ENTERTAINMENT
12/08/2017 10:19 am ET

These 16 Men Are Vying For Best Supporting Actor In The 2018 Oscar Race

Willem Dafoe and Sam Rockwell continue to set the pace in this category.
Sony Pictures Classics/Fox Searchlight/Netflix/A24

We’re just a few days away from the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, and the Oscars’ acting races are taking shape. The first precursor prizes have confirmed early prognostications: Best Supporting Actor is a two-way race between Sam Rockwell and Willem Dafoe, with a handful of spoilers still within arm’s length. 

As we inch closer toward the Jan. 23 Oscar nominations, here are the 16 men chasing this hardware, ranked according to their current likelihood of appearance on the ballot.

  • 16 Ben Mendelsohn, "Darkest Hour"
    Ben Mendelsohn has a tall order in "Darkest Hour," going head to head with Gary Oldman's transcendent Winston Churchill. He&n
    Focus Features
    Ben Mendelsohn has a tall order in "Darkest Hour," going head to head with Gary Oldman's transcendent Winston Churchill. He adopts King George VI's famous stammer without resorting to hammy affectations. In his favor: a rising star that's netted overwhelmingly favorable attention in recent years. Working against him: a smattering of "Darkest Hour" co-stars who are equally impressive, namely Stephen Dillane and Ronald Pickup.
  • 15 Idris Elba, "Molly's Game"
    Even though his undetectable accent in "Molly's Game" is borderline unforgivable, Idris Elba is still Idris Elba: charming, e
    STX Films
    Even though his undetectable accent in "Molly's Game" is borderline unforgivable, Idris Elba is still Idris Elba: charming, effortless, suave. The movie's festival buzz has dimmed, but this Aaron Sorkin vehicle is the sort of fast-paced crowd pleaser that could ante up when it hits theaters this month. Elba's co-star Kevin Costner, who has a defining monologue at the movie's close, is also hovering around this contest.
  • 14 Woody Harrelson, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
    One of these days, Woody Harrelson will win an Oscar. That his name hasn't been carved onto one of those little gold men isn'
    Fox Searchlight
    One of these days, Woody Harrelson will win an Oscar. That his name hasn't been carved onto one of those little gold men isn't for lack of trying. Having also appeared this year in "The Glass Castle," "Wilson," and "War for the Planet of the Apes," Harrelson lands his meatiest role in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," playing a sheriff sparing with a townswoman protesting the stalled investigation of her daughter's death. But he ends up playing second fiddle to Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand, downgrading him to this category's second-tier candidates.
  • 13 Christoph Waltz, "Downsizing"
    Never discount Christoph Waltz, who won for his breakthrough American role in "Inglourious Basterds," and again a few years l
    Paramount Pictures
    Never discount Christoph Waltz, who won for his breakthrough American role in "Inglourious Basterds," and again a few years later for "Django Unchained." He brings the same manic energy to "Downsizing," a movie that will need to overcome divided critical response when it opens theatrically in a couple of weeks. The key cushion: Alexander Payne's actors tend to impress voters, which means Waltz could survive the naysayers.
  • 12 Ray Romano, "The Big Sick"
    Riding the wave that made "The Big Sick" one of summer's indie success stories, Ray Romano has helped to ignite its awar
    Lionsgate
    Riding the wave that made "The Big Sick" one of summer's indie success stories, Ray Romano has helped to ignite its awards clout over the past couple of months, joining director/star/co-writer Kumail Nanjiani and others for press appearances and industry events. Their fodder has likened the movie's immigration undertones to the Trump administration's anti-immigrant policymaking, building a timely narrative around what is already one of the year's most-liked moves. Most of the awards attention rests with Holly Hunter, but Romano may have enough juice to boost his sensitive performance.
  • 11 Bob Odenkirk, "The Post"
    "The Post" belongs to Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, but if any of its supporting players have impulse, it's Bob Odenkirk. He's
    Fox
    "The Post" belongs to Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, but if any of its supporting players have impulse, it's Bob Odenkirk. He's given the most to do, playing a Washington Post reporter who was pivotal in publishing the Pentagon Papers. Steven Spielberg's well-received movie has a serious shot at Best Picture, elevating Odenkirk's profile.
  • 10 Christopher Plummer, "All the Money in the World"
    Christopher Plummer has the stuff Oscar-narrative dreams are made of. A month before the scheduled release of "All the Money
    Sony Pictures
    Christopher Plummer has the stuff Oscar-narrative dreams are made of. A month before the scheduled release of "All the Money in the World," Ridley Scott hired him to replace Kevin Spacey during mind-bogglingly quick reshoots. If the movie is good, it could double as a figurehead for Hollywood's swift rebuttal of alleged sexual predators, bolstering Plummer, who won this prize in 2013.
  • 9 Jason Mitchell, "Mudbound"
    It's tough to parse out who in "Mudbound" is lead and who is supporting, so Netflix is pushing everyone for the latter.
    Netflix
    It's tough to parse out who in "Mudbound" is lead and who is supporting, so Netflix is pushing everyone for the latter. That's a tough sell, especially when Jason Mitchell shares his arc with Garrett Hedlund, who's also excellent. Technically, they're both contenders here, but Mitchell seems to have the edge, especially now that the academy's membership has diversified.
  • 8 Patrick Stewart, "Logan"
    Rumblings of an Oscar bid for Patrick Stewart date back to March, when "Logan" proved to be more of a Western two-hander than
    Fox
    Rumblings of an Oscar bid for Patrick Stewart date back to March, when "Logan" proved to be more of a Western two-hander than a conventional superhero joint. Stewart spends most of his time in a wheelchair, feeble but fiery. The 77-year-old actor has yet to receive an Oscar nomination, rendering this a potential remedy. He got another upgrade this week via a Critics Choice Awards nod.
  • 7 Michael Shannon, "The Shape of Water"
    Known for playing brooding villains, Michael Shannon's latest baddie is the product of a burnt ego and an exhausting mac
    Fox Searchlight
    Known for playing brooding villains, Michael Shannon's latest baddie is the product of a burnt ego and an exhausting machismo. He doesn't steal scenes like his "Shape of Water" co-stars, but Shannon has made off with two surprising nominations in the past, for "Revolutionary Road" and "Nocturnal Animals." This movie should play well with a variety of guilds -- it'll impress the actors and the technicians, so we shouldn't undervalue its potential.
  • 6 Mark Rylance, "Dunkirk"
    Mark Rylance won this award two years ago, for a performance that mirrors some of his heroic "Dunkirk" civilian's g
    Warner Bros
    Mark Rylance won this award two years ago, for a performance that mirrors some of his heroic "Dunkirk" civilian's gentleness. Warner Bros. has been focusing on securing Christopher Nolan's first Best Director nomination, which puts Rylance teetering on the edge of a snub. But a sweep isn't impossible for this ambitious World War II drama, keeping Rylance in contention.
  • 5 Richard Jenkins, "The Shape of Water"
    Giving one of the year's loveliest performances in one of the year's loveliest movies, Richard Jenkins' dulcet voice-over boo
    Fox Searchlight
    Giving one of the year's loveliest performances in one of the year's loveliest movies, Richard Jenkins' dulcet voice-over bookends "The Shape of Water." Playing a lonely gay illustrator struggling to find work, his character is worth a thousand swoons -- maybe not enough to propel him all the way to a win, but enough to give him the fifth slot on the ballot.
  • 4 Armie Hammer, "Call Me by Your Name"
    "<a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/call-me-by-your-name-queer-cinema_us_5a10a9f1e4b0dd63b1aacc7c" target="_blank"
    Sony Pictures Classics
    "Call Me by Your Name" rests on the shoulders of 21-year-old Timothée Chalamet, which has pushed Armie Hammer, arguably a co-lead, into the precarious supporting bracket. His performance is more muted than Chalamet's, and the Oscars tend to prefer showboating sidekicks. In a harsh analysis of Hammer's career, BuzzFeed's Anne Helen Peterson called his "CMBYN" performance one of the "less remarkable" things about the beloved movie, a sentiment a few other critics have echoed. But Hammer has hit the festival and media circuits hard this year, and the movie's passionate fanbase should galvanize the Academy.
  • 3 Michael Stuhlbarg, "Call Me by Your Name"
    Can you win an Oscar off a single monologue? Michael Stuhlbarg is about to find out. He's great throughout "Call Me by Your N
    Sony Pictures Classics
    Can you win an Oscar off a single monologue? Michael Stuhlbarg is about to find out. He's great throughout "Call Me by Your Name," but his role hinges on a beautiful speech delivered in the movie's final moments. Stuhlbarg nails it. After missing out on a nomination for "A Serious Man" a few years back, the New York theater fixture has extra wind behind him now, thanks to additional appearances in "The Shape of Water" and "The Post." Some who write off Armie Hammer are still likely to favor Stuhlbarg, who can't be accused of category fraud.
  • 2 Sam Rockwell, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
    The "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" excitement has waned as more reviews question its messy racial politics, but
    Fox Searchlight
    The "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" excitement has waned as more reviews question its messy racial politics, but Sam Rockwell remains a viable front-runner. He was runner-up in the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's awards, and earned an Independent Spirit Award nod for his turn as a violent cop with a complicated redemption arc. His signature loquaciousness gets a fresh spin in this movie, contributing to the sense that Rockwell's unpredictable career makes him overdue for recognition.
  • 1 Willem Dafoe, "The Florida Project"
    Willem Dafoe has a fantastic narrative going for him: an industry veteran known for weirdos and villains softens in the role
    A24
    Willem Dafoe has a fantastic narrative going for him: an industry veteran known for weirdos and villains softens in the role of a de facto father figure to a 6-year-old girl living at a low-rent motel. "The Florida Project" has risen above its low-budget trappings, steadily ensuring it doesn't get swallowed by splashier films. With a mere two nominations to his name, this doubles as a career achievement citation for the 62-year-old actor. He's already snagged accoldades from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Detroit Film Critics Society and the National Board of Review.
CONVERSATIONS