Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

The other night I got into an almost knock-down fight with a colleague while we shared the stage on a Oscar panel over who we thought would win Best Supporting Actress this year. It’s not that we didn’t both agree Octavia Spencer had the best chance of winning, nor that she didn’t deserve the nomination, but we bickered over the fact that this year’s female performances were just so marvelous considering how utterly boring the Academy-backed films ended up being. There is no denying the fact, this year’s “Oscar worthy” films (yes, I want you to read that with air quotes and everything) were easily some of the most tired, bland, and kitschy offerings we’ve seen this side of Shakespeare in Love.

But the one thing that is honestly saving this small group of voters from a strongly worded letter from my most prized stationary is the appreciation bestowed upon a fine group of actresses this year. The ladies sharing 2012 Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations are all first time nominees (except for Janet McTeer who was previously nominated in 1999) with performances rivaling veteran women in the Best Actress category. If we go by what the previous award shows say, there is one clear winner, but I think each of these varied ladies brought their A-game with them this season.

Here are the nominations for Best Supporting Actress, with my predicted winner in red

Berenice Bejo, The Artist

Why She Was Nominated:

Bejo sparkles as Hollywood talkie star, Peppy Miller, in her husband Michel Hazanavicius’s love letter to silent era cinema. She hams it up and breaks in as the new  “it” girl for Kinograph studios recent foray into sound, while making enough time to charm the moustache off fallen star George Valentin (Jean DuJardin). Bejo is a natural beauty and she pumps in so much light into an otherwise underdeveloped character.

Why She Might Win:

Bejo is stunning on screen and easily takes on the challenge of acting with her whole body and absolutely no dialogue. She is beautiful to look at and exudes an overwhelming amount of charm in each scene

Why She Might Not Win:

Peppy is a bit stalkery for my taste and she is also a tad too cheesy of a character. Bejo’s nomination almost seems like it’s meant to pad out the list rather than actually give any competition to front-runner Spencer or fan-favorite Melissa McCarthy. Also, she’s married to the director who spends almost as much time allowing DuJardin to fly on screen as he does making his wife the object of the male gaze. She’s pretty and that’s about it.

Previous Nominations: 0

Previous Wins: 0

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Why She Was Nominated:

If you haven’t read The Help then you might not get why casting Chastain was an incredibly bold move. Yes, the woman was in a handful of films last year ranging from over-the-top flamboyant to reserved subtly to scenery chewing, but that doesn’t mean putting her in the role of Celia would have been my first choice. Despite early reservations, Chastain stole the movie for most audiences, and impressed even the most ardent source material critics. The character requires so much vulnerability paired with a huge, naïve heart, and Chastain brought that and more.

Why She Might Win:

She’s beautiful, powerful, and sensual as Celia. She’s playing a character that embodies the American dream of growing up poor and doing something with her life. She disappears into Celia, and never once do you question her character’s decisions.

Why She Might Not Win:

Two actresses nominated from the same film means a split vote or all-or-nothing odds. This isn’t her year to win, but it really should be.

Previous Nominations: 0

Previous Wins: 0

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Why She Was Nominated:

HAVE YOU SEEN BRIDESMAIDS???? Okay, sorry, I really just don’t believe we are having this argument. A made by women not just for women comedy went from condescending snickers amongst the industry to being one of the top earners of 2011. McCarthy won an Emmy, arguably, for her role in Bridesmaids and next she gets to play Jon Hamm’s love interest. If this isn’t living the dreams all women have then I don’t know what is.

Why She Might Win:

Here’s where that before-mentioned vote splitting between Chastain and Spencer might come in to play, allowing for this dark horse to take home the golden statue like nine puppies from a wedding shower. Also, producer Judd Apatow put in a lot of money for Oscar campaigning.

Why She Might Not Win:

Bridesmaids made people laugh, not feel uplifted because a rich white lady helped out an oppressed black lady. McCarthy should be the frontrunner over Spencer, but thanks to lack of respect in the Academy towards comedies she has absolutely no chance.

Previous Nominations: 0

Previous Wins: 0

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Why She Was Nominated:

McTeer did two things perfectly in Albert Nobbs: she transformed herself into a sexy handyman whose life intrigued the shy butler Albert (Glenn Close), and she went toe-to-toe with Close in the emotional depth department. It’s a shame she couldn’t be duking it out with Close and Meryl Streep in the Best Actress Category.

Why She Might Win:

If by some chance voters decide they hate The Help and everything it stands for then she might have a chance. But why would they do that?

Why She Might Not Win:

Her performance was a knockout but she has about as much chance winning as Bejo.

Previous Nominations: 1 (for Best Actress)

Previous Wins: 0

Octavia Spencer, The Help

Why She Was Nominated:

Minnie made a shit pie look delicious and then fed it to her former boss, the vile Hilly Holbrook. Spencer easily had the most buzzed-about performance of the year, even before you knew the pie was full of shit.

Why She Might Win:

This shouldn’t be why she “might” win, but why she will win. Minnie was a hard-to-understand gruff character in the book and she needed someone to not only become her but believe in her. There  is no doubt that Spencer understood Minnie and wanted to bring a vulnerability to her that any other actress might not have been able to achieve.

Why She Might Not Win:

Oh, she will win. Period. End of story.

Previous Nominations: 0

Previous Wins: 0

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