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The Top 25 Best Supporting Actor Winners So Far (Updated for 2023)

Happy Friday, all. Folks, 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!

It’s another big one today! Yes, this time around I’m going with the Best Supporting Actor field. 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 WandaJoe Pesci in GoodfellasBrad Pitt in Once Upon a Time…in HollywoodJ.K. Simmons in WhiplashChristoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds, and Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting. Where do I currently rank Daniel Kaluuya for his Academy Award winning turn in Judas and the Black Messiah two years ago? What about Troy Kotsur for CODA last year? And of course, where does our newest winner Ke Huy Quan rank for Everything Everywhere All At Once? 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. Christopher Plummer – Beginners
24. Gene Hackman – Unforgiven
23. Morgan Freeman – Million Dollar Baby
22. Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
21. Jack Nicholson – Terms of Endearment
20. Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah
19. Jack Lemmon – Mister Roberts
18. Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All At Once
17. Martin Landau – Ed Wood
16. Chris Cooper – Adaptation
15. Troy Kotsur– CODA
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, George Kennedy – Cool Hand Luke, Karl Malden – A Street Car Named Desire, Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies, 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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Robert Hamer
4 months ago

If you have never seen Hud before, Melvyn Douglas is phenomenal in it (actually, the whole movie is top-notch in all respects) and easily ranks among the top ten five Best Supporting Actor winners ever.

4 months ago

Most of the changes in my list are position but some have been added or dropped. It’s a challenging category .

  1. Christoph Waltz -Django Unchained
  2. Jack Lemmon -Mister Roberts
  3. Ke Huy Quan -Everything Everywhere All At Once
  4. Joel Grey -Cabaret
  5. Burl Ives The Big Country
  6. Melvyn Douglas -Hud
  7. Alan Arkin -Little Miss Sunshine
  8. Martin Landau -Ed Woods
  9. Brad Pitt -Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
  10. Daniel Kaluuya -Judas and The Black Messiah
  11. Robin Williams -Good Will Hunting
  12. Christoph Waltz -Inglorious Basterds
  13. Robert DeNiro The Godfather Part II
  14. Troy Kotsur – CODA
  15. Timothy Hutton -Ordinary People
  16. Tim Robbins Mystic River
  17. Christopher Plummer -Beginners
  18. Mahershala Ali -Moonlight
  19. Javier Barden -No Country For Old Men
  20. Walter Huston -The Treasure of The Sierra Madre
  21. Kevin Kline -A Fish Called Wanda
  22. Heath Ledger -The Dark Knight
  23. Edmund Gwenn -Miracle on 34th Street
  24. Gig Young – They Shoot Horses Don’t They
  25. Peter Ustinov -Topkapi

HM Haing S.Noor The Killing Fields
JK Simmons -Whiplash
Christopher Walken -The Deer Hunter
Sam Rockwell -Three Billboards
Sean Connery -The Untouchables
Peter Ustinov -Spartacus
Mark Rylance -Bridge of Spies
Benicio Del Tor -Traffic
Harrold Russell -The Best Years of Our Lives
Frank Sinatra – From Here To Eternity
Ben Johnson -The Last Picture Show



Written by Joey Magidson

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