Oscars Predictions: Supporting Actor – Sterling K. Brown Delivers in ‘American Fiction’; Can He Break Into the Crowded Race?

Variety Awards Circuit section is the home for all awards news and related content throughout the year, featuring the following: the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tony Awards ceremonies, curated by Variety senior awards editor Clayton Davis. The prediction pages reflect the current standings in the race and do not reflect personal preferences for any individual contender. As other formal (and informal) polls suggest, competitions are fluid and subject to change based on buzz and events. Predictions are updated every Thursday.

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2024 Oscars Predictions:
Best Supporting Actor

BARBIE, Ryan Gosling as Ken, 2023. © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection
BARBIE, Ryan Gosling as Ken, 2023. © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Weekly Commentary (Updated Sept. 20, 2023): In MGM’s “American Fiction,” a movie about the industry, that plays like it isn’t about the industry, actor Sterling K. Brown is superb as Cliff, a recently divorced man who recently came “out of the closet.” He leaves an indelible impression.

An Emmy winner for NBC’s drama “This Is Us,” Brown knows how to connect to any character he portrays, fully committing to their heartache and pain. Already proving he could deliver in feature roles like his snubbed work in “Waves” (2019), he knocks his performance as Monk’s brother (Jeffrey Wright) out of the park. The TIFF Audience Award helps greatly, but he faces stiff competition ahead.

Ryan Gosling is confirmed for a supporting actor run for his work as the love struck Ken from Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie.” Can he win? Any of the currently predicted top four men could win (in theory).

In that group are Robert DeNiro for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Robert Downey Jr for “Oppenheimer” and Mark Ruffalo for “Poor Things.”

Ruffalo is downright hilarious, with one-liners that will be quoted for years. It very well stands as one of the finest of his career. A three-time supporting actor nominee for “The Kids Are All Right” (2010), “Foxcatcher” (2014) and “Spotlight” (2015), he’s well-respected within the Actors Branch and could be within reach of walking away with the prize (with the right campaign). His co-star Dafoe could also jump into the category.

Robert DeNiro - Killers of the Flower Moon
Robert DeNiro - Killers of the Flower Moon

“Iron Man” himself, Downey Jr., is afforded the best material to chew on of the supporting players in “Oppenheimer.” As Lewis Strauss, one of the founding commissioners of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and a hostile figure to Oppenheimer following the hydrogen bomb development, he has some of the best scenes in the epic. A two-time nominee for “Chaplin” (1992) and “Tropic Thunder” (2008), the role and awards pathway could mimic Oliver Stone’s “JFK” (1991) and its supporting actor nominee Tommy Lee Jones who played Clay Shaw. Only one actor from a Nolan movie has ever won and been nominated for Oscar recognition, Heath Ledger for “The Dark Knight,” coincidentally beating RDJ for “Thunder.”

The same standout status goes for DeNiro, who chews up the scenery with a villainous twang, in his most terrifying turn since “Cape Fear” (1991). He’s a two time winner for “Raging Bull” (1980) in lead actor and “The Godfather Part II” (1974) in supporting, in addition to holding the record of having appearing in the most best picture nominees (credited roles) with 11. That will more than likely be extended this year to 12.

Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Oscars predictions in all categories.

The submission deadline for general categories is Nov. 18, 2023. Preliminary shortlist voting will begin on Dec. 18, with the results announced on Dec. 21. The voting period will run from Jan. 11-16, 2024, with the official nominations announcement on Jan. 23.

The 96th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 10.

***The list below is not final and will be updated throughout the awards season.

And the Predicted Nominees Are:

  1. Mark Ruffalo – “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

  2. Ryan Gosling – “Barbie” (Warner Bros.)

  3. Robert DeNiro – “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)

  4. Robert Downey Jr. – “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)

  5. Sterling K. Brown — “American Fiction” (MGM)

Next in Line

  1. Willem Dafoe – “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

  2. John Magaro – “Past Lives” (A24)

  3. Charles Melton – “May December” (Netflix)

  4. Dominic Sessa – “The Holdovers” (Focus Features)

  5. Glenn Howerton – “BlackBerry” (IFC Films)

Other Top-Tier Possibilities

  1. Matt Damon – “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)

  2. Tom Hardy – “The Bikeriders” (20th Century Studios) **

  3. Chris Messina – “Air” (Amazon Studios)

  4. Jesse Plemons – “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)

  5. Jeremy Allen White – “The Iron Claw” (A24)

  6. Jon Bernthal — “Origin” (Neon)

  7. Jamie Bell — “All of Us Strangers” (Searchlight Pictures)

  8. Rhys Ifans — “Nyad” (Netflix)

  9. Jacob Elordi – “Priscilla” (A24)

  10. Will Ferrell – “Barbie” (Warner Bros.)

Also In Contention

  1. Peter Sarsgaard — “Memory” (No U.S. Distribution) **

  2. Paul Mescal — “All of Us Strangers” (Searchlight Pictures)

  3. Ben Affleck – “Air” (Amazon Studios)

  4. Jacob Elordi – “Saltburn” (Amazon Studios)

  5. Michael Shannon – “The Bikeriders” (20th Century Studios)

  6. Pete Davidson — “Dumb Money” (Sony Pictures)

  7. Matthew Goode – “Freud’s Last Session” (Sony Pictures Classics) **

  8. Glynn Turman – “Rustin” (Netflix)

  9. Raúl Castillo — “Cassandro” (Amazon MGM Studios)

  10. Richard E. Grant – “Saltburn” (Amazon MGM Studios)

All Eligible Titles (Alphabetized by Studio)**

  • Austin Butler – “The Bikeriders” (20th Century Studios) **

  • Mike Faist – “The Bikeriders” (20th Century Studios)

  • Tom Hardy – “The Bikeriders” (20th Century Studios) **

  • Michael Shannon – “The Bikeriders” (20th Century Studios)

  • Nathan Lane – “Beau is Afraid” (A24)

  • Ken Watanabe — “The Creator” (20th Century Studios)

  • Nathan Lane — “Dicks: The Musical” (A24)

  • Jeremy Allen White – “The Iron Claw” (A24)

  • John Magaro – “Past Lives” (A24)

  • Teo Yoo – “Past Lives” (A24) **

  • Jacob Elordi – “Priscilla” (A24)

  • Ben Affleck – “Air” (Amazon MGM Studios)

  • Jason Bateman – “Air” (Amazon MGM Studios)

  • Chris Messina – “Air” (Amazon MGM Studios)

  • Tommy Lee Jones – “The Burial” (Amazon MGM Studios)

  • Raúl Castillo — “Cassandro” (Amazon MGM Studios)

  • Aaron Pierre – “Foe” (Amazon MGM Studios)

  • Jacob Elordi – “Saltburn” (Amazon MGM Studios)

  • Richard E. Grant – “Saltburn” (Amazon MGM Studios)

  • Archie Madekwe – “Saltburn” (Amazon MGM Studios)

  • Riz Ahmed – “Fingernails” (Apple Original Films) **

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt – “Flora and Son” (Apple Original Films)

  • Jack Reynor – “Flora and Son” (Apple Original Films)

  • Robert DeNiro – “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)

  • Jesse Plemons – “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)

  • Tahar Rahim – “Napoleon” (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures)

  • Jason Schwartzman – “Asteroid City” (Focus Features) **

  • Tom Hanks – “Asteroid City” (Focus Features)

  • Dominic Sessa – “The Holdovers” (Focus Features)

  • Glenn Howerton – “BlackBerry” (IFC Films)

  • Dennis Haysbert – “Flamin’ Hot” (Hulu/Searchlight Pictures)

  • Benny Safdie – “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” (Lionsgate)

  • Bradley Cooper – “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (Marvel Studios) **

  • Joel Edgerton – “The Boys in the Boat” (MGM)

  • Jonathan Majors – “Creed III” (MGM)

  • Hamish Linklater – “The Nickel Boys” (MGM)

  • Sterling K. Brown – “American Fiction” (MGM)

  • Milo Machado-Graner — “Anatomy of a Fall” (Neon)

  • Jon Bernthal — “Origin” (Neon)

  • Eddie Marsan – “Fair Play” (Netflix)

  • Arliss Howard – “The Killer” (Netflix)

  • Kevin Bacon – “Leave the World Behind” (Netflix)

  • Charles Melton – “May December” (Netflix)

  • Matt Bomer – “Maestro” (Netflix)

  • Rhys Ifans — “Nyad” (Netflix)

  • Chris Evans – “Pain Hustlers” (Netflix)

  • Andy Garcia – “Pain Hustlers” (Netflix)

  • Bill Irwin – “Rustin” (Netflix)

  • Glynn Turman – “Rustin” (Netflix)

  • Jeffrey Wright — “Rustin” (Netflix)

  • Robert DeNiro – “Ezra” (No U.S. Distribution)

  • Josh O’Connor – “Lee” (No U.S. Distribution)

  • Andy Samberg – “Lee” (No U.S. Distribution)

  • Alexander Skarsgård – “Lee” (No U.S. Distribution)

  • Jesse Cilio – “Bob Marley: One Love” (Paramount Pictures)

  • James Norton – “Bob Marley: One Love” (Paramount Pictures)

  • Ray Romano – “Somewhere in Queens” (Roadside Attractions)

  • Jamie Bell — “All of Us Strangers” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • Paul Mescal — “All of Us Strangers” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • Jerrod Carmichael – “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • Willem Dafoe – “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • Mark Ruffalo – “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • Ramy Youssef – “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • Noah Galvin — “Theater Camp” (Searchlight Pictures)

  • Omar Sy – “The Book of Clarence” (Sony Pictures) **

  • Vincent D’Onofrio – “Dumb Money” (Sony Pictures)

  • Nick Offerman – “Dumb Money” (Sony Pictures)

  • Anthony Ramos – “Dumb Money” (Sony Pictures)

  • Sebastian Stan – “Dumb Money” (Sony Pictures)

  • Oscar Isaac – “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony Pictures)

  • Jake Johnson – “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony Pictures)

  • Matthew Goode – “Freud’s Last Session” (Sony Pictures Classics)

  • Patrick Dempsey – “Ferrari” (Neon)

  • Matt Damon – “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)

  • Robert Downey Jr. – “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)

  • Josh Hartnett – “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)

  • Will Ferrell – “Barbie” (Warner Bros.)

  • Ryan Gosling – “Barbie” (Warner Bros.)

  • Colman Domingo – “The Color Purple” (Warner Bros.)

  • Corey Hawkins – “The Color Purple” (Warner Bros.)

  • Louis Gossett Jr. – “The Color Purple” (Warner Bros.)

  • Daveed Diggs – “The Little Mermaid” (Walt Disney Pictures)

** This official list is incomplete, with all release dates not yet confirmed and subject to change.

2022 category winner: Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24)

Oscars Predictions Categories


About the Academy Awards

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. Since 1927, nominees and winners have been selected by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Seventeen branches are represented within the nearly 10,000-person membership. The branches are actors, associates, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, documentary, executives, film editors, makeup and hairstylists, marketing and public relations, members-at-large, members-at-large (artists’ representatives), music, producers, production design, short films and feature animation, sound, visual effects and writers.

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