Sizing Up: Best Supporting Actress 2015

cloudsofsilsmaria6Continuing on with the Sizing Up series, this one is a look at the slate of Best Supporting Actress contenders. As always with this annual tradition of mine, this is as large a grouping of the hopefuls as is possible, categorizing them by their assumed likelihood of a nomination come the big morning. Oftentimes, more than a few of the Best Picture nominees wind up with some form of representation here, and this year I think there will be a least a little bit of a correlation in that regard, but of course absolutely anything is possible with the Academy. Just to quickly brag, I got all five right in 2014, including eventual winner Patricia Arquette for Boyhood. We shall see what happens in the end this year, but enough talk, right? Let’s go right ahead and take a look at the contenders for Best Supporting Actress and size up the field!

The “Wishful Thinking” Category

Let me throw out a few names right off the bat that have no chance of getting nominated this year. I’d say that Glenn Close (5 to 7), Lola Kirke (Mistress America), Keira Knightley (Everest), Julianne Moore (Maggie’s Plan), and Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs). Special shout out to Brie Larson (Trainwreck), who will fall short here but could actually be winning in Best Actress. Those are just a few ladies (some who deserve far better as well) that you can safely disregard from the race, but they’re certainly not the only ones, by any stretch. Moving on though, let’s go ahead and focus on the people who might actually have a decent shot at this, starting with, of course, the long shots for a nod.

The “Dark horse/Long shot” Category

This first particular group consists of ten supporting actresses that I think almost certainly won’t be nominees in the end, but aren’t out of the race completely yet and deserve a small mention at this point. They either have films that won’t really be able to make big headway in the race, performances that won’t appeal to the Academy strongly enough, or just don’t have any real traction to date to move them forward. Some of them are potentially bigger contenders than others and could wind up surprising you a little bit, but for me I’m inclined to bet against each and every one of them right now. The ladies in question here are:

earl5Rose ByrneSpy
Olivia CookeMe and Earl and the Dying Girl
Laura Dern99 Homes
Amber HeardThe Danish Girl
Diane LaneTrumbo
Gugu Mbatha-RawConcussion
Julianne NicholsonBlack Mass
Phylicia RashadCreed
Tilda SwintonTrainwreck
Marisa TomeiThe Big Short

Much like the last few years, and especially this year, it’s a pretty lean lineup here, no doubt about that. Sadly though, that’s the nature of this category for 2015. Aside from a teensy tiny possibility that someone like Olivia Cooke for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl or Phylicia Rashad for Creed catches on, no one is even coming close here. I’d love to see Tilda Swinton mentioned a bit on the precursor circuit for Trainwreck, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for her. Regardless, these aren’t the heavy hitters for the category, not by a long shot. Fear not though, as we’ll be getting to those soon enough…

The “Second Tier” Contenders

This next set of gals are more solidly in play for some attention in the Best Supporting Actress field, but have at least a few question marks impeding them from further progress at the current moment. I think they all will wind up fading away by the time nomination morning rolls around, but it’s possible one or two of them could ride the precursor wave still to come and wind up with a surprise nomination when all is said and done, especially considering the category on the whole. There are ten of these particular actresses that would like to be considered big time contenders. At least one or two of them have been predicted for nods at some point this season, but I don’t see them as especially big ones right now, though like I said, they’re not too far off. The ones I see in this specific light are a varied bunch of women and happen to be as follows:

12OPTICS-slide-FCUV-superJumboHelena Bonham CarterSuffragette
Diane LaddJoy
Laura LinneyMr. Holmes
Helen MirrenTrumbo
Ellen PageFreeheld
Sarah PaulsonCarol
Isabella RosselliniJoy
Mya TaylorTangerine
Tessa ThompsonCreed
Rachel WeiszYouth

If you asked me which contenders that I have a good feeling about from this bunch, I’d look at possibly Laura Linney for Mr. Holmes, Sarah Paulson for Carol (if there’s a category swap involving one of her co-stars), and maybe even Mya Taylor for Tangerine, but they’re all still a ways away from being close to a nomination. Had Freeheld been a better received movie, I would have suspected that Ellen Page would have been a threat, but that’s not the case. A surprise might come from Tessa Thompson in Creed, but more than likely these ladies will all fall short, at least with the top dozen still to come. The one exception might be Helen Mirren for Trumbo, considering her surprise SAG nomination, but I don’t think it’s going to translate to Oscar.

The “Pole Position” Contenders

Well now, here at last, we have the dozen most likely contenders for a Best Supporting Actress nomination in my eyes this year. My personal Academy Award predictions at this point (as is always the case) feature five of the women in this grouping, though that’s hardly surprising. They each have a lot going in their favor and seem to be in position for some more precursor attention in the coming weeks. They’re also the stars of some of the more highly and hotly mentioned films of the year, and I don’t expect that to change too much as the precursors begin. The 12 particular thespians that I speak so highly of? They are:

5142Joan AllenRoom
Elizabeth BanksLove & Mercy
Marion CotillardMacbeth
Jane FondaYouth
Jennifer Jason LeighAnomalisa / The Hateful Eight
Rooney MaraCarol
Rachel McAdamsSpotlight
Cynthia NixonJames White
Kristen StewartClouds of Sils Maria
Alicia VikanderThe Danish Girl
Julie WaltersBrooklyn
Kate WinsletSteve Jobs

To start, we have to address the potential for Rooney Mara and/or Alicia Vikander to switch to the Best Actress field. If Mara does for her role in Carol or Vikander does for hers in The Danish Girl, that will cripple Best Supporting Actress, but for now they both seem like locks here, with SAG nods to help out that distinction. Also close to locked is Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs (also getting a SAG nom), especially if that title rebounds somewhat from its disappointing box office. We also can likely expect Jennifer Jason Leigh to get in, probably for The Hateful Eight (which I’ve seen but am embargoed from discussing), but there’s a tiny chance it can happen for Anomalisa. The safer bet is on the latter helping to get her in for the former. That leaves eight contenders for the last slot. Longer shots from the group consist of Marion Cotillard for Macbeth, Cynthia Nixon for James White, and Julie Walters for Brooklyn. As such, that spot is a fight between Joan Allen for Room, Elizabeth Banks for Love & Mercy, Jane Fonda for Youth, Rachel McAdams for Spotlight, and Kristen Stewart for Clouds of Sils Maria. My hunch is that it’s between Banks, McAdams, and Stewart here. McAdams is the safest bet, especially with the SAG citation, but I’d watch out for Stewart, who is the strongest early year contender of the bunch. Stay tuned here to see what happens, especially if Mara and/or Vikander winds up moving from Supporting to Lead.

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Thoughts? How do you see Best Supporting Actress shaping up? Discuss in the comments!