in ,

Six Spot: Supporting Actress 2017


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”

Overall Summary:

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

Catherine KeenerEvery 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. 

SS Kristin Scott THomasThe 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.

SS Hong ChauHong 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.

girls trip still tiffany haddishTiffany 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

SS Holly HunterThis 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”

SS Holly Hunter2

Agree or Disagree? Let us know who you think was the Six Spot in Supporting Actress this year in the comments below.

Check out our Oscar predictions at the Circuit Hub for this year’s race and see who we have predicted to fall in sixth place.

What do you think?

393 points
Upvote Downvote
AC Fan

Written by Christopher James

Christopher James has been an Oscar obsessive ever since watching his first ceremony at age 5 when "Titanic" won Best Picture. He is a recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University with degrees in Screenwriting for Film and Television and Marketing. Christopher currently works in media strategy and planning at Liquid Advertising, based out of Los Angeles, CA. You can find Christopher running on the sunny beach, brunching at trendy restaurants or mostly just sitting in a dark room watching movies and TV in sweatpants. Follow me on Twitter @cwj92movieman


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Joey Magidson



Supporting Actress 2001


I initially thought it was Chau but that argument and the math make too much sense.

Veteran Actress > Globe Nomination – Character Controversy


Agreed and she should have gotten in over Spencer.

Avi Saks

Yep, Hunter over Manville basically

I feel people were trying to make Haddish happen way too hard.


The Favourite Party

Art Directors Guild 2019 Nominees – ‘Black Panther’ Pops Twice While ‘A Quiet Place’ & ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Show Up

Christian Bale Thanks Satan During His Golden Globes 2019 Acceptance Speech

Circuit Q&A – Choice moment from the Golden Globes