2016 Oscar Circuit: Best Supporting Actress



Welcome to our annual Oscar Circuit series, our deep down look into each and every category that will be presented at the upcoming Academy Awards.  Each writer of AwardsCircuit.com will tackle a different category, offering up their own perspectives on those specific races.  If you miss a piece, click on the tag titled Oscar Circuit 2016. You can also see the official Oscar Predictions for that particular race by clicking on the link here or at the bottom of each article.  Make sure to include your predicted winners in the comment section too!

With the term “category fraud” flying around more than a Frisbee, the Best Supporting Actress lineup this year is incredibly questionable and problematic. Only two women really have a shot, so this could be a real non-starter but, let’s try to objectively decide who’s going home with a man in gold.

The Nominees Are:

  • Rachel McAdams (“Spotlight“)
  • Rooney Mara (“Carol“)
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh (“The Hateful Eight“)
  • Kate Winslet (“Steve Jobs“)
  • Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl“)


Reminiscent of Julia Roberts’ dogged determination in “Erin Brockovich,” Rachel McAdams’ Sacha Pfeiffer in Spotlight deserved more scenes. No disrespect to the fantastic ensemble cast Tom McCarthy assembled, but McAdams gives off a sensitivity mingling with her deep-rooted desire to “tell it right” which make her scenes stand out. As the lone female on the Spotlight team, there are moments where she feels like “the girl.” One or two more moments could have put her on firmer ground in terms of awards recognition, and in a year where she was Southpaw’s woman in the refrigerator she continues to push her way through the male dominated films she’s in and create magic. This is the first nomination in the first of many, but a nomination, period.


Come on, guys! This should be Sarah Paulson’s slot. Rooney Mara’s Therese in Carol is a lead performance, pure and simple. Therese is the eyes through which we view Carol, and the world around her. We watch Therese transform from a woman who can’t say no into an individual able to say yes to the things she truly wants. Carol may be the film’s title, but Mara should be placed alongside Cate Blanchett  in Lead Actress. However, it’s doubtful she’ll secure the win. Previously nominated in the lead category for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Mara’s performance here is just as insightful, if not nearly as provocative. The question of whether it’s a lead performance or not may cause votes to split between her and Blanchett, and considering Blanchett’s dubious prospects and the film being shut out in Director and Picture the film looks to be going home empty-handed.


I have very little to say about Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” overall, but Jennifer Jason Leigh more than deserves the award – more so for enduring how her character is treated than anything else. It’s shocking that in Jason Leigh’s forty-year career this is the first time she’s been nominated! Talk about the perfect narrative for rewarding her. Then again, the mixed response to her Daisy Domergue character – and the lack of noise over the film itself – leaves this dead on arrival. Hopefully Jason Leigh gets more recognition from here on out.


Personally, I have issues with how the character of Joanna Hoffman is written, but for the Oscars she could go home with the award. As of this writing BAFTA awards are on-going – where Winslet is also nominated – and that could be another indicator of her stealing this from frontrunner Alicia Vikander. Surprising everyone, even Winslet herself, was the Golden Globe award given for her portrayal as Hoffman, one of the first cracks in the Vikander spree. The love for “Steve Jobs” is divisive, and Winslet looks to be the only one with any significant shot of getting the award for the film. BAFTA could help or it could mean nothing.


The Best Supporting Actress category loves supporting an ingenue, whether it’s Emma Stone for “Birdman” or Lupita Nyong’o for “12 Years a Slave.” This year’s ingenue is breakout star Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl.” Is she supporting or lead? That’s a debate raging online and I’m leaning towards the latter – she is referred to in the film by its title, after all. Vikander missed out on the Globe but that could be due to her nomination in two different categories for two different films – she went Supporting for Ex Machina; the same situation is happening with BAFTA. Past precedent usually sees this going to a breakout star and/or a long overdue female, preferably playing someone suffering through something terrible, any combination of the three will do. Considering Vikander’s role as the suffering wife, we could be seeing another Nyong’o or Anne Hathaway win.

Will Win: Winslet and Vikander are the frontrunners but I’ve heard far more chatter about Vikander’s win than Winslet’s despite the former’s Globe snag. I’m leaning towards Vikander on this one.

Could Win: Winslet won the Globe so if anyone’s popping out of this category it’ll be her.

Should Win: I’d love Jennifer Jason Leigh to win, but for a different role (and, no, Anomolisa isn’t better) or McAdams.