16 possible Best Supporting Actress contenders for the 2023 Oscars

AVC best supporting actress Oscar predictions
AVC best supporting actress Oscar predictions

(Clockwise from bottom left): Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Courtesy of Marvel Studios), Women Talking (Courtesy United Artists), The Inspection (Patti Perret), Everything Everywhere All At Once (Allyson Riggs)

When the Academy Award nominations are announced on January 24, 2023, there’s a good chance we’ll hear the names of many actors who’ve never been singled out by the Oscars. In the case of industry veterans like Jamie Lee Curtis and Gabrielle Union, that’s been the Academy’s loss—and now there’s a chance to rectify that lack of recognition. And when it comes to newcomers like Stephanie Hsu or Frankie Corio, how could voters pass up the chance to help their star rise?

Those are just four of the talented women in contention for this year’s Supporting Actress Oscar, historically one of this show’s most lively showcase categories. (Just look at its recent winners: Ariana DeBose? Laura Dern? Regina King? Queens, all of them.) As Hollywood indulges in its favorite time of year, and Oscar precursors like this week’s Spirit Awards unveil their own nominees, we’re rounding up our mix of likely and desired contenders. Read on for 16 stars worthy of 2023 Supporting Actress consideration.

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Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Angela Bassett in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Angela Bassett in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Sure, our picks are alphabetical, but what a way to start this list. Angela Bassett isn’t just a queen offscreen, she’s now one of cinema’s mightiest royals thanks to the Black Panther franchise. A one-time nominee, for What’s Love Got to Do With It, Bassett proved her indelibility in the emotional sequel Wakanda Forever, featuring her Queen Ramonda, who exudes seething fury, quiet outrage, and most of all, grief. If it were up to us, we’d also throw Danai Gurira into the supporting actress mix for her big scene opposite Bassett, this film’s most stunning turning point.

Charmaine Bingwa, Emancipation

Emancipation — Official Trailer | Apple TV+

Coming off a historic first Best Picture Oscar win for a streaming platform with Coda, Apple TV+ is surely eager for another win. While the studio’s 2022 releases Cha Cha Real Smooth, Raymond & Ray, and Causeway have earned due praise, it’s Antoine Fuqua’s abolitionist drama Emancipation that feels most likely to earn attention again from the Academy. If the film’s star, reigning lead actor winner Will Smith, makes for an uncertain repeat pick, perhaps voters will opt for the standout supporting turn from his character’s partner Dodienne, played with undeniable power by relative unknown Charmaine Bingwa.

Jessie Buckley, Women Talking

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking
Jessie Buckley in Women Talking

The main takeaway from Sarah Polley’s Women Talking isn’t the issues it presents Academy nominators—it’s that the film is a profoundly astute and emotional story about Mennonite women, well, talking. But it’s hard to avoid the fact that an ensemble film made up of mostly women will inherently struggle to anoint performers all lumped into the same category (a problem the cast’s lone man, Ben Whishaw, may ironically benefit from). With no ensemble acting prize on the table, perhaps Oscar will greet Jessie Buckley again after The Lost Daughter, given the cold fury and sense of entrapment she delivers in this stunner of a film.

Hong Chau, The Whale

The Whale | Official Trailer HD | A24

A24’s The Whale is riding into awards season after a glowing reception at the Venice Film Festival and recognition from the Gotham Awards (though, notably, not Film Independent’s Spirit Awards). While leading man Brendan Fraser’s Hollywood comeback has made headlines, Hong Chau is frequently mentioned in the same breath; as Liz, best friend and nurse to Fraser’s Charlie, the actor brings her charisma and emotional nuance to the screen like never before. Chau, whose breakthrough performance in Downsizing came oh-so-close to an Oscar nomination a few years ago, has since turned in stellar work in Watchmen, Driveways, and this year’s The Menu, so her time to join the Academy’s ranks may finally have come.

Kerry Condon, The Banshees Of Inisherin

Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan in the film THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan in the film THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN

Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan in The Banshees Of Inisherin

There are equal parts elegance, melancholy, and funny frustration in Kerry Condon’s Siobhan, the too-smart-for-her-own-good sister to Colin Farrell’s Pádraic in The Banshees Of Inisherin. She delivers Martin McDonagh’s hilarious-yet-bleak dialogue with panache, especially in a scene opposite Brendan Gleeson’s Colm, where Siobhan finally spits out the truth about the men on this godforsaken island: “You’re all dull!” Dear Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, please don’t miss your chance to nominate this wonderful talent.

Frankie Corio, Aftersun

Aftersun | Official Trailer HD | A24

Young Frankie Corio earning nominations at the upcoming Gotham Awards, British Independent Film Awards, and Spirit Awards is all the more remarkable when you consider Aftersun is her debut feature film. Then again, her lack of affectation is part of what makes her such a naturally compelling screen presence. Corio more than holds her own against a never-better Paul Mescal, guiding the audience through the ups and downs and fantasies and realities of a complicated father-daughter relationship that unveils painful and wonderful truths about the film’s writer-director Charlotte Wells.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All At Once

EEAAO A24 Jamie Lee Curtis
EEAAO A24 Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All At Once

Is Jamie Lee Curtis in the Academy’s mix at long last? If so, it’s to the credit of this screen legend’s breadth of talent that no one would bat an eye at tax auditor Deirdre Beaubeirdre becoming her first Oscar-nominated role. And just when you think she’s providing the comic relief of Everything Everywhere All At Once, lumbering around a dreary office with paper stapled to her head (channeling her Halloween arch-nemesis Michael Myers), Curtis serves a gut-punch of surprising melancholy, digging past the character’s cartoonish looks to play a recognizably real woman.

Dolly de Leon, Triangle Of Sadness

Triangle of Sadness Trailer #1 (2022)

Dolly de Leon is an award-winning actor whose award-winning may no longer be confined to her home country of the Philippines. Of all the surprising elements in Ruben Östlund’s eat-the-rich satire Triangle Of Sadness, she leaves the biggest impression, thanks largely to the fact that the film’s third and final act is hers to own. As Abigail, who evolves overnight from cruise ship toilet manager to cutthroat desert-island matriarch, de Leon has more than a few powerful scenes tailor-made for that coveted clip played after one’s name at every Oscar ceremony.

Claire Foy, Women Talking

WOMEN TALKING | Official Trailer

If Oscar voters want something more than the nuanced frustration Jessie Buckley brings to her Women Talking character, they may opt instead for Claire Foy, who dials the maelstrom of emotions facing these Mennonite victims up to 11. Mere moments into Sarah Polley’s masterful film, the Emmy winner is practically clawing her way through the screen—a display of righteous fury that never feels overdone, only remarkably convincing.

Nina Hoss, Tár

TÁR - Official Trailer [HD] - In Select Theaters October 7

People are running out of superlatives to describe Cate Blanchett’s eponymous role in Tár, but she may not be the sole acting nominee from Todd Field’s astonishing classical music character study; supporter Nina Hoss, as Lydia Tár’s wife Sharon, has quietly been gaining momentum with Gotham and Spirit Award recognition. The German star of stage and screen is no stranger to awards shows, and would fit right in as a 2023 Supporting Actress Oscar contender. Like everything else in Tár, we catch only glimpses of Sharon and her growing sense of unease, and it takes an actor as astute as Hoss to hint so convincingly at what’s underneath.

Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All At Once

Stephanie Hsu Hang Out With The AV Club | Everything Everywhere All At Once

Of all the supporting actress contenders on this list, Stephanie Hsu may have had the biggest breakout of 2022. Heretofore known for mostly her stage work, the now-rising screen ingenue had audiences clamoring to see more of her after the Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All At Once, where she played not one but two roles: frustrated daughter Joy and all-powerful evil (and goofy) Jobu Tupaki. Here’s hoping Oscar voters feel the same way.

Nicole Kidman, The Northman

The Northman (2022) - The Queen’s Revelations Scene | Movieclips

Nicole Kidman delivered a monologue on the big screen this year that was so powerful, it practically had cinema audiences standing up to applaud. And no, we’re not talking about her AMC ad (but if the Oscars could somehow come up with an honorary statuette for that, yes please). The Northman may have come out too early in the year and been met with too many mixed reviews, but that doesn’t mean Kidman’s swing-for-the-fences portrayal of Queen Gudrún isn’t worthy of a sixth Oscar nomination. In just one climactic scene, she doesn’t so much steal the show in Robert Eggers’ Viking epic; she chews up and spits out anyone and anything that could possibly upstage her.

Li Jun Li, Babylon

Li Jun Li plays Lady Fay Zhu in BABYLON from Paramount Pictures
Li Jun Li plays Lady Fay Zhu in BABYLON from Paramount Pictures

Li Jun Li in Babylon

Outsized, outrageous, positively brimming with decadence—maybe the reason Li Jun Li makes an Oscar-worthy impression in the 1920s-set Hollywood drama Babylon is that she serves us a performance in such contrast to the proceedings. She’s positively mesmerizing as the sultry Lady Fay Zhu, impeccably made-up and with cigarette sizzling just so. Keep your bombastic Brad Pitt and rowdy Margot Robbie; Li is the real standout of Damien Chazelle’s starry-to-the-point-of-blinding ensemble.

Lashana Lynch, The Woman King

THE WOMAN KING Clip - Preparing for Battle

It’s technically a good problem to have, but The Woman King joins the ranks of 2022 films with such impressive ensembles of mostly women that it becomes difficult to single out any one star in an actress award category. Viola Davis is the undisputed lead of Gina Prince-Bythewood’s depiction of the real-life 1820s Agojie warriors, but who to champion in the supporting slot? We’re all in for Lashana Lynch’s fierce Izogie, the kind of big-screen hero whose victories make your heart soar and whose defeat makes your heart break.

Janelle Monáe, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery | Official Trailer | Netflix

In retrospect, it makes perfect sense to team Janelle Monáe with Rian Johnson. A pop star with a flair for the dramatic and a proven sense of comedic timing in Hidden Figures, Monáe fits right into Johnson’s Knives Out world, particularly opposite Daniel Craig’s detective Benoit Blanc. There’s not much we can reveal about Andi, one of Glass Onion’s murder mystery party guests, but suffice it to say Monáe manages to command the spotlight amid a cast of performers with far longer resumes. If anyone in this star-studded ensemble were to earn Academy recognition, it would be them.

Gabrielle Union, The Inspection

Gabrielle Union in The Inspection
Gabrielle Union in The Inspection

Hollywood and its awards voters love the kind of offscreen narrative Gabrielle Union is currently receiving for her work in Elegance Bratton’s The Inspection. As Inez, mother to a gay son determined to earn her approval by joining the U.S. Marines, this is the Bring It On star like we’ve never even come close to seeing her before. Unglamorous, hawk-eyed, and coherently balancing both love for her son and disgust at what she sees as his lifestyle, Union successfully makes the leap from the popcorn entertainment she’s known for to the prestige cinema she can clearly handle.

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