Awards season is officially upon us and we're counting down the days until the Oscars on 24th February 2019. Here are our tips for the Best Supporting Actor contenders...
Will Sam Elliott win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for A Star is Born?
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga may have hogged the limelight for the former's directorial debut, but let's not forget about the sturdy background presence of Sam Elliott.
While Cooper and Gaga fashion tender and raw chemistry in this story of romance beset by escalating fame, Elliot plays the brother standing on the sidelines grappling with his own feelings of isolation and betrayal. His tough-talking yet kind-hearted character is also the most perceptive as to where the (ultimately tragic) love story is headed, prompting a final confessional scene between him and Gaga that is outstandingly moving in its believability.
Elliott is an actor often defined by his bass voice and epic moustache, but Cooper's movie offers him a plum role that's wonderfully subtle. (Watch for Elliott's facial expressions after Cooper leaves his car and he drives off – the anguish in those eyes is palpable.) We reckon the veteran performer might have this one in the bag...
Is Michael B. Jordan a Best Supporting Actor contender for Black Panther?
The Oscars have been infamously dismissive of blockbuster cinema in the past, and with their proposed 'Popular Film' category now postponed, it seems unlikely Marvel's terrific Black Panther will be in with a shot at the most coveted prize. This is a real shame as director Ryan Coogler fashions an engrossing blend of popcorn entertainment, visual spectacle and social commentary – the equal of any so-called 'arty' film released this year.
Even so, the Oscars have in the past set a precedent for the Best Supporting Actor category in superhero movies. Let's not forget Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his electrifying Joker in The Dark Knight. We therefore reckon that Michael B. Jordan poses the film's strongest chance of winning, buoyed as he is by unanimous critical and popular acclaim.
Like Ledger's Joker, his character Erik Killmonger is no mere villain but a captivating individual operating by his own rules, the sort that stick in the viewer's mind and force them to question their own sense of ethics, not to mention those of the film's nominal heroes. Jordan's complex, charismatic presence is, we think, the strongest rival to Sam Elliott's crown.
Does Richard E. Grant stand a chance for Can You Ever Really Forgive Me?
Ever since his breakout performance in 1987's seminal Withnail and I, Richard E. Grant has possessed the kind of cult popularity most actors simply dream of. Having endured a mixture of notorious flops (1991's Hudson Hawk) and triumphs (his 2005 directorial debut Wah-Wah), Grant's longevity and versatility is not to be underestimated.
The Academy Awards occasionally have a tendency to honour veterans that may otherwise have been overlooked – Grant has, amazingly, never been nominated, but may well be for his acclaimed turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me? He plays the louche on-screen drinking buddy of Melissa McCarthy in this praised biographical drama, the true story of fraudulent biographer Lee Israel.
Critics have heaped acclaim on McCarthy and Grant's chemistry, while also acknowledging the warmth on display. Grant has been underrated by awards voters for so long, so is this his chance? Consider him the dark horse.
Is Russell Hornsby going to be nominated for The Hate U Give?
Critically acclaimed race relations drama The Hate u Give does a tremendous job of introducing uncomfortable and provocative themes to a teenage audience.
Adapted from Angie Thomas' bestselling novel by late screenwriter Audrey Wells, it tells the story of a young black woman (Amandla Stenberg) who divides her time between her black community and a prestigious white prep school. However, when her friend is shot and killed by a white police officer, she must unite the community in the face of escalating tension.
Several of the movie's most powerful scenes belong to Russell Hornsby as the compelling father figure, a former gangster who has turned his back on the criminal activity rife in his community in order to raise a family. Hornsby is superb as a man caught between the violence of his past and the beauty of his present, as seen from the opening sequence in which he schools his children on how to behave when pulled over by a white police officer. The performance encapsulates the dignity and pain of the narrative, and he could be one the surprise nominations come 2019.
Is Steve Carell a Best Supporting Actor contender for Beautiful Boy?
The Oscars very often cause controversy and confusion as to how they allocate the Best Actor and Supporting Actor categories within the same movie. When it comes to gruelling and powerful drug addiction drama Beautiful Boy, based on the memoirs of Nic and David Sheff, it's unclear how the voting will split between stars Timothee Chalamet (who plays the addicted son) and Steve Carell (playing the long-suffering father).
Given the movie's emotional fireworks and dramatic arc largely rest with Chalamet, it's likely he will nab a nomination for Best Actor while the grounding, understated presence of Carell will meet with a Best Supporting Actor nod. If so, it will be well deserved – Carell underplays the role of the imploding father desperately trying to keep his family together, refusing to grandstand.
Carell has been Oscar nominated before, for 2014's Foxcatcher, so he has past form at the Academy Awards. Even so, there's a strong chance he'll be overshadowed by Chalamet's more attention-grabbing work.
Will Sam Rockwell be nominated for Vice?
This is one that may have passed under your radar. Director Adam McKay's comedy-drama charts the rise of former US Vice President Dick Cheney, played by a typically transformative and unrecognisable Christian Bale. It's McKay's latest bid for Oscars victory following his topical and well-received 2015 financial crisis movie The Big Short, and the show this time may well be stolen by Sam Rockwell.
He plays President George W. Bush in the movie, and if the trailer's anything to go by, he's nailed the former POTUS' characteristic drawl and somewhat bemused air. This may be the more subtle, amusing performance to rival Bale's showier role, and with Rockwell still riding high off his win for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, he could well be lifting another award soon.
Will Mahershala Ali be Oscar nominated for Green Book?
Mahershala Ali won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing an unexpectedly paternal drug pusher in 2016's Moonlight, and he's back in the spotlight with entertaining road trip comedy-drama Green Book.
This story of a mismatched buddy duo travelling across America comes from, of all people, Peter Farrelly, best known until now for collaborating with his brother Bobby on the likes of There's Something About Mary. Critics have however complimented this topical and amusing story of an Italian-American driver (Viggo Mortensen) who must transport an erudite black classical musician (Ali) across country for a concert.
Reports are that Mortensen and Ali share terrific chemistry, and with Ali's previous win still fresh in the mind, he may have a competitive advantage in this year's run for Best Supporting Actor.
Who do you think will walk away with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar? Let us know @Cineworld.
Enjoy all of these Oscar contenders and more with a Cineworld Unlimited membership. From just £17.90 a month, open up a world of possibilities including unlimited movies, advance screenings, restaurant discounts and more. Click here to sign up to Cineworld Unlimited.