This year’s Best Supporting Actress hopefuls are matronly, for better or worse. Mothers are the modus operandi here, some great, some flawed, some kinda terrible.

The field for Best Supporting Actress also feels more finite than other categories. Once you get past the two frontrunners, the rest of the hopefuls thin out fairly quickly. Not every year can be stacked; on the bright side, however, this field has a chance to be refreshingly diverse.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The two frontrunners this year are two mother characters; one is prickly but loving, the other is just a prick. Laurie Metcalf, who plays the mother to Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird, and Allison Janney, who plays the monstrous mother to Margot Robbie’s Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, feel like absolute locks at this point. Right behind them is Mary J. Blige, who delivers a performance of quiet power in Mudbound; she may be third in line when it comes to nomination chances, but don’t count out an upset victory for Blige.

That leaves two slots, and two or three possibilities. Octavia Spencer is a supporting standout in The Shape of Water, which is quickly becoming an odd Best Picture frontrunner. For the fifth and final spot, Melissa Leo could sneak in there for her work in Novitiate. Holly Hunter has an outside shot for her mother role in The Big Sick, but the summer season feels like a decade back now when it comes to acting.

Downsizing is getting incredibly middling reviews, but Hong Chau is getting a great deal of buzz for her political activist role in the midst of Alexander Payne’s uneven comedy. She might very well sneak in the back door of the category.

PREDICTIONS

Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird

Allison Janney – I, Tonya

Mary J Blige – Mudbound

Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

Hong Chau – Downsizing

PREDICTING BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

PREDICTING THE SCREENPLAYS