I wanted to talk a little bit about Supporting Actress, because something hit me last night. This category is notorious for embracing newbies. Every category usually has at least one, but this category in particular is known for almost nominating entire sets of newbies. Let’s just break down the aughts for a minute.
2000: 2 newbies
2001: 1 newbie
2002: 2 newbies
2003: 1 newbie
2004: 3 newbies
2005: 3 newbies
2006: 4 newbies
2007: 4 newbies
2008: 2 newbies
2009: 4 newbies
2010: 2 newbies
2011: 4 newbies
So, out of 60 nominees, 32 have been newbies. That’s over half, and an average of 2/3 newbies every year. Now, it has happened before that only 1 newbie has gotten in, but the last time that happened was in 2003. In fact, since 2006 the average has been 4 newbies, with the occasional 2. So, with the barrage of returning nominees (in EVERY CATEGORY) I have a feeling that we’re going to get some new blood here to spice up the lineup.
But, there are three obvious frontrunners, and they are all returning nominees.
1) Anne Hathaway/Les Miserables
2) Amy Adams/The Master
3) Helen Hunt/The Sessions
Of those three, I could see (possibly) Adams and Hunt missing if the overall reaction to their films come awards season is focused on their male co-stars. But, the ink they have generated at this point places them safely in the top tier at the moment.
Then you have a slew of other previously nominated actresses vying for a spot. Sally Field in ‘Lincoln’ has uneven but noteworthy reviews. Maggie Smith has had a banner year and some are suggesting that she could get a surprise nomination for ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’. Nicole Kidman has received some passionate reviews for ‘The Paperboy’, and despite the film’s general lukewarm welcome, she could prove to snags some important precursor support, namely a Golden Globe mention. The recent trailer for ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ makes it look like more of a contender than I initially thought, and Chastain could benefit from that (they like returning nominees). Pauline Collins has received great mentions for ‘Quartet’, but the film itself is making a very, very miniscule impact and has all but died. BAFTA could resurrect it, and Collins’ chances. Helena Bonham Carter has a real scene stealing role in ‘Les Miserables’ and could factor in for that as well, especially with BAFTA.
See, the list goes on and on…but there will be fresh blood and so I’m thinking that all six of these potential nominees miss in the long run.
So the question is, who makes it? Who has a shot to take up a newbie spot? With the bounty of returning nominees in this category, the list of new blood is relatively small. You have both Samantha Barks and Amanda Seyfried for ‘Les Miserables’. True, AMPAS could go all ‘The Godfather Part II’ here and nominate THREE actresses in this category from the same film, but I don’t really see that coming. Seyfried is the rising star of the two, but Cosette is truly the blandest of the characters in the stage musical and really has almost no definable arc (in teenage form) so I don’t see her happening, except maybe at the Globes, in the lead category (category confusion). That said, I think that Barks is happening and have said that since year’s beginning. Barks has always been my number two prediction, right behind Hathaway. AMPAS loves embracing two actresses from the same film in this category. It has happened six times since 2001. ‘Les Miserables’ is the perfect project to generate that kind of attention this year.
4) Samantha Barks/Les Miserables
So, in my eyes, the fifth spot is between two people; Scarlett Johansson and Kelly Reilly. I love them both and in my eyes they should both be Oscar nominees at this point (Johansson for ‘Lost in Translation’ and ‘Scoop’ and Reilly for ‘Eden Lake’) and they really have AMPAS friendly roles this year. Scarlett is playing Janet Leigh in ‘Hitchcock’, and while the trailer did not utilize her much, the more I think about it the more I feel like it looks like that role that gets you your first nomination. She’s playing an actress playing the role that won her her only Oscar nomination. It is a biopic that is being released this year for awards attention, and I always had Scarlett as my potential winner NEXT YEAR, when I thought ‘Hitchcock’ was going to be released. Kelly Reilly is playing an addict in ‘Flight’ and is said to have a really juicy role. She’s also not featured much at all in the trailer for the film, but the role is one that AMPAS usually salivates over. At the moment, I’m still giving the edge to Scarlett. She’s seen as more overdue I think. She’s worked with a lot of people in the industry. She’s come close to Oscar before (in 2003 many consider her a snubbed actress) and she’s won some important film awards (BAFTA), been nominated for a slew of Globes (and will get one this year regardless of her Oscar chances) and has recently won a Tony, which has put her back in the conversation as ‘good actress’. This just feels like her time.
5) Scarlett Johansson/Hitchcock
So that’s where I am at the moment. No change to be made on the sidebar, since I threw in Johansson after ‘Hitchcock’ was announced as a 2012 contender. I stand by that at the moment. Reviews will make or break her at this point. I desperately await them.