Thursday, September 11, 2014

2014 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

Supporting actress, at least in terms of age, is probably the most forgiving and even of the four acting categories.  It's the only category where you can regularly see brand new and emerging talents, character actors scoring a mid-career high, and then an aging veteran back for one last bout with a nomination (just look at last year's Lupita Nyong'o, Sally Hawkins, and June Squibb for a perfect example).

Looking at this year, at least two of those categories are somewhat occupied (I'm still waiting for a 70+ woman to emerge-if you have an idea of one that might, share in the comments).  A number of the top contenders this year are in the ingenue/just starting out category.  Felicity Jones, who may well be moving to lead, would be toward the top of the list.  Playing the devoted and long-suffering wife, she's got Oscar's favorite role and could pull a Jennifer Connelly and win the trophy if she stays supporting (if I were her I'd go for it, as it's difficult to see her winning lead when Redmayne won't).  Joining her is Keira Knightley, playing another long-suffering romantic (or rather platonically romantic) partner to Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game and Emma Stone, who is the long-suffering daughter of a crazy father in Birdman.  Though she's not quite in the ingenue phase of her career anymore at 37, everyone's favorite human being Jessica Chastain apparently gets the best part in Interstellar, so I wouldn't doubt her making it.  Rounding out the ingenue bunch would be Katherine Waterston, the most unknown of the contenders, who gets a plum part in Inherent Vice and seems like the sort of actor we're all going to claim we had heard of in a few months.

Actresses of a certain age, however, are doing quite well this year.  Jennifer Garner and Judy Greer have turned in splendid work in the past though they're a bit under sung as far as actresses go.  Either way, Jason Reitman has been great with getting women in his films recognition (three Oscar nods and five Globe nods in a very short filmography) so they're worth paying attention to (I mean, Ben Affleck's already going to be there to promote Gone Girl...).  Carmen Ejogo plays yet another long-suffering wife in Selma as Coretta Scott King, so if that film takes off (and I suspect it will) she could be a contender (as could Oprah Winfrey who will get a (literal) knockout scene as Annie Lee Cooper, though her miss last year for The Butler is one of those great Oscar mysteries so who knows if they might be over her).  Laura Dern plays Reese Witherspoon's mother in Wild, so if that film truly takes off she could be pushed, but something tells me that Wild will be the Reese show.  Finally, there's Patricia Arquette, who has never been nominated for an Oscar after years of strong work, and could finally make it into the conversation for Boyhood.  I was initially a little apprehensive about people who were so "lockish" about that film (it didn't feel quite right for Oscar), but she is the caliber of actress they like to have nominated at least once (to prove they have good taste) so maybe this will be that time?

Then there's a handful of actresses who could emerge given the right sort of circumstances.  No one is entirely sure how Into the Woods will turn out, but either Emily Blunt or Anna Kendrick should at least be mentioned here.  If the year weakens a bit, we might see Viola Davis for Get on Up come back into the conversation for her brief work in that film.  Then there's always the less showy supporting work of someone like Marisa Tomei in Love is Strange, Kristin Scott Thomas in My Old Lady, or Marion Bailey in Mr. Turner, but those films will need more momentum to get in here.  And if all else fails with Oscar, play a hooker, which could be the trick for Naomi Watts to land a third citation for St. Vincent.

My Predictions: Hmm, I'm going to go with Stone, Waterston, Arquette, Ejogo, and Jones at this point, though if Jones goes lead I'm guessing that Blunt probably moves up to her place.  These five have a nice balance between Best Picture, "due," ingenue, and just a bit of a category fraud.  I still feel like there must be an older actress that could sneak in, but occasionally this category misses its social security recipient so I will stop hunting for now.

Is There a Winner?: This category is the most susceptible to an "out-of-nowhere" winner (Nyong'o won on her film debut), so any of these five women could theoretically win.  If I had to bet, though, I would assume that Ejogo and Jones are the most likely to emerge based on history and their roles.

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