This was kind of a weak year for supporting actor, not really sure why. There were certainly a lot of supporting actors this year, just not a whole lot of great ones. Like with Supporting Actress keep in mind that my idea of what constitutes a supporting versus a lead performance can differ from other award bodies.
- Ben Foster – Hell or High Water: Foster’s placement here is a little borderline. My ultimate ruling is that Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges are essentially the leads of the two halves of the movie and that Ben Foster and Gil Birmingham are the supporting players in the two competing storylines, but that could be debated. What’s not so debatable is that the character that Ben Foster creates, a violence prone ex-con roped into a bank robbery scheme, is pretty hard to forget.
- Lucas Hedges – Manchester By the Sea: Lucas Hedges is a young actor and when you’re dealing with actors like that it can sometimes be a little hard to tell how far out of his usual range a part like this is. Still I feel like this part in Manchester by the Sea would likely be difficult for any actor. Lucas Hedges plays a teenager who is in many ways kind of a little shit, but he manages to humanize him and make him likeable and making him someone you can kind of laugh along with.
- Mahershala Ali – Moonlight: This was a performance that didn’t immediately jump out for me in Moonlight, in fact I was a little surprised when I found out it was the performance that everyone was rallying around… and yet it’s stayed with me. Ali does a pretty good job of taking what could be a sort of questionable role (the crack dealer with a heart of gold?) and turned it into something better. He’s only in one third of the movie but his presence stays with you.
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals: I can’t say I really get the hype around Michael Shannon’s now Oscar nominated turn in Nocturnal Animals. Firstly, I’m a bit sick of Texas lawmen doing one last job (see also: Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water), and secondly I think that performance is basically just a retread of Shannon’s usual crazy guy schtick. Now Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s performance on the other hand, that really made me reconsider what that actor was capable of. He does a real good job of creating a character that someone would drop everything to kill on a revenge vendetta.
- Daniel Radcliffe- Swiss Army Man: If nothing else Daniel Radcliffe can say that for Swiss Army Man he was given a challenge that few other actors can say they’ve had: to play a semi-reanimated corpse who relearns societal norms while occasionally having his body used as a tool for survival. Radcliffe nails all the basic physical mannerisms that the movie forces him into but beyond that he does a good job of turning this corpse into a full character rather than a mere proxy for the protagonist.