Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea)
Dev Patel (Lion)
Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
The race for Best Supporting Actor has been rather tumultuous over the last few months. It began early on with Mahershala Ali having a clear lead as he swept most of the local guild awards. Yet as the ‘big’ award shows started announcing their nominations and eventually, their winners, Jeff Bridges began to gain momentum. This was likely due to his film Hell or High Water gaining traction outside of industry circles and Bridges being a traditional favourite, already with an Oscar under his belt. Going into the Golden Globes, Mahershala Ali had just won the Critics Choice Award, often seen as the first award needed to take the Oscar, and Bridges was beginning to pick up a few smaller awards. The race between the two was close, but most still expected Ali to take the Globe. Instead, out of no where, Aaron Taylor-Johnson of Nocturnal Animals won, putting the entire race into disarray. But Taylor-Johnson was unable to garner himself am Oscar nom, one of the first times in history where the Globe winner was not even nominated at the ceremony. Michael Shannon, an awards darling (though never winner), was given the Nocturnal Animals acting nomination instead, and the race seemed to realign itself as one between Ali and Bridges. Ali would go onto win the SAG award and his momentum seemed impossible to stop… that was until the BAFTAs, when Dev Patel shook the race up again by winning the Best Supporting Actor award.
Following these precursors, it looks as if the award is between Ali and Patel, with Bridges not winning a major award and therefore losing traction. The nomination was a win for Hedges, and as said, Shannon always gets nominated for awards and never wins. My pick to win is still Ali, for a number of reasons. Firstly, he has the SAG award. The SAG has the greatest cross-over with the Oscars and therefore out of all precursor awards, they are seen to be the most reliable. Ali also stars in Moonlight, a film that is incredibly culturally and socially relevant, and considering the OscarSoWhite controversy of last year, the Academy may want to award the Oscar to an African-American talent. It is also worth noting that Ali is one of a group of actors that has been working for many decades, but only recently gained mainstream appeal (Ali has appeared in House of Cards and The Hunger Games Franchise). To award a POC actor that has wider appeal seems like a good idea, yet, one could also argue that Patel represents a more culturally involved choice. As a British Indian, the Academy may want to share the love to others cultures (with African American Viola Davis likely to win Supporting Actress), and make the ceremony seem like a global affair. Patel’s chances have skyrocketed since the BAFTAs, but I believe his win should also be asterisked with the fact that he is British, and looking at the dominance of British talent at the British award show, this may have been an influence. This race could really go either way, but due to Ali’s previous awards, his social status, star power and a memorable speech at the SAG awards, he is my pick.
Potential Spoiler: Dev Patel