Oscar Circuit: Supporting Actress

The+Oscar+nominees+for+Best+Supporting+ActressSupporting Actress has proven to be one of the best categories recently for the Academy Awards. For every year there was a clear front runner (Spencer, Monique, Hudson), there was another year when we had no idea who was winning (Leo, Swinton, Weisz, Cruz). Although after a few award shows, it’s clear that this year’s race is shaping up to be one of those “Frontrunner wins everything” years, there’s still an interesting slate of nominees and narratives to discuss.

And the nominees are…

Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Amy Adams, The Master
Adams received her fourth Oscar nomination for her role as Lancaster Dodd’s wife in The Master. While the film isn’t really heavy on her big moments, there’s lots of intrigue about the character and her role in moving the cause forward. Adams gives a somewhat slithery/icy performance, never overplaying the character’s motivations and challenging the gender roles in the film.
Oscar Scene: The scene with her and Lancaster in the bathroom
Pro: Modern day Lady MacBethian character, arguably a long suffering wife (their favorite character type), FOURTH Oscar nom and no previous wins, well liked actress, argument could be made for her being one of “The Master”s
Con: Outside of the acting, no noms for The Master, people don’t like the character, hard to be “overdue” when all your noms are in supporting, the fact that her best scene involved giving a handjob

Sally Field, Lincoln
Playing real people is certainly catnip to Oscar voters, but it’s quite a pleasant surprise that Field managed to get nominated given how the Academy has treated her since that last win. As Mary Todd Lincoln, she has to walk the line of being slightly unhinged by the death of her son and serving as comic relief being the only woman who can stand up to the men.
Oscar Scene: Showdown with Tommy Lee Jones at Inaugural Ball
Pro: REAL PERSON ALERT, gets to play both comedy and histrionics, she’s Sally Field, previous Oscar winner making good on film again, her film is the nominee leader
Con: Already has two Oscars, people think the character doesn’t jive with the film, Anne Hathaway’s continual humble acceptance speeches, Meryl Streep stans who don’t want her to tie their deity favorite actress

Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
As the doomed Fantine, Anne Hathaway gets a showcase role many actresses would kill for. Even after the reviews of the film poured in and were largely negative, everyone highlighted Hathaway’s performance. She’s easily emerged as the front runner after winning the Critics Choice, Golden Globe, and SAG Award for her performance.
Oscar Scene: I Dreamed a Dream
Pro: Sings, Cries and Dies!, the Academy loves prostitutes (2nd favorite character in this category), LIVE singing, cuts hair off on screen (serious about the craft), is generally well liked in Hollywood, front runner status, this video
Cons: Being a front runner makes you a target, the dismal reviews for the film, backlash, small amount of screen time in a long movie

Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Hellen Hunt has come back to the land of good performances with her role in The Sessions. Her performance is one that could have easily been overplayed and overshadowed (the character gets talked about for 20 mins before we see her), but Hunt’s subtle performance is as refreshing as it is good.
Oscar Scene: Cheryl admits her feelings for Mark
Pros: REAL PERSON ALERT, subtly steals the film away from John Hawkes, sex surrogate (close enough to prostitute), makes a character people would have negative opinions about into a complete positive, previous Oscar winner rejoining the ranks of nominees
Cons: While the Academy may love a hooker with a heart of gold, the movie goes out of its way to say she’s not a prostitute, incredibly sex positive role (they don’t really like those), long absence from making good movies let alone giving a good performance, film’s sole nomination

Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
As the mother to Bradley Cooper’s bipolar son, Weaver is perhaps the most surprising of the nominees given the role’s narrative impact and screen time. Despite that, she manages to create a fully realized character that people remember and like.
Oscar Scene: The car ride home after picking up her son from the mental institution
Pro: Suffering mother and wife, previous nominee, her film is incredibly well liked and um…her character can cook?
Cons: The least showy and least memorable character with the least amount of screen time of any actress in this category.

If I Had a Vote: Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Will Win: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Snubs: Ann Dowd, Compliance, Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy, Doona Bae, Cloud Atlas