Best Supporting Actress is typically the most wide open of all the acting races at The Oscars, relatively speaking. There have been plenty of years where Supporting Actress was a foregone conclusion, but the upsets in this category have been more prevalent than in any other. Marcia Gay Harden beating Kate Hudson in 2001, Marisa Tomei nabbing the statue in ’92… there are examples of upsets throughout the history of Best Supporting Actress.
This year, there isn’t even a possible upset alert, because the race is so completely fluid and obtuse. Actor is DiCaprio, like it or not. Brie Larson has been dominating Best Actress wins the entire season (though don’t ignore Cate Blanchett), and most believe Supporting Actor is Stallone’s to lose this year. Not in Supporting Actress, however. One time favorites have been getting shut out of recent awards shows, and two other actresses have shared accolades in the meantime. Perhaps it’s a three-actress race, but even then are any of them a favorite? And if so, that lends even more credence to one of the other two actresses sneaking in and shocking prognosticators.
These are the three “leaders” in the clubhouse, at least in their own respective ways. It seemed Jennifer Jason Leigh’s performance in Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight was a done deal back in December. But a weird thing happened: The Hateful Eight floundered. It’s still Tarantino, so it’s better than half the other films out there. But H8 fizzled at the box office, ran into middling reviews, and scared audiences who didn’t know how to categorize it. JJL still grabbed a much deserved Supporting Actress nomination, but the film itself missed out on several categories where Tarantino films typically have a reserved spot (Picture, Screenplay, Director). this could hurt her chances. Not to mention the fact she has been getting beat by two other heavy hitters.
Alicia Vikander and Kate Winslet have grabbed their share of awards these past few months for their performances. For Steve Jobs, Winslet has won both the Golden Globe and BAFTA awards. Vikander has won smaller awards – the Broadcast Film Critics Association and a handful of regional critics association awards for example – for her role in The Danish Girl. Winslet might be the favorite, but Vikander is hard charging. Jennifer Jason Leigh, meanwhile, has been completely shut out.
Winslet has an Oscar and a handful of nominations working against her, and Vikander is a newcomer who very well may have deserved a Supporting Actress nomination for Ex Machina rather than The Danish Girl. Which is similar to Winslet’s win a decade ago for The Reader when she should have won for Revolutionary Road.
But don’t count out the other two…
Rachel McAdams winning for Spotlight could signify a big night for the drama (Supporting Actress is typically the first or second award given). Rooney Mara, who’s arguably a lead, could get noticed for her meaty performance in Carol. They’re long shots, but their performances certainly warrant consideration and are tailor-made to be upsets.
The Oscars air Sunday, February 28.