Six Spot #12: 2014 Best Supporting Actress

7

Oscar Question

Welcome back to The Six Spot! Long time no see! In case you’re new to Six Spot, here’s an easy rundown: I look at the hard evidence of an awards season and try my very best to predict who finished just shy of an Oscar nomination. Basically, I find out who came in 6th. This is a weekly article, debuting each Monday (maybe until Emmy Season). If you’d like to catch up on all 11 episodes of Season 1 of Six Spots from 2014, they can be found here.

I know some of you were dying for a Six Spot during the 2014 Oscar season. Sorry I couldn’t deliver until now! For the season premiere of season 2 of Six Spot, I bring you a surprisingly difficult 2014 Six Spot challenge: Best Supporting Actress.

Here goes nothing!

supportingactress_oscarsThe First Five Spots

The Academy Award nominees were

  • Patricia Arquette – Boyhood ***
  • Laura Dern – Wild
  • Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
  • Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
  • Emma Stone – Birdman

Patricia Arquette

Breakdown of Seasonal Hardware

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Key Wins: Golden Globe, SAG, BFCA, BAFTA, LAFCA Lead Actress, Indie Spirits, NSFC, NYFCC
Key Nominations: Everything she didn’t win

Laura Dern – Wild

Key Nominations: Chicago Film Critics Association, being insanely charming

Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game

Key Nominations: BAFTA, SAG, BFCA, Golden Globe

Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Key Nominations: Golden Globe, SAG, BFCA, being Meryl Streep

Emma Stone – Birdman

Key Nominations: Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG, BFCA, Indie Spirits

_________________________________________________________________

Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer

Key Nominations: BFCA

Jessica Chastain A Most Violent Year

Key Nominations: Golden Globe, BFCA, Indie Spirits, NBR

Imelda Staunton Pride

Key Nominations: BAFTA

Rene Russo Nightcrawler

Key Nominations: BAFTA, LAFCA runner-up, NCFC runner-up

Naomi Watts St. Vincent and/or Birdman

Key Nominations: SAG

Carmen Ejogo – Selma

Key Nominations: Indie Spirits

The Contenders for The Six Spot

I hate to summarily dismiss some of these contenders out of hand, but I highly doubt voters either a) watched Pride and Snowpiercer or b) cared for them if they did watch them. Not that those films aren’t good, but they don’t seem to be in the Academy’s wheelhouse without a campaign behind them. Therefore, I somewhat doubt either Oscar nominee (and real life Mrs. Carson for you Downton Abbey fans) Imelda Staunton or Oscar winner Tilda Swinton per close to the final five, despite noteworthy precursor showings. Likewise, despite her curious SAG nomination and her heavy presence in the eventual Best Picture winner, I doubt Naomi Watts was very close to a nod for either her work in St. Vincent or Birdman.

Years with a sweeper can be difficult for anyone else in the race. Not necessarily because they have no shot at winning, but because the narrative is never on anyone else, ever—and because of that, contenders can solidify quickly and without much pomp or circumstance while fringe contenders can’t get arrested in a blog article about the category. Nevertheless, I think three women have a strong argument for the Six Spot:

mostviolentyear_chastain

Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year

I’m going to guess that most people will lean towards the perennial contender Jessica Chastain for her chewy work in A Most Violent Year. It was certainly the type of role the Academy has embraced in the past (in 1990 for example). However, the ever-important Six Spot rule of The Didn’t Like Her Movie applies. It’s difficult, to me, to logically argue that someone was very close to a nomination when their film popped up nowhere else on Oscar morning. Chastain certainly has the precursor hardware to merit the Six Spot (Globe, BFCA, Indie Spirits, and NBR), but beyond that…the film seemed to faceplant everywhere else. 

rene-russo-nightcrawlerRene Russo – Nightcrawler

I am certainly guilty of being tempted by the lovely Rene Russo when it came to predicting the final five nominees in this race. I wasn’t alone—Clayton and numerous other Oscar prognosticators had Russo ahead of Dern and many others. Why though? Well, after just a mere screenplay nod, it’s hard to recall that Nightcrawler was tearing up the precursors—guild after guild mention, Gyllenhaal landing BFCA, BAFTA, Globe, Indie Spirits, and SAG. She even managed a BAFTA nod! And yet, on Oscar morning, Nightcrawler crawled to only one nomination. Is it possible this was a curious case of precursor voter v. Oscar voter dissonance?—because it’s reasonable to think many voters didn’t like Nightcrawler. So the question remains—did they like Russo?

carmenejogo_selma

Carmen Ejogo – Selma

On paper, using simply the precursors, it’s hard to justify even placing the lovely Carmen Ejogo on a short list for the Six Spot for her marvelous work on Selma. On one hand, she’s worthy and had a clear vehicle for “coattail” momentum. And yet…we heard report after report that voters were racist didn’t see Selma in time. Were David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay the Six Spot in their respective races? I think that’s very possible…and yet, I find it difficult to really commit to this.

Without further ado, I think the Six Spot for the 2002 Best Picture race was….

:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::
:::

The Six Spot

A Most Violent Year2

Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year

This was rougher than it looks like. The three finalists all have compelling arguments for and against them. I arrived at Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year as the Six Spot to the 2014 Best Supporting Actress race essentially by process of elimination.

Firstly, Ejogo was in a movie that limped in as is. While Selma managed a very worthy Best Picture nomination, it lost out on Best Actor, Best Director, and numerous other top and technical races. Likewise, wouldn’t it seem a little…odd if Selma landed three nominations: Best Picture, Best Song, and Best Supporting Actress? I can’t place my finger on it, but it seems unlikely.

Secondly, Russo was a situation that always seems to be coattails or bust. Basically, she was going to ride in on a film that landed a Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Editing, etc. nomination, but she was never going to be the sole or secondary representation for her film. Because of this, I seriously doubt she was the Six Spot.

Finally, Chastain can look to other 2014 nominees to rebut the most damning argument against her: her film got no other nominations. Just look at other acting nominees Julianne Moore, Marion Cotillard, Rosamund Pike, and Robert Duvall to find performers as the only representation for their films. Not to mention, Chastain’s role is loud and fun, Interstellar buzz had been sucked into a black hole, and she had enough precursor love to merit attention. For these reasons, I think Jessica Chastain is the Six Spot to our 2014 Best Supporting Actress race!

What do you guys think? Who do YOU think was the Six Spot of the 2002 Best Picture race? Was it Jessica Chastain, Carmen Ejogo, Rene Russo, or one of the other many contenders? Sound off in the Comments!

(Also, in case you haven’t noticed, I listen to suggestions! So if you have a fun suggestion for future Six Spots, let me know in the Comments!)