I actually feel like the supporting actor race in one that I've been closely monitoring all year. The possibility and buzz surrounding Heath Ledger caused me to early on begin assessing the other contenders. Early predictions always get you into trouble. For example, I was sure that Michael Sheen and Robert Downey Jr would both getting supporting nods for playing journalist, but Downey's role in The Soloist, first went from supporting to lead, and then The Soloist got postponed to 2009. Like Downey Jr.'s Soloist role, Michael Sheen's Frost/Nixon role is being campaigned as lead for the part of Michael Frost...despite the fact that Frank Langella seems to be the primary lead, and presumably the only actor to score the lead nod.
The love for Robert Downey Jr. didn't die with the Soloist though, suddenly upon the announcement, the possibility of a Supporting actor nod for playing a black actor in Tropic Thunder suddenly picked up buzz.
I am a little disappointed that lead actor Dev Patel is being pushed for supporting actor for Slumdog Millionaire because it seems like complete category fraud, and I just don't like category fraud...but as time goes on, even the list of potential nods in this category seems to dwindle...but I still believe there are room for surprises in this category...especially with all the Milk boys (Emile Hirsh, Josh Brolin, James Franco competing against each other) and the uncertainty of how voters will react to less traditional performances, like Ledger's in the Dark Knight, Downey Jr.'s in Tropic Thunder, and Brad Pitt in burn after reading.
On the other hand the supporting actress race hasn't really interested me at all this year. Partially because the short list and buzz hasn't really adjusted throughout the year, and the scope of possible Oscar nods in this category is limited. In the category for Best Animated Feature, the have a rule that states that there needs to be a certain number of contenders for there to be 5 nominations, if there are less than only 3 films are nominated. Similarly, I almost feel like this race would be more interesting if only 3 actresses could get nominated, because at least at this stage in the game, I don't see the contenders...perhaps I'm wrong, only because so few of the buzz films have not had any sort of wide release yet. I feel like the golden globe nominations in this category specifically will really set the tone and direction for the eventual Oscar nominees in the supporting actress category.
I am also curious if the Academy/Globes/Critics will buy into the category fraud of Kate Winslet being pushed for supporting in her lead role in The Reader.
With that, I am presenting my predictions of the best supporting actor and supporting actress nominations, with the inclusion of those who are waiting in line should one of these supporting characters not get the neccesary attention for a nod.
Best Supporting Actor
My Predicted Nominees
1. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
2. Josh Brolin, Milk
3. Phillip Seymore Hoffman, Doubt
4. Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
5. Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Maybe, Maybe, Maybe.
6. Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
7. Brad Pitt, Burn After Reading
8. Liev Schreiber, Defiance
9. James Franco, Milk
10. Bill Irwin, Rachel Getting Married
11. Peter O'Toole, Dean Spanley
12. Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky
Best Supporting Actress
My Predicted Nominees
1. Viola Davis, Doubt
2. Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona
3. Tranji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
4. Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
5. Kate Winslet, The Reader
Maybe, Maybe, Maybe
6. Rosemarie Dewitt, Rachel Getting Married
7. Kathy Bates, Revolutionary Road
8. Amy Adams, Doubt
9. Debra Winer, Rachel Getting Married
10. Hiam Abbass, The Visitor
11. Elsa Zylberstein, I've Loved You So Long
12. Tilda Swinton, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button