All hail the return of Six Spot! We’re back analyzing who came closest to an Oscar nomination in any given category, in any given year, but fell just shy of the nabbing a coveted spot. In short, who came in sixth place?
We’re starting with the freshest wound that still hasn’t healed, the 2017 Best Supporting Actress race. While one woman dominated the precursor wins, there was a lot of support for some other nominees, while one person sneaked in at the last minute, despite little precursor support.
The Nominees Were:
- Mary J. Blige – “Mudbound”
- Allison Janney – “I, Tonya” (Winner)
- Leslie Manville – “Phantom Thread”
- Laurie Metcalf – “Lady Bird”
- Octavia Spencer – “The Shape of Water”
For context, Allison Janney won the hat trick of precursor awards, snatching televised wins at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Critics Choice Awards, and BAFTA ceremonies. Laurie Metcalf was the only other nominee who showed up on all three lists, on top of winning multiple prizes from critics groups. Mary J. Blige seemed safe, having picked up Golden Globe, SAG, and Critics Choice nominations while Octavia Spencer earned Globe, Critics Choice, and BAFTA nods, but missing the SAG. Ultimately, Leslie Manville was the surprise nominee, only having a BAFTA nomination prior to Oscar nomination morning.
The “Six Spot” Contenders Are:
- Hong Chau – “Downsizing” (Golden Globes, SAG, Critics Choice)
- Tiffany Haddish – “Girls Trip” (Critics Choice, NYFCC Win)
- Holly Hunter – “The Big Sick” (SAG, Critics Choice, Independent Spirit)
- Catherine Keener – “Get Out” (Best Picture nominee)
- Kristin Scott Thomas – “Darkest Hour” (BAFTA)
- Lois Smith – “Marjorie Prime” (Independent Spirit)
- Taliah Lennice Webster – “Good Time” (Independent Spirit)
Independent Spirit Buzz
It’s always nice to get an Independent Spirit nomination. However, that usually helps put a borderline contender over the edge. Those with lone Independent Spirit nominations are usually long shots with small pockets of support. Lois Smith at least got a Saturn Award win for her performance in “Marjorie Prime.” Paired with a small role in Best Picture nominee “Lady Bird,” Smith had a better shot than Taliah Lennice Webster in “Good Time.” However, both were very much on the outside, and likely no within an earshot of a spot.
Best Picture Heat
Every once in a while, a nominee sneaks in with no prior precursors due to Best Picture heat. Think of it as the “Jacki Weaver” path to a nomination based on the “Silver Linings Playbook” traction which landed her a surprise entry in the 2012 race.
The Best Picture nominations for “The Post” or “Call Me By Your Name” were not going to help Sarah Paulson, Carrie Coon or Amira Casar to their first nominations. This based virtually on their small amount of screen time and absence from the precursor circuit. However, there was a time where the Best Picture heat for “Get Out” might have gotten the likes of Catherine Keener into the lineup. A prior nominee for 1999’s “Being John Malkovich,” Keener also had a snub or two under her belt (“Into the Wild”) and might have made been that “WTF?” nomination, despite the lack of precursor support. In a more just world, Keener’s co-star Betty Gabriel would have also had enough traction to get in for her stellar work. Nonetheless, this didn’t seem like the race where that would happen.
The real contender who could have used their film’s Best Picture heat to get a nomination was Kristin Scott Thomas. The “Darkest Hour” star reaped a BAFTA nomination, which was expected given how that particular awards body votes. However, it also illustrates support within a group with Academy voter overlap.
One Nominee Wonders
It’s hard to be the lone nominee for one’s movie. Best Supporting Actress usually finds last-minute contenders ride the coattails of a Picture or lead performer to a nomination. These actresses usually displace a performer with many more precursors whose movie isn’t showing up anywhere else. Since the expanded Best Picture lineup, only Helen Hunt for “The Sessions” and Jacki Weaver for “Animal Kingdom” were able to be the lone nominees for their films in all categories.
Hong Chau had the best major precursor performance among the women snubbed in the category. She pulled off the hat trick of landing Golden Globes, SAG and Critics Choice nominations. The major dilemma was her movie. “Downsizing” was an epic holiday flop. On top of a poor box office (as a wide release), the film received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics, with many citing Chau’s character as a racist depiction.
Interesting statistic: twelve performances, across the four acting categories in history, has been nominated for all three of the major precursor awards (GG, SAG, CC) and missed out an Oscar nomination. Half of those were from movies that got no other nominations from the Academy.
Tiffany Haddish had a similar buzz for “Girls Trip,” but also be the lone nomination for her film. It’s not often that the Academy goes for a broadly comic performance. Though, it occasionally happens in the Supporting Actress category (Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids,” Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny”). In a shocker, Haddish won the New York Film Critics Circle prize and was nominated for a Critics Choice award. The heat and narrative were there and seemed to be percolating at various times in the season. Despite this, groups with Oscar overlap never showed support.
The Veteran Slot
This leaves Holly Hunter for her lauded performance in “The Big Sick.” Hunter plays the brass, no-nonsense mother of a woman who finds herself in a coma. “The Big Sick” was a dream that allowed Hunter to play many different notes. She’s won an Oscar prior and reaped a total of four nominations. She received plenty of critics awards and contended at some of the televised ceremonies. She seemed to have everything it took to get into Best Supporting Actress. Her only misstep was missing at the Golden Globes. Usually, that is forgivable since its a small voting body. However, this chink in her armor led way for Manville to surprise.
The Six Spot for 2017 Best Supporting Actress was:
Holly Hunter for “The Big Sick”