Rotten Tomatoes' Early Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

Margot Robbie leaps into the race alongside Laura Dern, Annette Bening, and a surprising newcomer.

by | November 4, 2019 | Comments

Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie (Photo by Courtesy of Lionsgate (Hillary Bronwyn Gayle))

Recent screenings of the Fox News sexual harassment feature Bombshell have forced pundits to recalibrate the Oscars race. Charlize Theron’s uncanny transformation into Megyn Kelly is now a major contender for Best Actress. And we still have Greta Gerwig’s Little Women to come; first reactions for that film have been heralding the work of Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh. What was once thought to be a light year for female performances – and one in which Renee Zellweger was looking like a lock – is suddenly shaping up to be a powerhouse.

And it’s not just in the lead actress category.

Supporting performances often prove the hardest to predict because the category can be stacked with leading performances positioned for “supporting” mostly to up their chances of winning (see Alicia Vikander’s win for The Danish Girl). But we’re going to give it a shot.

The 2020 race now features three high-profile female-led efforts with Oscar-worthy supporting performances (BombshellHustlers, and Little Women) – this is in addition to impressive works from earlier in the year, like The Farewell. As with our Best Actress predictions, our list of supporting female performances runs deep, with several marquee names and several newcomers in contention. It will be interesting to see who cuts through as critics groups start releasing their honors lists and we move towards the Indie Spirit Awards.

If history tells us anything, it is that most of these names won’t make it to Oscar night, but we’re pretty confident many of them will be right up there in the awards chatter. So read on as we break down our early picks for 2020 Best Supporting Actress contenders.

Don’t agree with our picks? Have at us in the comments.

Laura Dern, Marriage Story (2019) 94%


(Photo by Netflix)

Newly announced to join original Jurassic Park co-stars Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum in the upcoming Jurassic World sequel, the Big Little Lies star also features prominently in two Oscar-caliber films in the fall: She plays the matriarch in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and a no-nonsense lawyer with a talent for dispensing prescient Yoda-like advice in Noah Baumbach‘s Marriage Story. Having two bites at the apple usually serves potential nominees well, with voters picking the strongest of the two to nominate. And though she’s being praised for her performance in Little Women, her work with longtime friend and collaborator Baumbach is what’s getting the most buzz. Dern, who’s on the Board of Governors for the Academy, is also a very active and well-liked member, so it would be a significant upset for her not to make it to Oscar night.

Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers (2019) 87%

Kristin Callahan/Everett Collection

(Photo by Kristin Callahan/Everett Collection)

Most pundits are still not fully sold on Hustlers star Jennifer Lopez’s Oscar chances, but you can place us firmly in the “J-Lo for an Oscar nom” camp. Lopez, who plays the acrobatic stripper-turned-“mini mob boss” Ramona in the flick, is seductive, hilarious, and deadly. Also, she’s showing early that she has no intention of coasting through the season. (And yes, we include her recent walk down the Versace runway wearing a reimagining of her iconic green dress and her highly anticipated Super Bowl performance as part of an overall “campaign.”) Looking forward, perhaps the former In Living Color Fly Girl’s biggest obstacle is getting everyone to recognize how exceptional she is in the role. We don’t need convincing. Enjoying her best reviews since Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, Lopez switches from charismatic mom-like figure to lethal crime boss with no more effort than she’d take to slide on a new pair of pumps. So yeah,  it’s time “Jenny from the Block” got her due.

Annette Bening, The Report (2019) 82%

Amazon Studios

(Photo by Amazon Studios)

There are several films on the fall slate that deal with political themes, and it’s yet to be seen how that will play with Academy voters. Among them are Richard Jewell, Queen & Slim, Bombshell, Jojo Rabbit, and The Report. The voters do sometimes embrace the political – Alejandro Iñárritu’s The Revenant looked unbeatable at the 2016 Oscars but was nevertheless defeated by the quiet newspaper procedural Spotlight – and Supporting Actress contender Annette Bening will be hoping they do so this year for her transformative portrayal of Senator Dianne Feinstein in the Amazon feature about the 9/11 torture report.

Shuzhen Zhao, The Farewell (2019) 98%


(Photo by A24)

Before last year’s Oscar campaign, a film like The Farewell, its lead actress Awkwafina, and the script/direction from newcomer Lulu Wang would have been hopeful but unlikely to vie for a golden statuette. Then Roma proved anything is possible, particularly in what the film signaled for actresses Marina de Tavira and Yalitza Aparicio, who were both nominated for Oscars. This is why we’re confident in the chances of the hilarious and heartfelt performance by Shuzhen Zhao as The Farewell’s Nai Nai, the elderly matriarch who is kept unaware of her own terminal illness to spare her unwanted pain. The film is based on an actual lie from the life of director Lulu Wang – the family gathers in China to say goodbye to Nai Nai under the guise of a family wedding – and Zhao is astonishingly good at its center, delivering cutting one-liners and intimate life lessons. Zhao also comes with the kind of Cinderella story voters love: this is her first on-screen performance.

Nicole Kidman & Margot Robbie, Bombshell (2019) 69%


(Photo by Lionsgate)

Early word on this Fox News sexual harassment drama is nothing but raves for lead actress Charlize Theron and supporting stars Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman. Robbie was already a contender for her work as Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, but those who have seen Bombshell say this is the performance more likely to get her nominated. The I, Tonya actress’s portrayal of a young, impressionable Fox News staffer who’s harassed by founder Roger Ailes is the stuff that Oscar highlight reels are made of. As Gretchen Carlson, the first woman to raise concerns at the network and who eventually filed suit for harassment and wrongful termination, Nicole Kidman is equally noteworthy. Both are a serious threat for nomination.

Also in contention: 

  • Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
  • Jennifer Hudson (Cats)
  • Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit)
  • Octavia Spencer (Luce)
  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Dolemite is My Name)
  • Florence Pugh (Little Women)
  • Meryl Streep (Little Women)

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

zero dark thirty Musical TV renewals Reality romantic comedy Action Pop Masterpiece true crime Pixar A24 canceled TV shows DGA historical drama thriller IFC halloween tv Awards cartoon social media animated Comics on TV Women's History Month Emmys SXSW HBO VH1 versus The Witch Amazon Prime Toys criterion Bravo YA venice FXX Video Games Superheroe Mystery Marathons PlayStation Dark Horse Comics Best and Worst Paramount Network fast and furious adventure anime BBC One TCA Winter 2020 name the review 007 Fox Searchlight ITV independent ghosts GoT 2019 Sundance TV Anna Paquin Pet Sematary Tomatazos rt archives DirecTV Nat Geo docudrama American Society of Cinematographers Christmas science fiction Netflix Summer Peacock festival politics crime drama BET Awards TV Land parents best comic Cosplay festivals TCA documentaries Mindy Kaling 2018 TNT 99% Film 71st Emmy Awards political drama Baby Yoda ID batman harry potter Lifetime OWN Acorn TV laika game of thrones Black Mirror asian-american Comedy Central crime Tubi disaster El Rey Spring TV Set visit indiana jones Teen films Syfy obituary deadpool Nickelodeon aliens Countdown CW Seed vampires breaking bad Cannes anthology scorecard Lionsgate sports news Travel Channel The CW Premiere Dates comiccon finale Emmy Nominations Turner Classic Movies blaxploitation australia Warner Bros. TBS spy thriller Holidays documentary Apple Election Trailer WGN dragons streaming Watching Series cancelled TV shows die hard President Tarantino rotten singing competition stand-up comedy CBS All Access TruTV strong female leads MCU cinemax SDCC Spectrum Originals Pirates Western Disney Channel richard e. Grant psychological thriller Endgame concert HBO Max award winner OneApp E! Universal Disney Plus nature Lifetime Christmas movies YouTube Red The Academy hollywood police drama New York Comic Con Shondaland mockumentary Oscars Stephen King Discovery Channel classics Trivia series IFC Films dogs game show ratings Adult Swim Showtime chucky emmy awards golden globes Fall TV boxing biography directors The Purge Thanksgiving mutant Fox News superhero Sony Pictures Valentine's Day Marvel discovery Vudu Hallmark DC Universe teaser revenge mission: impossible dc GLAAD serial killer CBS cars french Rocketman Extras Mary Tyler Moore screen actors guild child's play Freeform christmas movies Ovation period drama remakes CMT diversity facebook halloween romance cancelled TV series Family MTV Song of Ice and Fire Classic Film LGBT archives Sci-Fi Pride Month cooking video on demand 2016 children's TV comedies Hear Us Out nbcuniversal all-time talk show franchise ABC Grammys Trophy Talk book NYCC 20th Century Fox spinoff 2015 Netflix Christmas movies Kids & Family RT History Starz dark Turner war BBC America Rom-Com Year in Review crossover adaptation VICE japanese Mary Poppins Returns Polls and Games Winners universal monsters zombie 24 frames Columbia Pictures 72 Emmy Awards Sundance Walt Disney Pictures Superheroes 4/20 Comic Book binge Fantasy movies stop motion Quiz reboot south america Reality Competition medical drama satire Hulu tv talk National Geographic BET Music crime thriller FX on Hulu quibi screenings Disney Hallmark Christmas movies San Diego Comic-Con Tumblr rotten movies we love Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt witnail cats Apple TV+ joker Holiday Pop TV spider-man A&E Podcast Heroines Binge Guide ESPN based on movie werewolf worst PaleyFest jamie lee curtis travel DC Comics Epix WarnerMedia Box Office sitcom composers cops Calendar AMC Shudder sag awards what to watch scary movies TLC kids History YouTube indie Rock Infographic renewed TV shows comics Cartoon Network Horror PBS james bond Comedy space Crunchyroll Star Wars FX Logo TCA 2017 BAFTA Red Carpet Ghostbusters Sundance Now fresh The Walking Dead Biopics Food Network Avengers toy story First Reviews TCM free movies YouTube Premium Martial Arts CNN X-Men blockbuster Photos Disney streaming service spanish language black Crackle technology TCA Awards reviews cancelled television Marvel Studios sequels cancelled Sneak Peek hispanic The Arrangement Awards Tour Country VOD nfl Creative Arts Emmys supernatural USA hist Funimation spain TIFF Interview canceled Super Bowl Brie Larson Esquire Captain marvel Certified Fresh Elton John FOX Opinion toronto critics Ellie Kemper sequel HBO Go cults twilight Spike Character Guide transformers Winter TV Apple TV Plus a nightmare on elm street spanish E3 dceu theme song ABC Family TV psycho Britbox Schedule stoner doctor who GIFs 2017 justice league latino Writers Guild of America DC streaming service See It Skip It Chernobyl Amazon Prime Video 21st Century Fox Nominations RT21 Black History Month First Look boxoffice SundanceTV Amazon Studios Disney+ Disney Plus comic books Television Critics Association Amazon zombies Musicals Star Trek APB 2020 dramedy natural history football Rocky 45 robots movie slashers Paramount Mudbound BBC Animation Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Film Festival Mary poppins unscripted USA Network video green book casting Alien Television Academy Academy Awards LGBTQ Marvel Television worst movies elevated horror foreign MSNBC television Lucasfilm Drama NBC italian miniseries Arrowverse