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Oscar Experts Typing: Who’s ahead in the very open Best Supporting Actor race?

Welcome to Oscar Experts Typing, a weekly column in which Gold Derby editors and Experts Joyce Eng and Christopher Rosen discuss the Oscar race — via Slack, of course. This week, we look at the Best Supporting Actor field.

Christopher Rosen: Hello, Joyce! We’ve spent so much time typing about this year’s Best Actress race that it feels almost subversive to shift our focus off the most competitive acting category — but that’s what I’d like to try this week. Welcome to the party, Best Supporting Actor contenders? Like last year, the supporting actor race feels wide open: I could probably make a legitimate case for at least 20 actors here, including long shots like Mark Rylance for “Bones and All,” Tom Hanks for “Elvis,” Seth Rogen for “The Fabelmans” and Anthony Hopkins for “Armageddon Time,” to name but four of my personal favorites this year. But at the moment, the category is dominated by four names: Ke Huy Quan for “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” the favorite in our odds and the current leader in the clubhouse for whatever that means on Oct. 7; Paul Dano and Judd Hirsch for “The Fabelmans”; and Brendan Gleeson for “The Banshees of Inisherin.” There’s not a lemon in that bunch, and any winner would be awesome. Quan has a comeback story for the ages, especially for those people like myself who grew up watching him in “The Goonies” and “Temple of Doom.” Gleeson is an all-time actor still somehow searching for his first nomination. Hirsch would be one of the oldest acting nominees ever, while recognition for Dano would put a bow on a truly exceptional year — one that started with his deranged take on The Riddler in “The Batman.” (FYC, “The Batman,” Joyce, still one of my favorite movies of the year!) I have all four of those gentlemen getting in for a nomination, with Hirsch taking home the gold. We saw “The Fabelmans” this week and his performance is an almost literal showstopper. He blows into the movie, annihilates the amazing Tony Kushner-scripted material he’s been given, and leaves the narrative in a different place. It’s a really great turn — one with an impact much greater than its brief screen time. But what do you make of this race, Joyce? And how much credit will you give me for not mentioning Jeremy Strong in “Armageddon Time” here? Oh, wait.

joyceeng: What will you do if Strong and “The Menu” make it in? We really should give “Succession” all the Oscars though. I have no idea what’s going on in this category. Another year, another anarchic supporting actor race. You love to see it. I’ve had Quan in first, but mostly as a placeholder. I can see him winning in a Troy Kotsur way: the feel-good story of the year. He is great in the film and delivers everyone’s favorite line, which is sometimes half the battle when voters are trying to remember your performance down the line. Plus, we’ve watched so many women win for playing supportive wives, so it’d be nice to see a man win for playing a supportive husband, but something tells me some voters (*cough* men *cough*) might not feel the same way. Hirsch would be another feel-good story and it’s a scene-stealing turn, but consensus would have to form around him, not Dano, as the supporting actor pick of “The Fabelmans.” Not to be boring, but I can picture the final five really coming from the top six in the odds: Quan, Dano, Hirsch, Gleeson, Ben Whishaw for “Women Talking” and Brad Pitt for “Babylon.” The supporting categories love coattails and strong/highly visible films, and these aforementioned people hail from probable Best Picture nominees. This is why I slotted in Jesse Plemons in December in last year’s equally unsettled race. It’s the Lakeith Stanfield Rule. I am also prepared for wildly different lineups at all the precursors. Remember the SAG Awards’ supporting actor field last season? Hold while I head to Dunkin’ to pour one out for our guy Ben Affleck.

SEE Oscar Experts slugfest: Will Smith’s return and lots of thoughts on ‘The Fabelmans’

Christopher Rosen: I agree with that take, but I’m going to hold out for Strong even though the movie might not pop in other categories — although I think James Gray could factor into the original screenplay race. But here’s the case I’d make for Strong, even without the coattails: He’s got to be on the short list of dudes who will win a major critics’ group prize (I remain convinced this will happen for him with the New York Film Critics Circle) and he seems like a shoo-in for a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination too. The path here for him would be similar to his real-life pal Jessica Chastain last year: when you keep getting nominated for prizes, eventually you’re taken seriously as a contender. This category at the SAG Awards could be wild: Strong, Brian Tyree Henry and maybe Eddie Redmayne? I watched “The Good Nurse” this week — Joyce, let me tell you, Redmayne’s character is *not* a good nurse in that one. But the former Oscar winner does some really fine work in the Netflix drama and matches an equally strong Chastain throughout. If I had to compare him to a past performance, it would be Edward Norton in “Primal Fear” or maybe John Malkovich in “In the Line of Fire.” Both of those actors landed nominations back in the 1990s — do you think Redmayne could go the distance in what would count as an upset at this point?

joyceeng: Please, I’ve had Eddie Redmayne as a SAG Award nominee for “The Good Nurse” in my mind since Netflix teased the film as part of its 2022 movie slate way back in February. It’s true crime, it’s on Netflix — SAG-AFTRA’s streaming service of choice — and we know he’ll hit the circuit hard. He’s picking up right where his real-life pal Andrew Garfield left off last season. He’s getting feted left and right with special awards at various events, giving Michelle Yeoh a run for her money. And weirdly, he could be Netflix’s strongest acting play? That said, the movie would still need to hit big for him to land Oscar nom otherwise he’d just be the next Jared Leto. Last week, we discussed the possibility of Barry Keoghan being a “Banshees” coattail alongside Gleeson. I have to say, after seeing “The Fabelmans,” I feel better about my Dano-Hirsch duo, but what if “Banshees” pulls off the double?

SEE Oscar Experts Typing: Is Best Actress Cate Blanchett’s to lose?

Christopher Rosen: This is purely anecdotal, but two people I spoke to recently were also gaga over Keoghan. As we say in the biz, you love to see it. He’s so good in “Banshees” and the performance feels like it pays off all the acting shares people started buying of Keoghan since “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” He’s just awesome in the movie — and would be another star of “The Batman” to make good this awards season. If I had to guess now, I think he’s a legit contender for a nomination — meaning we could go double-double with Quan as the lone wolf. That would make him the favorite in a vote-split way for the final trophy — something our odds and the experts already expect to happen. So maybe this one isn’t as difficult to forecast as I thought? But I’ll leave you with the last word here — do you want to give a plug for the other great supporting actor contender from “Banshees,” by which I mean the donkey? Or is there someone else who could surprise?

joyceeng: You know I am always here to worship at the feet hooves of Jenny the donkey. With Michelle Williams in lead, Jenny really should be the supporting actress fave. Turns out she was, uh, difficult to work with, but what a performance. And not to quote Waymond Wang, but in another life, I can envision “Banshees” winning ensemble at SAG a la “Sideways.” That was a whole adult person ago, things have changed, and I don’t even have “Banshees” in my top five at SAG, though it’s there in my heart. Now excuse me while I petition to ensure Jenny is eligible.

PREDICT the 2023 Oscar nominees by Jan. 24

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