The 2021 Oscars Best Supporting Actor category has a clear front-runner

Next Sunday, the longest Oscars season ever finally comes to an end.

Underlining how long it’s been — three of the eight Best Picture nominees premiered way back in January 2020. But there are still twists and turns! At last week’s BAFTAs, Anthony Hopkins beat favorite Chadwick Boseman for best actor. Could there be more upsets a-brewin’ for April 25’s Academy Awards? Not likely in the Best Supporting Actor category. This week in Gold Digger, The Post’s ongoing musings on Oscars opposition, we check out those five very different nominees.

1. Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)

Daniel Kaluuya is nominated for his second Oscar this year for playing Fred Hampton in "Judas and the Black Messiah."
Daniel Kaluuya is nominated for his second Oscar this year for playing Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
Glen Wilson

Kaluuya, who plays Black Panther honcho Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” has everything going for him this year. Not only does he give a thunderous performance as the impassioned orator, his film was also the last of the eight Best Picture nominees to debut — it premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and landed on HBO Max just a week later — so it’s fresh in voters’ minds. The actor, who got a Best Actor Oscar nod in 2018 for “Get Out,” also has swept the major prizes so far, winning a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and a SAG Award for his latest turn. An Oscar will be next.

2. Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Trial of the Chicago 7″)  

Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, Jeremy Strong as Jerry Rubin
Sacha Baron Cohen, left, did double duty in 2020 playing Abbie Hoffman in “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and Borat in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”

But you can’t totally count out Baron Cohen. The funny Brit had two slam- dunks in 2020, playing witty rabble-rouser Abbie Hoffman in Netflix’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and reprising his famous character Borat in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” on Amazon. He won two Globes for the latter (best comedy or musical and best actor in a comedy or musical), and had been favored for an Oscar … until Kaluuya came along. Still, “Trial” and Baron Cohen are worth keeping an eye on. The film won best ensemble at the SAG Awards — their Best Picture — so it has plenty of admirers.

3. Paul Raci (“Sound of Metal”)  

Paul Raci in "Sound of Metal"
Paul Raci, the actor who plays a man who runs a deaf community in “Sound of Metal,” was raised by deaf parents.

The touching “Sound of Metal” crashing the awards-season party has been one of the biggest joys in an unusually drab competition. And Raci’s personal story is a compelling one. This is the 73-year-old’s first Oscar nomination — hell, his first for anything — and the genius of the performance comes partly from personal experience. He plays Joe, a deaf man who runs a community for other deaf people, and Raci himself was raised by two deaf parents. So far, he’s won a handful of critics group awards. If he wins an Oscar, it will be an upset that won’t upset anybody.

4. Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami”)  

Leslie Odom Jr. stars as Sam Cooke in Regina King's directorial debut, "One Night in Miami."
Leslie Odom Jr., who won a Tony Award for playing Aaron Burr in “Hamilton,” scored his first Oscar nod for his turn as Sam Cooke in Regina King’s “One Night in Miami.”
Patti Perret / Amazon / Everett Collection

One Night in Miami” marked a huge career leap for Leslie Odom Jr. A Tony winner for “Hamilton” and burgeoning recording artist, most of his previous screen work was on TV series and in comedies. This year, he’s Oscar-nominated for playing Sam Cooke in Regina King’s much-admired historical movie. He won’t win this time, but expect the prestige projects — and future nominations — to rack up.

5. Lakeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah”)  

LaKeith Stanfield as William O'Neal in "Judas and the Black Messiah."
A controversial move was putting Lakeith Stanfield, a star of “Judas and the Black Messiah,” in the Best Supporting Actor category at the 2021 Oscars.
Warner Bros/Everett Collection

For many, Stanfield being tossed into the Supporting Actor category has been the stumper of the year. He’s unquestionably the main character of “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and even if his role is of equal weight to Kaluuya’s, the decision would imply this film has no leads. “Too bad!,” says Oscar. His role as FBI nark Bill O’Neal is much more subtle than Kaluuya, whose character gives rousing speeches and is killed by the police. The “Black Messiah” will win over “Judas.”