The acting categories seem really crowded this year. Best Actor is one of the competitive in years, and Best Actress seems all locked up. What about Best Supporting Actor and Actress? There is a lot of buzz around a lot of different performances, so it feels like they are much more fluid than the lead races. I always like Actress and Supporting Actress, naturally, so Best Supporting Actress might have some fun entries. Let's take a look at the competition.
Oprah Winfrey is locked in for a nomination for her performance as a boozy housewife in Lee Daniels' The Butler. Who honestly thinks she won't be nominated? Anyone? She's the Queen of All Media, and everyone loves her. Even if a critic didn't like the movie itself, they praised Winfrey. As Gloria Gaines, she struggles to adapt to her home life while her husband becomes a central figure around the White House. Gloria takes a lover, and she watches her husband and son continually spar. The only thing I could see standing in Winfrey's way is that she just received the Jean Hersholt Humanitatian Award at the 2011 Govenors' Ball, but I highly doubt that people are going to hold that against her. She's in.
Right on Winfrey's heels is Lupita Nyong'o from Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave. She delivers a gut-wrenching performance, and people leave the theater talking about her. What a way to make your mark in a fantastic film.
Nyong'o plays Patsey, the jewel of slaveowner Edwin Epps' lustful attentions. In the scenes she shares with Michael Fassbender (as Epps), she's quiet and still, but in the moments she's alone or with the other slaves (or a great scene with Alfre Woodard) yher virbrancy really shines. Patsey is introduced two thirds into the story, but she leaves a very lasting impression. As of right now, I think she could win the whole thing.
I haven't seen Alexander Payne's Nebraska yet, but I've heard that June Squibb is a standout. She plays Kate, the wife of Bruce Dern's Woody. Woody receives a letter saying that's he's won a million dollars, and he travels cross country with his son to claim it. She has the best line in the trailer: "I never even knew the son of a bitch wanted to be a millionaire. Should have thought about it years ago, and worked for it."
Payne's films always tend to push performances into the acting categories come awards season. About Schmidt, The Descendants, and Sideways all had performances up for Oscars, and since Best Actor is REALLY crowded, I could see Dern getting squeezed out. She's not definitely in, but I think she definitely could be.
Carey Mulligan catches my eye the most in the trailers for Inside Llewyn Davis, but I doubt she will get in. People are talking about Oscar Isaac as the title character, but they are also saying it's too sublte for the Academy. If somehow the film gains momentum during the season, Mulligan could ride the coattails. Not likely.
How about those women from August: Osage County?! It was unclear earlier in the season whether Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts would campaign as co-leads, but I think that scares too many studios (hello, The Kids Are All Right!). Roberts will be campaigned as Supporting Actress, so does she steamroll over all 486 other female supporting characters in the film?
Margo Martindale is the one who probably gets screwed over the most. A veteran character actor for years, Martindale steals every scene she's in, according to early word. I bet Julianne Nicholson or Juliette Lewis could gain more traction if Roberts wasn't in the picture. Roberts has been getting good notices, so she could land in here.
If Blue is the Warmest Color has been met with more raves instead of caution, I would probably say that Lea Seydoux might get in. Every time I hear a conversation about Blue, it's only about the three hour running time, or the fact that it isn't in English, or...you know...the graphic sex scenes.
If it would have been a more straight up sensation, Lea might get in, but then people might question how there are two leads. It did win the Palme d'Or at Cannes, but amid tons of controversy. There has been a lot of talk recently about how the two female stars (Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos) hated working with the director. Big crossover stars like Marion Cotillard and Audrey Tatou struggle to receive Oscar nominations. I expect the same to happen here. I am sure Seydoux and Exarchopoulos will receive some notices during the season, but not with Oscar.
No one has seen American Hustle yet, but I feel like Jennifer Lawrence has the momentum to push her into the category. First of all, everyone loves her. Everyone. Secondly, a lot of actors receive nominations the year after they win (see Penelope Cruz). Lawrence is reportedly a scene stealer in David O. Russell's latest, and the ad campaign for Catching Fire definitely keeps her in the spotlight.
I expect Lawrence's genuine public persona and youth could push her forward. Plus, no one has seen it yet. Perhaps Hustle is the greatest effing movie that has ever been created and all the leads receive acting nominations. No one knows anything!!! Anything can happen!!!
Octavia Spencer hasn't had a real meaty role since she won for The Help two years ago, but that changed when she took on the role of Wanda Grant in Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station.
Fruitvale centers on the murder of Oscar Grant III back in 2008. Spencer has a commanding presence in the film, and she's the emotional center when everything goes crazy in the third act. By the end of the film, your heart really goes out to her. The only problem is that the film came out at the end of July. Too many bigger movies have come out, and Fruitvale seems like it's going to get lost in the shuffle. I wouldn't be surprised if she got in, though. Then again, it is a landmark year for black cinema. I expect an Indie Spirit nomination.
I feel like no one is talking about Spike Jonze's Her. Could Amy Adams get in with a sublte role? If anything it might solidify her chances in the Best Actress race with American Hustle. Seems quiet...
Of all the performances being considered for this category, I want Sally Hawkins to get in the most for Blue Jasmine. Cate Blanchett is a lock (to win?) for Best Actress, but Hawkins is so effing good as her sister, Ginger.
Hawkins is adorable and bright. Everyone I talk to talks about Hawkins and how good she is in the film. I worry that all the attention is going to go to Blanchett, and everything else will be left by the wayside. If Jasmine somehow sneaks into the Best Picture race, I think Hawkins could get in. I love what Woody Allen does with her character at the end, and she is a great contract to Blanchett's tightly wound socialite.
Supporting categories are where villain roles tend to break through, and it could happen with Sarah Paulson for 12 Years a Slave. She's viiiicious to Nyong'o's Patsey since she's fully aware that her husband is affectionate towards her. The only problem with Paulson getting a nomination is that she is overshadowed by Nyong'o, a much more sympathetic character. She's chilling in the role, though. I don't think this is out of the realm of possibility, and my love of American Horror Story: Coven is propelling my love of her. Could she get in if 12 Years steamrolls everything?
I want this to happen merely for the precedent of it. No performer has ever been nominated solely for a voice performance, but there is a little bit of buzz surrounding Scarlett Johansson in Her. Johansson is enjoying what appears to be a career renaissance at the moment--no longer just the hot bod and plump lips. She was one of the best things in Don Jon, and her voice in the trailer is sexy and comforting. I can't wait to see the movie. Wouldn't that be awesome if she was nominated for her first Oscar for something we couldn't see her in?
I don't think this will happen, but I don't think we should count it out, either. Cameron Diaz was the best thing about Ridley Scott's The Counselor. She's the most confident thing in the movie even though it feels like she's acting alone (Fassbender and Penelope Cruz seem lost). Diaz is bat shit crazy and dangerous in the drug trade tale, and I would personally love it if she got in somewhere. Don't count her out at the Golden Globes.
If I had to pick who I think will be nominated right now, I'd go with:
My dream would be:
We'll just have to wait and see.