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Thursday, February 09, 2017

The 89th Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor

In the Supporting Actor category, there seems to be a clear favorite: Mahershala Ali, for his role as a kindly drug dealer in Moonlight. Ali won many critics' awards, though he was upset by Aaron-Taylor Johnson of Nocturnal Animals at the Golden Globes. But Taylor-Johnson was not even nominated for an Oscar, so after winning the SAG Award, Ali's path seems clear. After two years of no acting nominees of color, it seems likely that both Oscars for supporting performances will go to black actors.

The possible upset here would be Jeff Bridges for his role as the droll Texas Ranger in Hell or High Water. Bridges was great, and is a popular actor with the Academy, and if he had never won before he would be the favorite. But he got his career award for Crazy Heart, and has won no precursors.

The rest of the category can save time by not writing any speeches. Dev Patel was fine in Lion, as the grown up Indian boy looking for his mother after being adopted by Australians. Patel, only 26, has established a career very quickly as the go-to East Indian actor (though he is British by birth) appearing in Slumdog Millionaire and both Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films. This is his first nomination--I expect more to come, but not this year.

But Patel is not the youngest in this category. Lucas Hedges, as the troubled teen in Manchester by the Sea, is only 20. If he were to win, he would just beat Timothy Hutton as the youngest ever to win this category, but I don't see it happening. He should enjoy the party.

Finally, Michael Shannon better win an Oscar one day. He makes every role he plays interesting, and he's got a good one in Nocturnal Animals as a detective with a Biblical sense of justice. I might be tempted to vote for Shannon here, except for a scene in Moonlight that Ali just kills, and he doesn't even say a word.

Will win: Ali
Could win: Bridges
Should win: Ali
Should have been nominated: Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash

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