2010 proved to be the year of Mo’Nique as she was the hands-down favorite to nab Oscar gold for her ferocious performance in Precious. This year the race for Best Supporting Actress looks more crowded than a Macy’s one-day sale and offers a wide cross-section of actresses, some multiple nominees, some relative new-comers and some dark horses who with the right performance and campaign, may see themselves sitting in the Kodak Theater on Oscar night.
It seems as though the Top 4 are pretty safe, but as we know from this category, anything can happen and those at the top can slide out of the buzz-worthy slots allowing other actresses to slip in.
Currently it seems that actress Melissa Leo, a 2009 Oscar nominee for Frozen River is getting the bulk of the buzz for her role as Alice in The Fighter. Other top names include 2-Time Oscar nominee Miranda Richardson (1995 Best Actress, Tom & Viv and 1993 Best Supporting Actress for Damage) for her role as Barbara Castle in Made in Dagenham, Helena Bonham Carter, a 1998 nominee for Best Actress in Wings of the Dove, for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in The King’s Speech and two-time Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winner Dianne Wiest (1995’s Bullets over Broadway and 1987’s Hannah and Her Sisters) for her role in Rabbit Hole.
While these four may seem like sure things, there are several other actresses just bursting to make the cut. Jacki Weaver has been gaining a lot of attention for her performance, as Janine Cody in Animal Kingdom, yet she is relatively unknown in the States so much campaigning will be needed to push her name to the forefront. Speaking of dark horses, Marion Cotillard, winner of the 2008 Best Actress Oscar for her performance in La Vie en Rose, gives an eerie, fascinating turn as Mal in Inception. While critics love the film, the acting seems to have been overshadowed by the concept, so perhaps producers will need to take a hint from the film and plant the idea firmly in Academy voter’s minds. The Academy loves to honor a comeback and Barbara Hershey (a 1997 nominee for Best Supporting Actress in Portait of a Lady) seems poised to take that position as the stage mother to Natalie Portman’s ballerina in The Black Swan. Portman seems a lock in the Best Actress category, but co-stars Hershey and Mila Kunis (also getting buzz) may have to wait for another year before Oscar comes knocking. Performing in only her third film Hailee Steinfeld’s name is being buzzed about again and again for her turn in the Coen Brother’s True Grit. The Academy also loves to honor young actresses in this category so she could be on the short-list come February.
From there, it is anyone’s game, as there seems to be a new name slipped into this category every day. Threats to the above-mentioned actresses could include either Bryce Dallas Howard or Cécile De France, both starring in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter; Keira Knightly who is said to shine in Never Let Me Go; Sissy Spacek in Get Low and Amy Adams in The Fighter.
While this field is crowded and confusing enough, the placing of Julianne Moore in the Best Supporting Actress category could flip everything out of sorts. Her performance as Jules in The Kids are All Right, is honestly co-lead with Annette Benning, but perhaps the studios see a better chance for both actresses to get nominated (and win) if they are in separate categories.
So after sifting through all of those actresses, there are still more who could sneak in and grab at least an Oscar nomination (or critic’s award, Golden Globe nom or SAG nom at the least.) Tyler Perry’s latest film For Colored Girls, based on the play by Ntozake Shange, is garnering average reviews, but three actresses are getting some buzz and could see themselves with some recognition (Kimberly Elise, Thandie Newton and Phylicia Rashad.) If anyone sees Nowhere Boy, about John Lennon’s youth, they may recognize Kristin Scott Thomas or perhaps those who see Somewhere will recognize Dakota’s younger sister Elle Fanning.
Because this is always a surprise category, these names could make their way up the list as well: Rebecca Hall (The Town), Michelle Williams (Shutter Island), Chloe Morentz (Let Me In), Ruth Sheen (Another Year), Kristen Stewart (Meet the Rileys), Juliette Lewis (Conviction), Saoirse Ronan (The Way Back) and Maria Bello (The Company Men.)
The race for Best Supporting Actress is a difficult and interesting field. Actresses’ role can range from co-lead to just under eight minutes in the case of 1999 winner Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love. With such a large field, the countdown to the final five slots will be an exciting one sure to surprise and possibly anger, but always intrigue.