Rotten Tomatoes' Ridiculously Early Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

Amanda Seyfried, Jodie Foster, and Maria Bakalova lead our picks for the category.

by | December 18, 2020 | Comments

Amanda Seyfried in Mank

(Photo by Netflix)

We’ve seen a few more theatrical exits since our last edition of Ridiculously Early Oscar Predictions, with Zola and The Green Knight announcing dates that confirm they will compete for the 2021 season. The new lineup from the Sundance film festival was just released, and with the season extending due to COVID-19, all of the Sundance premieres will be eligible to compete in 2021 if they choose. Films like Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut Passing starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga could slip in at the wire.

Our predictions were also selected before the New York Film Critic Circle and The Los Angeles Film Critics association made their selections, so things will likely look different in our next update. Still, an awards season unlike any we have seen in recent years is in full effect. The socially distant season with a virtual show likely on the horizon, however, won’t stop Hollywood’s efforts to reward itself with the Oscars, Golden Globes, and other awards. The voters will have their say and cast ballots on what they think is the best cinema of 2020 – and part of 2021.

So we now arrive at our Best Supporting Actress predictions. Yes, it’s early, given that with the new timeline, we are still four months away from any trophies being handed out, but this isn’t exactly a normal Oscar year. Check out our recent feature on everything we know — and don’t know — about the 2021 Oscar season and bookmark our Awards Calendar so you can stay up to date on all the date changes.

The Best Supporting Actress race is quite intriguing, with a newcomer from spoof comedy and foreign-language performance emerging as strong contenders. Maria Bakalova from the Borat sequel was a frequent target of praise when the film premiered last month, and though Youn Yuh-jung’s eccentric grandmother in Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari utters just a handful of English words, she steals every scene, which is a feat considering she is going up again Steven Yeun and an equally frequent scene-stealer in child actor Alan S. Kim. Some familiar names also make appearances on our list, with Jodie Foster and Ellen Burstyn looking strong from nominations after previous wins for The Silence of the Lambs and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, respectively.

Our list includes some films that have yet to be seen but for which pre-release buzz and expectations are high. Whether we like it or not, the campaigns are quietly underway, the conversation has started, and we’re now ready to join it. If history tells us anything, it is that many of these names won’t make it to Oscar night, but we’re pretty confident most of them will be right up there in the awards chatter. So please read on as we break down our ridiculously early picks for 2021’s Best Supporting Actresses.

Disagree with our picks? Have at us in the comments.

Amanda Seyfried

As the most prominent female in David Fincher‘s biopic about writer Herman Mankowitz’s time in Hollywood, Amanda Seyfried has emerged as a compelling choice for Best Supporting Actress. Lily Collins is brilliant as the clever secretary to Gary Oldman‘s equally brilliant turn as Mankowitz, but Seyfried steals the show as the long-time mistress to William Randolf Hearst, the supposed subject of Citizen Kane.

The black-and-white Hollywood biopic’s initial raves have cooled slightly, as critics were left a little cold by the aimless narrative despite its jaw-dropping cinematography and an almost religious reverence to the time period. The Tomatometer score has slipped a tad to a still respectable and Certified Fresh 84%, but on the subject of Seyfried, the verdict is nearly unanimous – it’s her best work. This would the Mean Girls star’s first nomination after previously providing noteworthy supporting work in films like First Reformed or Les Misérables, the latter of which, you’ll recall, incidentally did win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Anne Hathaway.

Despite the lower score, we think that as Netflix’s top offering next to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank is still a safe bet to pencil in for double-digit nominations, including Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Actor in addition to our choice for Seyfried in the Best Supporting Actress race. According to Jeanne Kaplan of Kaplan vs. Kaplan, “It is the disheveled Oldman and the illustrious Seyfried who carry Fincher’s film. Add to their outstanding performances the fabulous costumes and the sensational score, and you have a real contender for Best Picture.”

Ellen Burstyn

Ellen Burstyn in Pieces of a Woman

(Photo by Benjamin Loeb/Netflix)

Ellen Burstyn was nominated the first time in 1971 for Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show before winning with her third nomination in Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore in 1974. Burstyn, who has been nominated 6 times, could pick up her seventh nomination this year and make her the oldest person ever nominated for an Oscar, topping Christopher Plummer, the previous title holder. As the narcissistic, controlling mother in Pieces of a Woman, Burstyn is vicious yet heartbreaking, giving humanity to a character the audience is engineered to hate and eventually becoming sympathetic while she attempts to piece together her very broken daughter (Vanessa Kirby) following a family tragedy.

It’s worth noting that difficult mothers have been racking up Oscars for actresses for years; Shirley McClaine in Terms of Endearment, Joan Crowford in Mildred Pierce, and just a couple of years ago, Allison Janney took home a statue for her performance as Tonya Harding’s mother in I, Tonya. This year’s Best Supporting Actress race is still very much up for grabs, so don’t be surprised if Bursten makes history on Oscar night.

Maria Bakalova

Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm

(Photo by ©Amazon)

One of the more pleasant surprises of 2020 was the announcement of a new Borat film from comedic prankster Sacha Baron Cohen. Serving as writer, star, and producer of Borat: Subsequent MoviefilmCohen was a welcome addition to the 2020 season with his bumbling Kazakhstani journalist, and he brought his equally clueless daughter along, courtesy of newcomer Maria Bakalova. A graduate of the National School of Arts in Burgas, Bakalova is a fresh face to American audiences though she has been a critical darling in her home country of Bulgaria.

At the tender age of 24, Bakalova is also a standout from the Bulgarian feature The Father, which is that country’s selection for the 93rd Academy Awards. Likely a part of that campaign and the full-court press that Amazon has planned for Borat 2, we are confident she will make it to Oscar night. Streamers like Amazon, Netflix, and AppleTV are poised to navigate the new awards landscape more fluidly with deep pockets and top talent.

As much as this year will be about independent cinema, those with the cash to host screenings — even virtually — will have a leg up on the competition, and in a year when most folks are watching from home, what they see will be more important than ever, and getting a voter to tune into a film with a previous (and likely future) Oscar nominee is plenty tempting. We would also be more than OK if professional babysitter Jeanise Jones grabbed Oscar voters’ attention, but the chances — we hate to admit it — are slim.

Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster in The Mauritanian

(Photo by Graham Bartholomew/©STX Entertainment)

Another latecomer to the 20/21 season is The Mauritanian, and with it, Oscar-winner Jodie Foster. The film is generating talk among pundits and critics because it was not assumed to be a player in 2020/21; after critics groups and Oscar voters were recently given screeners, it quickly emerged as a late-season favorite.

The courtroom thriller about a Guantanamo Bay inmate seeking release rings as a “9/11” take on Bridge of Spies, which garnered Mark Rylance his first Academy Award. Foster stars alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, playing real-life attorney Nancy Hollander, who tries to release a 10-year Guantanamo Bay inmate suspected of hiring the 9/11 conspirators who flew the planes into the Twin Towers and The Pentagon. The film is based on the memoir by Mohamedou Ould Salahi, who wrote and published the book while he was still incarcerated, giving another juicy storyline for voters to bite into along with the political commentary.

Thanks to Foster, Cumberbatch, and a gripping screenplay, STX looks poised to make a deep run with this thrilling real-life drama after they fell short of Oscar glory for their film Hustlers last year. As a previous winner, Foster knows how to navigate the Oscar season and many will welcome her return to award-worthy cinema, particularly with Kevin McDonald, who directed Forest Whitaker to an Oscar win in The Last King of Scotland, behind the camera.

Yuh-jung Youn

Youn Yuh-jung in Minari

(Photo by ©A24)

It is supremely unfair to compare Lulu Wang’s The Farewell with writer/director Lee Issac Chung’s semi-autobiographical Minari; however, there are a couple of similarities. Both center on Asian-Americans and feature eccentric grandmothers who steal the show. Last year, Zhao Shuzhen was tragically snubbed for her turn as Nai Nai in The Farewell, and though we fear the same may happen to Soonja, our grandmother from Minari, we pray voters will not make the same mistake twice. Starring Steven Yeun (who was also recently snubbed for his masterful work in Burning) as a Korean immigrant who arbitrarily moves his entire family from Los Angeles to Arkansas in search of the promise of a better life, Minari was the toast of Sundance 2020 and is still Fresh at 100% on the Tomatometer.

Alan S. Kim plays Chung as a child, while Yuh-Jung Youn plays his hilarious grandmother Soonja in this feature about Chung’s formative years growing up in Arkansas as the son of a first-generation immigrant. The chemistry and comedic timing between the precocious child and aging women are the heart of the film, while Yeun (who is also one of our picks for Best Actor) and his wife, played by Han Ye-ri, provide the soul.

Though Youn will be the recipient of most of the Best Supporting Actress support, Han will not be dismissed, either. Han is the perfect counterpoint of anxious trepidation against her husband’s unwavering determination in a mostly Korean-language performance. Yuen is the star of “the scene” that every Oscar nominee must feature, but it’s only made possible and further improved by what Han gives in return.

Also in contention:

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

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