has been no ‘official’ word yet on Christian Bale and Matt Damon for Ford vs. Ferrari, early whispers have both Oscar winners going lead. In truth, the supporting performances prove the hardest because the category on both sides is often stacked with leading performances that are being positioned for supporting to up their chances of winning.

For the supporting performances in 2020, we see a reversal of previous years. The men seem to have the hardest path to a nomination, while the female side is relatively more straightforward. As with our Best Actor predictions, the list of male supporting performances runs deep, with several marquee names and newcomers in contention. Post-TIFF-Telluride-Venice, a number of the films likely to be in the conversation have already screened and earned Tomatometer scores, plus the pundits are already singling out the major standout performances in them. We’re sifting through all that noise and breaking down our  early picks for 2020 Best Supporting Actor contenders.

Don’t agree with our picks? Have at us in the comments.


Sterling K. Brown Waves (2019) 84%

Who doesn’t love Sterling K. Brown? The This Is Us star has charmed his way into the hearts of America with his moving and hilarious portrayal of Randall on the hit NBC drama. Even more impressive, the actor managed that while filming his performance in the third effort for up-and-coming indie favorite Trey Edward Shults – that’s right, he shot a full feature film while the weekly drama was still in production. Waves is a film that is best enjoyed when you go in knowing as little as possible, so we don’t want to give too much away here, but the Emmy winner’s turn as the stern and demanding father to Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s model minority son is frightening, charismatic, and gut-wrenching. Perhaps the largest obstacle in the way of Brown making it to Oscar night will be how the Academy reacts to the film’s distinctive narrative style.


Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) 95%

It is fitting that the nicest and most beloved man in Hollywood would portray the nicest man to ever grace our television screens. Fred Rogers was an icon of children’s television and a relentless advocate for the value of carving out a safe space for children on our airways. Since the first trailer was released back in July – and sometime before that, if we’re being are honest – Tom Hanks has been on just about every prognosticator’s shortlist for Oscar glory. (Though the same was said of his performance in The Post back in 2018, and he failed to garner a nomination.) Marielle Heller, who directed Richard E. Grant and Melissa McCarthy to dual Oscar nominations last year in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, is poised to maybe do the same for Hanks and lead Matthew Rhys in 2020. Perhaps after a couple of nominations for Heller’s film, we can finally get over the fact the Mr. Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? failed to make it to Oscar night this year.


Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, The Irishman (2019) 96%

Netflix
(Photo by Netflix)

Last year, during the Oscars ceremony, as Netflix was racking up multiple wins from its 15 nominations, the studio opted to play a teaser for Martin Scorsese’s upcoming and long-awaited film The Irishman. It was a signal to the Academy and anyone who was watching that regardless of what happened that night, they were just getting started. With the movie currently Certified Fresh at 97% on the Tomatometer, Scorsese and company are set to rack up multiple nominations, including likely dual nominations for Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. The latter came out of retirement to play quietly menacing mob figure Russell Bufalino in the film, while Pacino portrays the teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa. Both men are operating at the height of their powers for this new mob epic based on a script by Steven Zaillian. The only thing standing in the way of Pacino or Pesci taking home the top prize is Brad Pitt, but more on that later.


Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy (2020) 84%

Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Academy is particularly fond of films that pair riveting performances with a timely message (see BlacKkKlansman and Get Out for recent examples). Just Mercy is a true-life adaptation of Bryan Stevenson’s book chronicling the Harvard Lawyer’s founding of the Equal Justice Initiative and his attempts to navigate the perilous world of death row incarceration and bring exoneration to those wrongly convicted. Set in the heart of Alabama, the book and movie from director Destin Daniel Cretton both shine a light on the systematic racism of our criminal justice system, which so often unjustly incarcerates African-Americans. One of Stevenson’s first and most high-profile clients, Walter McMillian, is the focus of the narrative and is brought to life by Jamie Foxx. Foxx is powerful and tragic as the downhearted inmate just months away from execution, and he is getting his best reviews since his Oscar-winning role in Ray. Foxx’s history with the Academy and the film’s subject matter place him as a strong contender, though if there were any real justice in this world, his co-star Rob Morgan would be right there in contention with him for his brief but powerful depiction of another death row inmate.


Brad Pitt Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) 85%

With such a stacked field, star power could be the thing that tips the vote – and no one has more star power than Brad Pitt. Now that we are confident the A-lister is competing for the supporting category and not for lead, we are placing our money on his chances for a nomination and potentially winning it all. Pitt’s quiet confidence and cocksure smile as strong and silent stuntman Cliff Booth has charmed both critics and audiences alike. Though the star has come out saying that he doesn’t plan to campaign, the veteran actor and producer may not have much to say in the matter; it is the studio and friends of potential nominees that have more say in how the film is rolled out to critics and Academy members.


Also in contention: 

  • Timothée Chalamet (Little Women)
  • Anthony Hopkins (Two Popes)
  • Rob Morgan (Just Mercy)
  • Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy)
  • Wesley Snipes (Dolemite Is My Name)
  • Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco)
  • Jamie Bell (Rocketman)
  • Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse)
  • Alan Alda (Marriage Story)

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

X-Men superhero BET Awards reboot movie Christmas YouTube video on demand Country Thanksgiving Vudu Opinion singing competition Stephen King cancelled TV shows stand-up comedy Pirates witnail criterion A24 boxoffice revenge Anna Paquin Tarantino AMC halloween cartoon asian-american zero dark thirty Spike zombie cancelled TV series die hard tv talk DC streaming service critics Drama Calendar Red Carpet unscripted National Geographic Binge Guide documentaries dc Pet Sematary SXSW ratings Amazon Prime Video Winter TV Martial Arts war hollywood sequels ABC Family blaxploitation 2019 FOX award winner Crackle Horror satire Classic Film based on movie docudrama Family USA Network Travel Channel Super Bowl Reality Competition Pixar Fall TV Apple TV Plus Winners Reality TNT Captain marvel comic Sneak Peek Avengers crime thriller aliens book diversity Song of Ice and Fire 45 Acorn TV Lifetime Christmas movies Amazon A&E Rocketman free movies Logo Video Games parents binge Warner Bros. Music rotten movies we love TV renewals Freeform Awards Tour Lucasfilm batman blockbuster Apple renewed TV shows Chilling Adventures of Sabrina cancelled television 71st Emmy Awards 24 frames Western 2017 werewolf Cosplay CBS discovery supernatural Hallmark CNN anthology stoner MCU SDCC spinoff OneApp Box Office Baby Yoda New York Comic Con comedies IFC Films FX finale what to watch documentary Summer Funimation movies TV Land biography The Witch chucky police drama CW Seed romantic comedy Marvel Studios a nightmare on elm street President Discovery Channel Ellie Kemper WarnerMedia teaser See It Skip It Disney Channel all-time social media Grammys dogs E3 Tubi zombies American Society of Cinematographers Disney psychological thriller Sony Pictures news Sundance Now twilight TLC casting dramedy RT21 SundanceTV Adult Swim LGBTQ Superheroes Election Women's History Month YouTube Red NYCC BBC America dragons Emmy Nominations theme song Masterpiece festivals Showtime obituary Pop Film Television Academy nature Creative Arts Emmys toy story Extras Columbia Pictures mission: impossible Syfy Biopics OWN spanish language BET ghosts TCA Winter 2020 Brie Larson justice league Schedule disaster Musical Comedy Central FX on Hulu APB GIFs sports best Hallmark Christmas movies CMT game of thrones Best and Worst Netflix Christmas movies BBC One ITV History San Diego Comic-Con 007 GoT LGBT comiccon Mary Poppins Returns cars Academy Awards Pride Month TBS anime Epix natural history IFC NBC Spring TV HBO Go Sci-Fi ESPN Countdown psycho PlayStation Toys joker The Purge Bravo Peacock crime drama child's play Watching Series DirecTV television children's TV animated mutant Black History Month Comic Book laika Disney streaming service Pop TV Comics on TV series nbcuniversal Tumblr TIFF Spectrum Originals Black Mirror doctor who talk show El Rey 21st Century Fox franchise HBO Chernobyl Sundance Lifetime The Walking Dead Polls and Games cults streaming Rom-Com Mary Tyler Moore TCM Photos Holidays hispanic Valentine's Day Action serial killer Shondaland rotten GLAAD Star Wars Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt TV strong female leads fast and furious science fiction Marathons Arrowverse sequel Mary poppins foreign slashers Fantasy DC Comics richard e. Grant 2018 Fox News 4/20 Writers Guild of America mockumentary cops south america VH1 Emmys Marvel Paramount Universal period drama RT History Musicals kids cancelled MTV screen actors guild facebook Holiday 20th Century Fox Elton John universal monsters indie Dark Horse Comics Infographic 2016 historical drama Apple TV+ BAFTA Nat Geo FXX sitcom Set visit WGN latino canceled TV shows space TruTV DGA Trivia technology Hear Us Out Quiz Hulu directors thriller Television Critics Association TCA green book quibi Oscars Rock Netflix cooking Kids & Family comics hist reviews Certified Fresh name the review Star Trek 2020 TCA 2017 Trophy Talk Teen PBS Year in Review dark spy thriller Mudbound Ovation Animation Britbox Character Guide Rocky scary movies Disney Plus Food Network Starz spider-man transformers medical drama Amazon Prime 2015 harry potter political drama miniseries Walt Disney Pictures Mystery indiana jones stop motion Turner Classic Movies films Cannes Cartoon Network Paramount Network PaleyFest The CW Awards Film Festival dceu robots spain Heroines true crime breaking bad adaptation classics Sundance TV Superheroe Premiere Dates CBS All Access USA Nickelodeon Endgame elevated horror romance politics DC Universe Disney+ Disney Plus christmas movies Lionsgate cats ABC Turner cinemax First Look golden globes TCA Awards Marvel Television crime Comedy VOD adventure video worst Mindy Kaling Nominations YouTube Premium Esquire BBC Amazon Studios E! VICE Interview First Reviews Podcast crossover game show MSNBC Tomatazos Crunchyroll sag awards 72 Emmy Awards independent canceled vampires concert screenings jamie lee curtis The Arrangement Trailer versus HBO Max travel Ghostbusters emmy awards YA composers Shudder