Best Supporting Actor Oscar Predictions Show That It Could Be The Most Diverse Category Of The Night

A24

It's a well known fact that, when it comes to the Academy Awards, acting categories can go one of two ways: either there's a clear winner and every other nominee is just decoration, or there are five powerhouse performances all up for the same award. More often than not, the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress tend to fall into the latter, and the actors in the running for this year's Oscar race certainly fit the bill. Narrowing down Best Supporting Actor Oscar predictions in 2017 is near impossible, but it must be done.

Now, going into the 2017 Oscar predictions for Best Supporting Actor, it's hard not to ignore the fact that there is already one clear front runner in the race: Mahershala Ali. One of Moonlight's most stunning performers (and that's saying something), Ali has been at the top of everyone's Best Supporting Actor list. He's a favorite to win the Golden Globe, and is entirely expected to take home the Oscar in February. That said, things can change in the blink of an eye, and nothing is certain. With so many great performances, award shows, and shifts in Oscar buzz, it's really anybody's game. That said, these are my 2017 Oscar predictions for Best Supporting Actor nominees.

Mahershala Ali — Moonlight

A24

As stated above, Ali is the favorite to take home the Oscar this year for his stunning performance in Moonlight. In a film full of incredible performances, Ali manages to stand out, and no matter if he wins or not, his performance is entirely Oscar-worthy.

Jeff Bridges — Hell or High Water

CBS Films, Lionsgate

Bridges already has six Academy Award nominations under his belt — he won in 2010 for his lead role in Crazy Heart — and a nomination for Hell or High Water would give him seven. Bridges is the kind of actor everyone in the Academy not only knows, but is already a fan of, making him pretty much a lock for a nomination in 2017.

Dev Patel — Lion

The Weinstein Company

Eight years after his breakout film, Slumdog Millionaire, Patel is once again in the Oscar spotlight. Slumdog's awards success coupled with the rave reviews for Patel's performance in Lion has him on everyone's Oscar list this year.

Hugh Grant — Florence Foster Jenkins

Paramount Pictures

Despite being nominated as a lead actor for the Golden Globes for his role in Florence Foster Jenkins, it's likely he'll be in the supporting category come Oscar night. This would be Grant's first ever Oscar nomination, and give moms everywhere a reason to watch the ceremony.

Lucas Hedges — Manchester By The Sea

Roadside Attractions, Amazon Studios

Hedges is being described as both a sure thing and a long shot in the Best Supporting Actor category this year. The Academy tends to recognize more experienced actors as a sort of recognition of their body of work, and Hedges' youth might be a strike against him in this regard. However, his heartbreaking performance in Manchester By the Sea is sure to stay in the minds of Academy voters, and I'd be surprised if we saw a repeat of his Golden Globes snub.

Strong Contender: Aaron Taylor-Johnson — Nocturnal Animals

Focus Features

Taylor-Johnson's twisted performance in Nocturnal Animals is just disturbing enough to have Academy members talking. (And, yeah, his Golden Globe nomination certainly won't hurt his chances.) That said, he's got some tough competition from his own co-star, Michael Shannon, who is also considered a strong contender in the Best Supporting Actor race.

Looking at these performers, I'm still willing to put my money on Ali to take home the gold, but with nominees not announced until Jan. 24, there's still time for buzz and Golden Globe results to affect the race.