What is Going on with Supporting Actress?

The Supporting Actress race has been one of the most unpredictable races all season. From the Women Talking actresses floating around on the outside of the category to Carey Mulligan and Dolly de Leon both picking up precursor nominations, we have not had much of a consensus in the Supporting Actress race all season. So, of our five nominees… who is the frontrunner? 

For many, Angela Bassett was the frontrunner early in the season. The Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer showed off her impressive performance with clips many correctly felt the Academy would go for. While Bassett early on won the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress, neither of those voting bodies overlap with the Academy. She has landed nominations at SAG and BAFTA, but lost out on both of those.

At BAFTA, many expected Kerry Condon to win for her performance in The Banshees of Inisherin. The film was always expected to be heavily embraced by the British voting body and she seemed like an easy win to secure for the film. While The Banshees of Inisherin did not pick up as many wins as anticipated at the BAFTAs, Condon did pick up a win for Best Supporting Actress. BAFTA does have crossover with the Academy voting body, so while you could argue ‘she was always expected to win here,’ it’s still important to note the win. 

Bassett was heavily predicted to win at SAG, which has the exact same lineup of nominees as the Oscars. She had previously won at SAG for Best Ensemble for the first Black Panther film. Jamie Lee Curtis was not heavily predicted to win at SAG but had a compelling narrative and is nominated for her work in a Best Picture frontrunner. Curtis ended up winning at SAG for her performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once, which also won Best Ensemble, Lead Actress and Supporting Actor with the guild. SAG shares quite a bit of overlap with Academy voters and given the lineup is the exact same at the Oscars for this category, it’s an important win. 

Hong Chau in The Whale feels like an outlier as her film underperformed with nominations at the Oscars, missing out on Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture, as many had predicted the film to pick up nominations there. Chau did receive BAFTA, SAG and then her Oscar nomination for her performance. Stephanie Hsu was not nominated at BAFTA, but did receive a SAG nomination ahead of her Oscar nomination. Hsu was part of the Best Ensemble win at SAG and has the advantage of being part of the Best Picture frontrunner and has a show of strength with her film receiving nominations from most branches in the Academy. 

Supporting Actress has seen a trend of being a lone winner for a film since the 2014 Oscars; including Ariana DeBose in West Side Story, Youn Yuh-jung in Minari, and Laura Dern in Marriage Story, so that could be a great stat for Bassett. However, she does not have a Best Picture nomination alongside her. If The Banshees of Inisherin underperforms overall, this stat could hold up if Condon were to win. Both Hsu and Curtis most certainly will not be the only win for their film if either of them was to win. 

To argue a win for Bassett, it would be most similar to Regina King, who won in 2019 for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk. The film did not receive a Best Picture nomination and King did not win either BAFTA or SAG; she actually was snubbed from even being nominated at both award shows. Similar to Bassett, King also won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. SAG’s Best Supporting Actress that year went to Emily Blunt for A Quiet Place, who was not even nominated for the Oscar. The BAFTA went to Rachel Weisz (The Favourite), who did have an Oscar nomination in the category. Weisz was nominated against her co-star Emma Stone, which one could say split votes, similar to Hsu and Curtis. King ended up winning the Oscar.

My only call out here would be that Everything Everywhere All at Once is not only a huge contender to win Best Picture, but the film is shaping out to be a huge winner across the board whereas The Favourite, which had two Supporting Actress competitors for King was only able to pick up one win (Olivia Colman in Lead Actress). Comparing the competition with King to Bassett’s competition with the Everything Everywhere actresses is not exactly the same. 

Curtis delivered a passionate speech that landed well with many across the board right before Oscar voting started. While Condon’s film has been underperforming at every stop, Curtis and Hsu’s film has been overperforming. Everything Everywhere All at Once has won PGA, DGA, and SAG and is on track to win at WGA and ACE next week. With the film around them picking up steam, Curtis and perhaps Hsu could be at the forefront of voters’ minds. Curtis does seem more likely as an industry veteran with a somewhat ‘overdue’ narrative. Hsu is a newcomer to the awards body, which could make Curtis a more friendly box to check for voters wanting to support Everything Everywhere

I still think there’s an argument to be made for almost every nominee in the Supporting Actress category except Chau (sorry, queen). As of right now, I feel most confident about Curtis, but see Condon floating outside.  

Check out our team’s predictions for Supporting Actress here.

You can also read our reviews of The Whale, Everything Everywhere All at Once, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

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