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Auto-fictional Characters Fill Best Supporting Actor Race

Certain contenders for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar benefit from being able to avoid too close comparisons to others.

Ke Huy Quan in "Everything Everywhere All at Once"

Ke Huy Quan in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

A24/Everett Collection

This article contains IndieWire’s past Best Supporting Actor predictions for the 2023 Oscars. We regularly update our predictions throughout awards season, and republish previous versions (like this one) for readers to track changes in how the Oscar race has changed. For the latest update on the frontrunners for the 95th Academy Awards, see our 2023 Oscars predictions hub.

We will update all our Oscar predictions throughout the season, so keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Oscar race. The nomination round of voting will take place from January 12 to January 17, 2023, with the official Oscar nominations announced on January 24, 2023. The final voting is between March 2 and 7, 2023. Finally, the 95th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 12 and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See our initial thoughts for what to expect at the 95th Academy Awards here.

The State of the Race

As the end of fall draws near, there are two contenders from films that festival goers have already seen that needed to clarify if they would campaign for Best Supporting Actor: “The Banshees of Inisherin” star Brendan Gleeson and “The Good Nurse” star Eddie Redmayne.

Both now officially being in the mix changes the direction of how final nominations will go. Gleeson brings grace to such an immovable character, with seemingly abrupt reasons for cutting off contact with his friend played by Colin Farrell (an “In Bruges” reunion). The standout role, both twisted and tender, was enough to net him a plum spot hosting “Saturday Night Live” recently, a gig that recent Oscar winners like Daniel Kaluuya and Ariana DeBose had as part of their awards campaign as well. Being able to go on the journey alongside longtime friends Farrell and writer-director Martin McDonagh will help as well, in a “rising tide lifts all boats” sense. Even Barry Keoghan can get in for his part in the film, which has an arc that goes from brash to heartbreaking, similar to how Woody Harrelson got a nomination next to eventual winner Sam Rockwell for McDonagh’s last film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” a film audiences were more mixed on than this movie.

Redmayne, the titular character in the Netflix medical thriller, plays a much less esteemed character than audiences are used to seeing him play, which makes for an interesting viewing experience. Though “The Good Nurse” is less polished than standard awards fare, the Oscar-winning actor nails the duality of his character, who is based on a real, infamous person. Since it’s of the true crime genre, the film is likely to catch fire when it arrives on Netflix, meaning that Redmayne’s work can generate more conversation among the general public, making it a movie Oscar voters feel pressured to move up their watchlists.

Though they are in vastly different films, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Ke Huy Quan and “Women Talking” star Ben Whishaw are supporting actors that give an assist to the women that are frontrunners for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively, while still getting their own poignant moment to shine. Their roles are a welcome relief from the rest of the crowd of contenders, mostly from films where the writer-director replays moments from their childhood that meditate on class, race, and mental health.

Though “The Fabelmans” is currently a frontrunner for Best Picture, and his scenery-chewing will wow certain voters, it’s still to be determined if veteran actor Judd Hirsch can be nominated for being in just one albeit very memorable scene from it. Since James Gray’s “Armageddon Time” and Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light” explore such similar subject matter, the Best Supporting Actor conversation between the three films becomes its own awards race. Hirsch’s great uncle character is showcased better than Anthony Hopkins’ grandfather role in “Armageddon Time,” but Jeremy Strong’s turn as a conflicted father in the latter film is more layered than Paul Dano’s dad role in “The Fabelmans.” Micheal Ward is the only young actor from the three films to really have any chance of an Oscar nomination, and it is mostly because he plays the love interest for perennial Oscar nominee Olivia Colman in “Empire of Light” (however the film itself has the most tepid reviews of the bunch).

Woody Harrelson (“Triangle of Sadness”), Mark Rylance (“Bones and All”), and Brian Tyree Henry (“Causeway”) all give reliably great performances, but they may not be able to get the same big push as the ones from films with a real shot at Best Picture. If Brad Pitt plays a significant enough part in Damien Chazelle’s latest Hollywood spectacle “Babylon,” the recent Oscar winner has the best chance of shaking up this year’s Best Supporting Actor race, but it will be a while before the Paramount Christmas release screens.

Contenders are listed in alphabetical order, below. No actor will be deemed a frontrunner until we have seen the film.

Frontrunners:
Brendan Gleeson (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Barry Keoghan (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
Eddie Redmayne (“The Good Nurse”)
Ben Whishaw (“Women Talking”)

Contenders:
Paul Dano (“The Fabelmans”)
Woody Harrelson (“Triangle of Sadness”)
Brian Tyree Henry (“Causeway”)
Judd Hirsch (“The Fabelmans”)
Anthony Hopkins (“Armageddon Time”)
Brad Pitt (“Babylon”)
Mark Rylance (“Bones and All”)
Jeremy Strong (“Armageddon Time”)
Micheal Ward (“Empire of Light”)

Long Shots:
Don Cheadle (“White Noise”)
Ralph Fiennes (“The Menu”)
Tom Hanks (“Elvis”)
Toby Jones (“Empire of Light”)
Tobey Maguire (“Babylon”)
Harry Melling (“The Pale Blue Eye”)
Glen Powell (“Devotion”)
Seth Rogen (“The Fabelmans”)
Miles Teller (“Top Gun: Maverick”)
Stanley Tucci (“I Wanna Dance with Somebody”)

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