Six Spot: Best Supporting Actress (2014)


Oscar Question

Welcome back to Six Spot!  Click the link if you want to read back issues of Six Spot, but if you’re new, the concept is easy: Who just missed an Oscar nomination?  Who was #6?  Who has the dubious position of being the Six Spot?  In case you missed last week’s Six Spot on the 2010 Best Supporting Actor race, check it out here.

This week, we turn our heads to the 2014 Best Supporting Actress race, which had a sweeper up top and a consistent trio contingent behind her, with the final nominee surprising everyone.

The Nominees Were:

  • Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
  • Laura Dern – Wild
  • Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Contenders for the Six Spot:

  • Rene Russo – Nightcrawler (BAFTA + NSFC runner-up + LAFCA runner-up)
  • Imelda Staunton – Pride (BAFTA)
  • Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year (Golden Globe + BFCA + Indie Spirits + NBR)
  • Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer (BFCA)
  • Naomi Watts – St. Vincent (SAG)
  • Carmen Ejogo – Selma (Indie Spirits)
  • Andrea Suarez Paz – Stand Clear of the Closing Doors (Indie Spirits)
  • Agata Kulesza – Ida (LAFCA win + NSFC runner-up)

This was always Patricia Arquette‘s race.  I admit, early on I thought maybe Keira Knightley had a chance (“her film has to win something!”) or that Emma Stone might be stronger than we expected.  But it quickly became obvious, despite a slightly disingenuous category controversy, that Arquette was anointed to be a sweeper, and sweep she did.  I’m not sure there was nary an award handed out in 2014 that Arquette failed to collect.  Behind her in stalwart tow was Knightley, Stone, and Meryl Streep, all of whom landed a clean sweep of the critical nominations.  Despite a snub in screenplay, Wild somehow showed strength in the home stretch my landing veteran actress Laura Dern her second career nomination.

Patricia Arquette

But who was 6th?

Knowing our dear readers, I have a good idea of the two actress who you probably think were the Six Spot, but let’s talk about the other contenders first.

Right off the bat, I like to “dismiss” the actresses who enjoyed a deserving precursor win/nomination but in reality, sadly likely had very little chance of an Oscar nod.  Despite the film winning Best Foreign Language Film and netting a much-deserved mention in Best Cinematography, I highly doubt Poland’s Ida was strong enough, especially amongst the acting branch, to bring Agata Kulesza into an acting race.  Likewise, the relatively small profile of Stand Clear of the Closing Doors probably prevented Andrea Suarez Paz from receiving her first career Oscar nomination.  British cronyism likely resulted in Imelda Staunton‘s BAFTA nomination for Pride.  Finally, though I usually levy heavy credence to SAG nominations for contenders, Naomi Watts getting a SAG nod for St. Vincent and not Birdman is forever head-scratching.


Now for the contenders in which we can sink our teeth.  Since winning this category in 2007 in shocking fashion, Tilda Swinton has been in pursuit of a second Oscar nomination (okay, WE have been in pursuit on her behalf–she probably doesn’t care….at all).  She made waves in Snowpiercer and was a surprisingly critical favorite for Arquette agnostics.  But the film never made it past BFCA.  The masterful Selma certainly should have received no less than 10 Oscar nominations, including the stellar Carmen Ejogo.  And yet…Selma got two token nominations.  If perhaps Phase 1 had carried on a hair longer (or shorter?), we would have seen Selma climb to the mountaintop.  Nevertheless, David Oyelowo was snubbed, which makes me question just how close the film, or any of its actors, were to a nomination.


Rene Russo‘s fearless, Dunawayean performance in Nightcrawler netted her a critical BAFTA nomination (for an American actress no less) right on the heels of Nightcrawler landing in nearly every tech guild on the circuit, including PGA, ACE, SAG, and WGA.  As we all know, and as I mentioned in the Six Spot for Best Actor 2014, Nightcrawler fumbled at the 5 yard line and crawled to but a single Oscar nomination despite its stellar precursor performance.  I ask here: did they love Nightcrawler enough to get Russo a nod but not Jake Gyllenhaal?  I think that’s a fair question.

Finally, we turn to the Six Spot contender with the most precursor nominations, Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year.  Chastain received a Golden Globe and BFCA nod and an NBR win.  She had received 2 nominations in the last 3 years and continued to star in movie after movie.  But as the momentum for A Most Violent Year stalled, so did Chastain’s.  Like Swinton, Chastain landed in early precursors and then vanished.  No SAG, no BAFTA, and her film received no guild support.  Did they watch the movie?  Was it a conspiracy by WB and Christopher Nolan as many believe?  Hard to say.

There’s no clear answer here, as I think there are three legitimate answers.  But my gut tells me…


The Six Spot for 2014 Best Supporting Actress was:

A Most Violent Year2

Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

What do you guys think?  Was it Swinton?  Russo?  Ejogo?  Let me know in the comments.