Oscars Predictions: Best Supporting Actress – Can Glenn Close Overcome the Critical Lashing for ‘Hillbilly Elegy’?

Clayton Davis
·9-min read

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars from Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis. Following Academy Awards history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Oscar predictions are updated regularly with the current year's contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. Eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and will be displayed next to revision date.

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UPDATED: Feb. 11, 2021

Golden Globes and SAG had very different opinions on where this race was going. The overlaps of the two groups are Maria Bakalova (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”) in the lead category at the Globes, with Glenn Close (“Hillbilly Elegy”), Olivia Colman (“The Father”) and Helena Zengel (“News of the World”). Does that mean they’re the safe four contenders? In this year, absolutely not. The internet’s narrative is that this is the year for seven-time nominee Close, especially after losing to Colman in 2018. With “Hillbilly Elegy” getting pummeled by critics, currently sitting a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes, she would have the most critically panned film of every nominee and perhaps have the lowest RT score in the modern era for a major nominee. Looking through Oscar history for a winner similar to Close, there really isn’t one to compare her trajectory, but rules and stats are broken all the time around here. Can she win? Most certainly, but it’s nowhere near a given. This brings the explanation for Fishback, who is also a longshot but making the BAFTA longlist was huge, and she could be a nominee under their new jury/voting system. That could bring her to the lineup, especially with the glowing reviews for the film. Also worth noting, Colman hasn’t won a SAG award yet, and they love retroactively making up for past misses (since she lost SAG for “The Favourite”).

PRECURSORS LEADER: Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari” (A24)
Awards Circuit Winners Chart (2020-2021)


  1. Yuh-Jung Youn
    "Minari" (A24)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Soonja

    DIRECTOR: Lee Isaac Chung
    SYNOPSIS: A Korean family moves to Arkansas to start a farm in the 1980s.
    STARRING: Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan S. Kim, Yuh-jung Youn, Will Patton

  2. Maria Bakalova
    "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" (Amazon Studios)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Tutar Sagdiyev

    DIRECTOR: Jason Woliner
    SYNOPSIS: A satire on Trump’s America that follows a Kazakh journalist who’s sent to America to deliver a gift from his government to Vice President Mike Pence. Along the way, his worldview is turned upside down and steadfast beliefs are challenged by his teenage daughter.
    STARRING: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova

  3. Olivia Colman
    "The Father" (Sony Pictures Classics)

    OSCAR HISTORY: 1 nomination, 1 win (2018's "The Favourite" in best actress)
    ROLE: Anne

    DIRECTOR: Florian Zeller
    SYNOPSIS: A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
    STARRING: Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Anthony Hopkins, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams

  4. Glenn Close
    "Hillbilly Elegy" (Netflix)

    OSCAR HISTORY: 7 nominations (most recently for 2018's "The Wife" in best actress)
    ROLE: Mamaw

    DIRECTOR: Ron Howard
    SYNOPSIS: An urgent phone call pulls a Yale Law student back to his Ohio hometown, where he reflects on three generations of family history and his own future.
    STARRING: Amy Adams, Glenn Close, Gabriel Basso, Haley Bennett, Freida Pinto, Bo Hopkins, Owen Asztalos

  5. Helena Zengel
    "News of the World" (Universal Pictures)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Johanna Leonberger

    DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass
    SYNOPSIS: A Civil War veteran agrees to deliver a girl, taken by the Kiowa people years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will. They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers as they search for a place that either can call home.
    STARRING: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Elizabeth Marvel, Mare Winningham, Michael Angelo Covino, Ray McKinnon


  1. Amanda Seyfried
    "Mank" (Netflix)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Marion Davies

    DIRECTOR: David Fincher
    SYNOPSIS: 1930s Hollywood is re-evaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane for Orson Welles.
    STARRING: Tom Burke, Lily Collins, Joseph Cross, Charles Dance, Monika Gossman, Ferdinand Kingsley, Jamie McShane, Tuppence Middleton, Toby Leonard Moore, Gary Oldman, Tom Pelphrey, Amanda Seyfried, Sam Troughton

  2. Ellen Burstyn
    "Pieces of a Woman" (Netflix)

    OSCAR HISTORY: 6 nominations, 1 win (1974's "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" in best actress)
    ROLE: Elizabeth

    DIRECTOR: Kornél Mundruczó
    SYNOPSIS: When a young mother's home birth ends in unfathomable tragedy, she begins a year-long odyssey of mourning that fractures relationships with loved ones in this deeply personal story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss.
    STARRING: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Iliza Shlesinger, Benny Safdie, Sarah Snook, Molly Parker

  3. Dominique Fishback
    "Judas and the Black Messiah" (HBO Max/Warner Bros.)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Deborah Johnson

    DIRECTOR: Shaka King
    SYNOPSIS: The story of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, and his fateful betrayal by FBI informant William O'Neal.
    STARRING: Lakeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons, Martin Sheen, Dominique Thorne, Algee Smith, Lil Rel Howery, Jermaine Fowler

  4. Jodie Foster
    "The Mauritanian" (STXfilms)

    OSCAR HISTORY: 4 nominations, 2 wins (1988's "The Accused" and 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs" in best actress)
    ROLE: Nancy Hollander

    DIRECTOR: Kevin Macdonald
    SYNOPSIS: A detainee at the U.S military's Guantanamo Bay detention center is held without charges for over a decade and seeks help from a defense attorney for his release.
    STARRING: Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shailene Woodley

  5. Saoirse Ronan
    "Ammonite" (Neon)

    OSCAR HISTORY: 4 nominations (most recently for 2019's "Little Women" in best actress)
    ROLE: Charlotte Murchison

    DIRECTOR: Francis Lee
    : 1840s England, acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.
    : Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Fiona Shaw, Gemma Jones, James McArdle


  1. Priyanka Chopra Jonas
    "The White Tiger" (Netflix)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Pinky Madam

    DIRECTOR: Ramin Bahrani
    SYNOPSIS: The epic journey of a poor Indian driver who must use his wit and cunning to break free from servitude to his rich masters and rise to the top of the heap.
    STARRING: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Rajkummar Rao, Mahesh Manjrekar

  2. Valerie Mahaffey
    "French Exit" (Sony Pictures Classics)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Mme. Reynard

    DIRECTOR: Azazel Jacobs
    SYNOPSIS: An aging Manhattan socialite living on what's barely left of her inheritance moves to a small apartment in Paris with her son and cat.
    STARRING: Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, Valerie Mahaffey, Susan Coyne, Imogen Poots, Danielle Macdonald, Daniel di Tomasso

  3. Olivia Cooke
    "Sound of Metal" (Amazon Studios)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Lou

    DIRECTOR: Darius Marder
    SYNOPSIS: A heavy-metal drummer's life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.
    STARRING: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Mathieu Almaric, Lauren Ridloff

  4. Talia Ryder
    "Never Rarely Sometimes Always" (Focus Features)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Skylar

    DIRECTOR: Eliza Hittman
    SYNOPSIS: Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin Skylar embark across state lines from rural Pennsylvania to New York City on a fraught journey of friendship, bravery and compassion.
    STARRING: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin

  5. Swankie
    "Nomadland" (Searchlight Pictures)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Swankie

    DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao
    SYNOPSIS: After losing everything in the Great Recession, an old woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
    STARRING: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells

  6. Candice Bergen
    "Let Them All Talk" (HBO Max)

    OSCAR HISTORY: 1 nomination (1979's "Starting Over" in supporting actress)
    ROLE: Roberta

    DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh
    SYNOPSIS: A famous author goes on a cruise trip with her friends and nephew in an effort to find fun and happiness while she comes to terms with her troubled past.
    STARRING: Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, Gemma Chan, Lucas Hedges

  7. Nicole Kidman
    "The Prom" (Netflix)

    OSCAR HISTORY: 4 nominations, 1 win (2002's "The Hours" in best actress)
    ROLE: Angie Dickinson

    DIRECTOR: Ryan Murphy
    SYNOPSIS: A troupe of hilariously self-obsessed theater stars swarm into a small conservative Indiana town in support of a high school girl who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom.
    STARRING: Meryl Streep, Jo Ellen Pellman, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Ariana DeBose, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells. Tracey Ullman

  8. Ciara Bravo
    "Cherry" (Apple TV Plus)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Emily

    DIRECTORS: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
    SYNOPSIS: An Army medic suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder becomes a serial bank robber after an addiction to drugs puts him in debt.
    STARRING: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Kelli Berglund, Thomas Lennon

  9. Ariana DeBose
    "The Prom" (Netflix)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Alyssa Greene

    DIRECTOR: Ryan Murphy
    SYNOPSIS: A troupe of hilariously self-obsessed theater stars swarm into a small conservative Indiana town in support of a high school girl who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom.
    STARRING: Meryl Streep, Jo Ellen Pellman, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Ariana DeBose, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells. Tracey Ullman

  10. Vanessa Kirby
    "The World to Come" (Bleecker Street)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Tallie

    DIRECTOR: Mona Fastvold
    SYNOPSIS: Somewhere along the mid-19th century American East Coast frontier, two neighboring couples battle hardship and isolation, witnessed by a splendid yet testing landscape, challenging them both physically and psychologically.
    STARRING: Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Casey Affleck, Christopher Abbott, Karina Ziana Gherasim

† = no release date scheduled / could be delayed / may not be eligible
†† = could be campaigned in the lead or supporting categories / original or adapted screenplay categories

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. The most awarded films in Oscar history are “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at 11 statuettes. The most nominated films in Academy history are “All About Eve,” “Titanic” and “La La Land” at 14. “La La Land” is the only film of the three to have lost best picture. The biggest Oscar “losers,” meaning most nominated and walk away with zero awards, are 1977’s “The Turning Point” and 1985’s “The Color Purple” at 11 each.

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