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The Top 25 Best Supporting Actor Winners So Far

First of all, I hope you all had a fun and safe Fourth of July yesterday. Now, it’s time for another one of these pieces! Continuing a tradition I’ve been keen on for years, I’m ranking the new crop of Academy Award winners. For nearly all of the Oscar categories, you’ll see me list the top 25 recipients of that prize. Sometimes, our newest winner will appear. Other times, they’ll be relegated to the Honorable Mention category. Who knows, maybe one or two won’t even make the cut? It’s a list series that I’ll do each and every single year, in the weeks after the ceremony concludes. So, while this is a fun way to think about the Oscars in the aftermath of the latest telecast, it’s also a beginning for another column here on the site. Of course, definitely show us your own lists as well, in the comments section below. We’re definitely keen to know what you think!

Today, I’m doing a big one with Best Supporting Actor. My Top 25 Supporting Actor winners are below, but first, a bit of commentary. For my money, this is often the most satisfying category of any Oscar night, winner-wise. It’s a place where industry veterans and character actors, as well as sometimes exciting newcomers, can take home the gold. The Academy almost never goes completely off the rails here, and that counts for something. Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight is tops for me, especially since it’s something that Oscar voters had never done before. Other top tier winners of the Supporting Actor prize? Well, for me, they’re Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda, Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, J.K. Simmons in Whiplash, Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds, and Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting. Where do I rank Daniel Kaluuya for his Academy Award winning turn in Judas and the Black Messiah? Read on to find out…

Here are what I consider to be the 25 best winners of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, to date:

Brad Pitt

25. Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
24. Christopher Plummer – Beginners
23. Morgan Freeman – Million Dollar Baby
22. Gene Hackman – Unforgiven
21. Jack Nicholson – Terms of Endearment
20. Chris Cooper – Adaptation
19. Jack Lemmon – Mister Roberts
18. George Kennedy – Cool Hand Luke
17. Martin Landau – Ed Wood
16. Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
15. Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah
14. Benecio del Toro – Traffic
13. Christian Bale – The Fighter
12. Michael Caine – Hannah and her Sisters
11. Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
10. Robert De Niro – The Godfather Part II
9. Cuba Gooding Jr. – Jerry Maguire
8. Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men
7. Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
6. Joe Pesci – Goodfellas
5. Robin Williams – Good Will Hunting
4. Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds
3. J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
2. Kevin Kline – A Fish Called Wanda
1. Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

Honorable Mention: Louis Gossett Jr. – An Officer and a Gentleman, Walter Huston – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Karl Malden – A Street Care Named Desire, Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies, Kevin Spacey – The Usual Suspects, and Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

Stay tuned for another category later on this week or early next week!


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Brian H.
Brian H.
1 year ago

This has always been a very interesting category. I am a big category fraud guy. So Timothy Hutton, Jim Broadbent and Brad Pitt (and a few others that wouldn’t have made it anyhow) i did not put on my list. Brad Pitt would have been top 10, Hutton top 15ish and Broadbent might have snuck in there. Walter Matthau would have been close too. Pitt and Hutton are in my top five of lead actors the years the movies came out. There are borderlines I did include and I think of myself as being very liberal that if you campaign as supporting (or lead) and it’s questionable and I can just come up with some reason for you to be where you want to be then I’ll put you there. But those I mentioned I can’t do that for. And I actually could make an argument that Joe pesci would be a 3 time oscar winner if Pitt and Hutton were put in the right category in those years haha.

Again great job with these.

1. Heath Ledger – Dark Knight, The
2. Chris Cooper – Adaptation
3. Joe Pesci – Goodfellas
4. Robin Williams – Good Will Hunting
5. Robert DeNiro – Godfather Part 2
6. Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds
7. Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men
8. Sean Connery – Untouchables, The
9. Jack Lemmon – Mister Roberts
10. Gene Hackman – Unforgiven
11. Melvyn Douglas – Hud
12. Tommy Lee Jones – Fugitive, The
13. Tim Robbins – Mystic River
14. Christian Bale – Fighter, The
15. Ben Johnson – Last Picture Show, The
16. Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside…
17. JK Simmons – Whiplash
18. Kevin Spacey – Usual Suspects, The
19. Jason Robards – Julia
20. Michael Caine – Hannah and Her Sisters
21. George Kennedy – Cool Hand Luke
22. Jack Nicholson – Terms of Endearment
23. Denzel Washington – Glory
24. Benicio del Toro – Traffic
25. Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
HM – Ali – Moonlight and Green Book, Douglas – Being There, Freeman – Million Dollar Baby, Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah, Kline – A Fish Called Wanda, Malden – Streetcar, Plummer – Beginners, Sinatra – From Here to Eternity, Walken – Deer Hunter



Written by Joey Magidson

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