‘Trial of the Chicago 7’ Cast Will Run for Supporting Actors at the Oscars

Trial of the Chicago 7

Trial of the Chicago 7 is warming up for awards season, and we’ve just seen the latest development in its campaign.


Per THR, Netflix is preparing the Oscar campaign for Aaron Sorkin’s latest, and when it comes to its outstanding ensemble, they are planning to push all of them for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category. Actually, there is a minor correction to be made there – what is really happening is that they are not going to push any of them for Best Actor in a Leading Role.


It is unknown at this point which actors they are going to push hardest for a nomination, but it is clear it will not be all of them, as there are only five spots in the category. If the Oscars do indeed happen this year, the most likely scenario is that Trial of the Chicago 7 will be the most dominant movie in this category, and could even lock several nominations – as of today, the record of nominations in the Supporting Actor category is 3 for 1954’s On the Waterfront, 1963’s Tom Jones, and the first two Godfather movies. That is what I like to call the high leagues.


It is also hard to speculate which names Netflix will choose to represent the film. Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman is probably the safest bet at this point, and most likely the one that would have been promoted as the lead role of the film, even though at the end of the day, I don’t really think that is true. Hoffman was the de facto leader of the seven people on trial, but I don’t think his role in the story was the most crucial. Quite honestly, if I had to give a name for the Lead Actor category, I’d say Mark Rylance as the lawyer William Kunstler, and in fact, I do think that is a lock for Best Supporting Actor.


Baron Cohen will probably land another nomination, as Netflix has been kind of marketing the film around him and his character (probably because he is the most recognizable), so the question remains, who would get the third nom in case there was one? Out of the entire cast, I think there are a couple of names we can already cross off – Jeremy Strong, as much as I am a fan of him (if you haven’t seen Succession, what are you doing with your life?), was really an afterthought of the movie, a bodyguard to Cohen’s Abbie Hoffman, so I don’t think his performance was as strong as it would have been had Sorkin given him a larger role. Also, Michael Keaton was amazing in the movie but was in there for two minutes (yes, Judi Dench did win an Oscar for a 30-second appearance in Shakespeare in Love, but I don’t think this is the same case), so he probably won’t be on the list.


The Hollywood Reporter is saying here that the third name could be Yahya Abdul-Mateen II for his portrayal of Bobby Seale. I do agree that this is a strong possibility, not only because of his amazing performance, which was so heartbreaking and infuriating, but also because that would sell the movie as diverse, and it’d bode well for Netflix’s image as a studio. I know that might come off the wrong way, but in an industry so worried about perception and appearances, we cannot overlook that.


However, I’d like to discuss another couple of possibilities beyond Abdul-Mateen II, because I think that the big winner of the movie, besides Rylance (even though his haircut was driving me nuts), is Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden. The actor has an Oscar under his belt already, and another nomination besides that, but I was particularly impressed by him in this movie. After all, I’d argue that we see the entire story through his eyes, and he could be another candidate for the lead role of the film.


Another big standout in the supporting actor category for this movie is, without question, Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman. From the moment he appears onscreen, to the very last scene of the movie, his presence was that of uneasiness and unpredictability, and that did not only happen because the script was great (another lock for a nomination, by the way), but also because the actor was outstanding and gave its best every second.


This is not the first time a movie has attempted a move like this – Crash was the first one to try it, and ended up landing just one nomination (however, that year was much more packed than this one), and most recently, Spotlight, also starring Michael Keaton, pulled a similar strategy, and ended up with two nominations. Both movies won Best Picture the year they came out.