Ranking the Best Supporting Actress Oscar Winners of the 2020s

We’re barely into the decade yet, so there’s not a whole lot to talk about yet. Still, no sense waiting to start the conversation, right? I will keep adding Best Supporting Actress winners as the decade goes on and we’ll see how things shake out by the end.

A quick note on process: I will comment on whether or not a win was deserved, but that in and of itself cannot impact the ranking. And as time progresses and I revisit and rethink movies and performances, I reserve the right to make changes. These are fluid ranking for me, and since these are my lists I feel very comfortable with that.

Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

1. Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari (2020)

Like the Best Actress race for the same year, the Best Supporting Actress race felt wide open heading into the final stretch. Unlike the Best Actress race, though, there were signs at the end that people were beginning to zero in on Yuh-Jung Youn’s stellar performance in Minari. Still, there were a lot of Oscar pundits who saw it likely that Maria Bakalova could have won for her work in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm or Glenn Close could have gotten a win in acknowledgment for her career (nevermind that Hillbilly Elegy was a truly terrible movie). Thankfully, Youn’s momentum after her BAFTA speech turned out to be the real deal.

Playing a sassy grandmother can be a thankless part–indeed, it’s a trope that echoes throughout Hollywood history. And while actresses have won Oscars in this category for playing sassy old ladies before (Helen Hayes in Airport, Margaret Rutherford in The V.I.P.s, Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love, etc.), it is rarely done with the care and subtlety of Youn. As the Korean grandmother who moves to Arkansas to help her daughter, Youn forms the heart of Minari and gives it its emotional resonance. She also goes through a full character arc with precision.

Should have won in 2020: I never understood the weird fascination with Maria Bakalova in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and I certainly wasn’t on board with Hillbilly Elegy. To me, Youn’s biggest competition would have been someone who wasn’t even nominated: Candice Bergen in Let Them All Talk. I still would have gone with Youn, though.


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