Oscars 2014 Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

A pirate, a patient and Jonah Hill: Who will take home the statue Sunday night?

There are plenty of honors to be had at the Oscars, so many that not all of them are even televised. Wherefore art thou, Scientific and Technical Awards? You can bet that there would be a widespread uproar if the acting categories, especially for supporting characters, where fresh faces often break out in unexpected roles, weren’t a part of the big telecast.

This year, the roles making up the Best Supporting Actor range about as wide as the imagination can fathom: A crooked trader who may or may not be married to his cousin (Jonah Hill in “The Wolf of Wall Street”), a Somali pirate (Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips”), a transgendered HIV-positive woman (Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club”), a federal agent in over his head (Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle”) and a drunken slave owner (Michael Fassbender in “12 Years A Slave”). Who among them will clinch the statue Sunday night? Read on for our predictions of who will win and who should win.

Who Will Win: Jared Leto
Wins at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, on top of an all-encompassing performance as Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club” mean that Leto should already be clearing space on his mantel for his new, gold, naked friend. Critics almost universally agree that Leto’s supporting performance is a high point of the movie

Who Should Win: Jared Leto…or Barkhad Abdi
Yes, the praise raining down on Leto was well-earned. His performance was emotional and evocative, a strong through-thread to the story that viewers connected to.

However, Barkhad Abdi also turned in a strong performance as Muse, the leader of the group of pirates that hijacked the boat in “Captain Phillips.” Abdi was a menacing and unpredictable presence, and it takes some serious acting chops to make us believe that you really would hurt Tom Hanks, also known as America’s dad. Any other year, we’d have Abdi’s name down as the new face that deserves the statue, but this year, the category is all tied up.