2020 Oscar Predictions — Best Supporting Actor

As we head into the Screen Actors Guild awards, which will help clarify the frontrunners in the four Oscar acting races, perhaps it is a good time to look at the Academy’s nominees and their current place in the Best Supporting Actor race.

Of all the acting categories, Supporting Actor is, I think, the one without a clear frontrunner. In the other three categories, it is a matter of one nominee poised to win, where any other winner would be viewed as an upset. In this category, there are three actors in this category who could win this award.

The Nominees:

  • Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes
  • Al Pacino – The Irishman
  • Joe Pesci – The Irishman
  • Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Will Win: Brad Pitt

Could Win: Al Pacino

Dark Horse: Joe Pesci


Let’s work from the bottom on this one. You can automatically remove one actor from this category, Anthony Hopkins. The Academy has made a weird push for Netflix’s The Two Popes, but in both acting categories it reads like honoring veteran actors even though no one is prepared to vote for them. For Hopkins, he did not receive a Screen Actors Guild nomination. Jamie Foxx is the deviation here, and it is possible that the late and soft release of Just Mercy made it a difficult sell for the Academy.

Then there’s Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a film which has a prestige feel to it but received no other nominations. The film did disappear somewhat before awards season even began, and another win for Hanks for this role seems unlikely. He did just receive the Cecil B. deMille award and delivered a teary speech in the way only America’s Father could do. And his reactions to Ricky Gervais’ monologue at that awards ceremony were instantly memed. Perhaps these things put him more in the general cultural conversation going into Academy voting, but they are really just blips in an otherwise quiet Oscar campaign.

Early in awards season, I pegged this category as going to one of the two supporting players in The Irishman. Pacino seemed more primed for it (although I personally prefer Pesci in the film). Since the Golden Globes, it is less clear if one of the two can pull it out. Brad Pitt’s Golden Globe was not the final nail in this race’s coffin. As always, the refrain is that the Jan. 19 Screen Actors Guild awards could confirm his frontrunner status or break this race back open.

All the same, it reads right now as if this is Pitt’s award to lose. I don’t feel that this is a major determining factor, but it may be worth noting that Pitt is the only actor in the category to never win an Oscar for acting (he previously won for producing the Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave). And if Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is going to take away any award, it is most likely to be in this category or in Best Original Screenplay. There has been some conversation in recent years about Academy voters “spreading the love” and awarding different movies in different categories. If this happens in 2020, it could bode well for Pitt.


As always, thanks for reading!

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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)


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