2015 Oscar Circuit: Best Supporting Actress

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supportingactress_oscarsOur annual look at the individual Oscar categories. If you miss a piece, click on the tag titled Oscar Circuit 2015. You can also see the official Oscar Predictions page for Best Supporting Actress.

The Nominees Are:

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Laura Dern, Wild
  • Kiera Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

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Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

When reviews single you out as the emotional core of the movie of the year, Oscar heat normally comes with you. That Patricia Arquette has managed to steam roll this season is as much attributed to the movie’s success and her luminous performance. She plays one the Academy’s favorite type of roles in this category, but there’s nothing gimmicky or showy in how Arquette plays this part. She’s so naturalistic in her acting choices and the performance is so fluid in moving with the story, that when the big moments arrive they leave you with an immense impact that’s hard to shake.

Equation to the Nomination: Once in a lifetime part (12 years of acting and aging in one film!) + suffering mother + Best Picture frontrunner heat + “I just thought there would be more.”

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Laura Dern, Wild

Of all of the names announced on Oscar nomination morning, Laura Dern’s might count as the biggest surprise. Absent from much of the precursors, she finds herself with an Oscar nomination for the role as the Cheryl Strayad’s mother, who deals with a rebelious daughter and issues of her own. Much of the power in Laura’s performance is drawn from an earth mother type quality and she does get to deliver one of the film’s biggest lessons. The performance is also free of vanity and you get just enough glimpses of the woman she could have become or wants to be before tragedy strikes.

Equation to the Nomination: Beloved working actor + family ties to Oscar + coattails of the big co-star + long suffering mother + heart and soul of the film.

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Kiera Knightley, The Imitation Game

Knightley seems to have always been in or near the nomination discussion since landing one in 2005, but each time it has fizzled out. She finally finds herself back in the nominee circle with her performance in The Imitation Game. The only performance of the five I have not seen makes it hard to speak to the quality of her role, but being the main female character in a movie centered around men definitely helps her stand out, as does the character’s relationship with Alan Turing provided some humanity.

Equation to the Nomination: Best Picture heat + girl in a boy’s club + near misses before + Begin Again.

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Emma Stone, Birdman 

This nomination seems like it was only a matter of time before it happened. With Birdman, she gets a part that shows off her wicked comedy sense and emotional vulnerability. She’s almost certainly here because of her titanic monologue during a tense face off with Michael Keaton’s character that really lets her teeth sink into the material. Stone is also gifted enough to show the character’s complete arc and sizzles with any actor she’s paired with.

Equation to the Nomination: Best Picture heat + an epic monologue + it’s about time-ness + upward career trajectory.

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Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Much has been said, and will continue to be said, about Meryl Streep. With Into the Woods, she gets to once again sing but unlike with Mamma Mia, she has a script and role to back up the voice this time. As the Witch, she gets many of the musicals most famous numbers and for the most part, manages to do them justice. It’s a showy part in many ways, but Meryl manages to find the nuance needed to land both the comedic and serious bits.

Equation to the Nomination: The Legend that is Meryl + deglam, then glam, then a puddle of tar (so deglam again?) + Long suffering…mother??? + the best role in a hit musical

Will/Should Win: Patricia Arquette

Could Win: Emma Stone (only if they go Birdman crazy)

Should Have Been Nominated: Teyonah Parris from Dear White People or Carrie Coon from Gone Girl

  • Luciano Florio

    Emma Stone is nominated for Birdman, not Boyhood!!!!!!!!!

  • Homer

    If you didn’t seen Knightley already, i gotta say that she was good but it’s a normal and even overrated performance, it’s clearly the type of oscar-bait…I would replaced her for Rene Russo, for me the best of the year, she was totally robbed…I couldn’t agree more with Coon, one of the most underrated performances of the year! I only have to see Dern and i’m not a great fan of her…Arquette will win but for me should win…Streep (guilty!). People who were mad because she was nominated again, just didn’t see the movie, it’s not her fault that she’s always fantastic, she sings, she is funny, everytime she appears…she shines, just simple as that.

    • Taylor Cuch

      I agree about Meryl, her “Stay With Me” scene was the most powerful scene in the movie.

  • Robert MacFarlane

    This is the one category where I genuinely don’t care who wins.

  • Casey Chapman

    Two women were robbed in my opinion:

    1 – Renee Russo in Nightcrawler
    2 – Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer

    (one could have easily taken Streep’s slot)

    Not to mention Uma Thurman for her stellar turn in Nymphomaniac, proving with one scene, how unbelievable an actress she is. But we knew that would never happen.

    • Terence Johnson

      I loved Uma in Nymphomanic, but yes that was never going to happen lol

    • Taylor Cuch

      Uma Thurman was incredible in Nymphomaniac but that movie was never going to see the light of the Academy… I think along with the two listed, Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year was exquisite with the right amount of depth.

  • Jamie Teller

    Personally, I vote Emma Stone all the way. She’s just PERFECT in that film, and her chemistry with Keaton is so beautiful and real. She never feels forced or phony, which is a major accomplishment playing a former drug addict/problem child. Instead, she nails every part of it.

    Arquette is good, but I think the film loses its grip on her, and even taking into account her indisputable high points, I didn’t feel, at the time at least, that I really understood Olivia. Which would lead into a longer discussion of my issues with Boyhood’s treatment of its female characters, but I’ll stop myself.

    Dern is the only performance I haven’t seen. From what I understand, she’s barely in the film, which isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker–Uma Thurman is in Nymphomaniac for less than ten minutes and is jaw-droppingly good–but I’m wondering if she’s not more like Jacki Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook.

    Knightley is solid enough, especially her final scene, but if this weren’t the first nomination she’s had in…what, 9 years?…I can’t really see what she did to get on here. But I also think the film is massively overrated.

    Streep is fun, but that film is such an ensemble piece that I don’t feel good about singling anyone out. And she’s not THAT good–she’s fun and doing a change of pace, but beyond that this feels like a pretty gratuitous nomination, especially since the film isn’t up for Best Picture.

    Who should’ve been here:
    – Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer (watch the film and you’ll understand)
    – Kim Dickens, Gone Girl (everyone talks about Carrie Coon, but I actually think she’s the better performance)
    – Uma Thurman, Nymphomaniac (what she does in one scene is just ridiculously powerful)

    • Andrew Gillespie

      I second the Uma Thurman support. Wasn’t crazy about Nymphomaniac but she was incredible.

  • Still can’t believe Laura Dern was nominated over Jes Chastain.

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