Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Mahershala Ali brings detail and humanity to what is otherwise a pretty lousy film. Through its dated stances on race, its one-dimensional lead in Viggo Mortensen, its clichéd screenplay, and its utter lack of subtlety, Ali shines through like the professional he is. One almost wonders how such a good performance could arise from such a bad film—alas, I don’t know, but what I do know is that Ali delivers excellent work in a movie that’s unsurprisingly become the safe Oscar frontrunner. He’s already won the SAG Award and the Golden Globe; he’ll take home his second Oscar for this as well.
Should Win: Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
One need only watch Adam Driver’s Detective Flip Zimmerman take a lie detector test administered by Klansmen to appreciate just how incredible Driver is in his role. There’s an unshakable intensity to the scene, contrasted throughout the film by a sharp sense of comedic timing and some truly great chemistry with John David Washington’s Ron Stallworth. Driver has spent the past decade cultivating critical acclaim on shows like Girls and working with directors such as Steven Spielberg, the Coen brothers, Jim Jarmusch, and Martin Scorsese. BlacKkKlansman and its resulting Oscar nomination for Driver feel like a culmination of his entire career.
Should Have Been Nominated: Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
The biggest issue I had with Beautiful Boy was the way it truncated what should have been a long and emotional journey into a rushed series of bullet points—the admission of addiction, the rehabilitation, the relapse, the second rehabilitation, the point where a family must withdraw from the addict, so on and so forth. But somehow, Chalamet is able to fill in those gaps, creating a performance so head-and-shoulders above the movie it’s in, one wonders what he was able to pull from the script that the rest of the cast could not. Chalamet was nominated for Best Actor for 2017’s Call Me By Your Name, so his lack of a nomination here comes as a shock (especially since he was nominated at the Golden Globes). Still, nomination or not, Chalamet gives one of the finest supporting performances of 2018.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Like Alison Janney before her (who won last year for I, Tonya), Regina King is an acclaimed television actress finally getting some solid recognition in the film industry. She’s a three-time Emmy winner and has already won a Golden Globe for her performance here. King has always been an actor’s actor—someone who is widely admired by her peers, but not necessarily by the broader institutions in the film industry. That’s going to change tonight, and will hopefully lead to a whole new phase of her career.
Should Win: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
What makes If Beale Street Could Talk stand out from its contemporaries this year is its sheer emotional intelligence. It displays keen insight into everyone’s feelings, allowing the complexities of their sentiments to shine through on their faces. No one projects that kind of nuance in the film quite like Regina King. King has an impressive résumé ranging from the classic Boyz n the Hood to the iconic animated series The Boondocks (on which she voices both leads) to prestige television dramas like ABC’s American Crime and HBO’s The Leftovers, but If Beale Street Could Talk boasts her strongest work to date.
Should Have Been Nominated: Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace
Thomasin McKenzie gave the breakout performance of the year in a film I listed as my second-favorite of 2018. Her performance as Tom is understated and mature, especially impressive coming from a 17-year-old actor. The film as a whole is quiet and introspective, and spends a vast majority of its time with its two leads (the other being Ben Foster) in complete solitude. It’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a general newcomer, but McKenzie handles the challenge with aplomb and intricacy.