Oscar Predictions 2014: Supporting Actress

Every year, the Academy Awards kick into two extremely important categories quite early, swiftly doling out Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actors statuettes before most people have settled into their seats (both at the ceremony and at whatever shindig viewers are throwing in the safety of their own home). It’s a whirlwind and it’s a hell of way to start off the show, but damn if it doesn’t always feel a bit stilted. These are big awards, you guys, and they so often signal the arrival of new talents to watch out for, the kind of thespians we might soon see going for leading awards. Give them some space!

The Supporting section also allows for a great variety of nominees, recognizing performers of every age, from veterans to newbies, and from every kind of performance, from those who appear alongside leads throughout features and those who show up for a memorable minute or so. This year’s Best Supporting Actress field, however, places a premium on heft — at least, on hefty performance time — including five actresses who quite easily helped make their features sing, and a few that might just have squeaked by with a Best Actress nomination instead (sorry, Julia Roberts). But who will win? Oh, we don’t know, but we’ve got some ideas.

Keep reading for a look at all five nominees for Best Supporting Actress along with my predicted winner in red

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Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

Sally Hawkins Blue Jasmine

Why She Was Nominated

Personal uproar aside, Woody Allen has a knack for directing his actresses to extremely fine performances, and both Hawkins and Best Actress nominee Cate Blanchett are proof positive that hasn’t changed in 2014. Hawkins matched pace with Blanchett at every turn in Blue Jasmine, and in a film stacked with solid performances, she more than held her own.

Why She Might Win

Sure, it’s possible Hawkins could swoop in and split the votes between Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o, and it’s also possible that could happen with June Squibb or Julia Roberts. It’s also possible that neither of those things are going to happen (they are not).

Why She Might Not Win

Face facts: this is not Hawkins’ year, simply because she doesn’t have enough heat on her performance and there’s an unshakable cloud of unease around Allen now. The good news, however, is that a first nomination is a fine feather in anyone’s cap, and this sort of work and recognition will only help Hawkins land more parts — including the kind that could win an Oscar.

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Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle

Why She Was Nominated

The Academy has already made it plain that they’re fans of Hollywood’s brightest new It Girl, nominating her for Best Leading Actress for the underseen but still career-making Winter’s Bone back in 2011, and then bestowing the same award on her for last year’s Silver Linings Playbook. Lawrence’s appeal is obvious — and if it’s enough to get her a whole damn Oscar for a film that was miles less interesting than Winter’s Bone, it’s certainly enough to earn her a nomination for her next team-up with director David O. Russell.

Why She Might Win

The people love her, and her work in American Hustle has already pulled her a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a sizable bunch of critics awards. While her role in the film is very firmly supporting, Lawrence added serious style and pizzazz to her work, and she lit up the screen every single time she appeared. And let’s get real here – American Hustle is getting all kinds of accolades for the wrong roles. Lawrence is a freight train, even if she didn’t do the best work this year.

Why She Might Not Win

Although Lawrence has the momentum — a Golden Globe win will do that for you – American Hustle lacks the kind of heady seriousness that screams Oscar. It doesn’t even have the benefit of portraying mental illness, for chrissakes! (Yes, that’s a bit of a dig at Playbook.)

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Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Lupita Nyongo 12 Years a Slave

Why She Was Nominated

The breakout star of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o injected wrenching humanity and finely tuned emotion into her every scene as the horribly abused slave Patsey. A deeply human performance in a deeply human film, it’s impossible to ignore Nyong’o. (And why would you want to?)

Why She Might Win

Because she turned in the best supporting performance by an actress this year. (Easy enough, right?)

Why She Might Not Win

Jennifer Lawrence.

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June Squibb, Nebraska

June Squibb Nebraska

Why She Was Nominated

A veteran of stage and screen, it’s so good to see Squibb back in front of the camera in a prestige picture that she can (and did) contribute nothing but punch and brass to. She’s the pistol of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, a firecracker and a spirit to reckon with, and there are few things that the Academy likes more than a cherished elder stateslady proving that she’s still got it.

Why She Might Win

Because she’s still got it! The Academy is notoriously made up of older folks, and it’s possible that they’ve tired of the young ones and want to give the big prize to one of their own. It would be all the better because Squibb is more than worthy of an Oscar for her work.

Why She Might Not Win

Squibb seems to just be enjoying the ride of awards madness, probably because she’s a grown up and a neat lady who realizes what’s going on here. All the heat is on Lawrence and Nyong’o, and it will be a stunner if either of those don’t walk away with the prize.

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Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

Julia Roberts August Osage County

Why She Was Nominated

John Wells’ film might be a bit dishy and soapy and wildly over the top, but underneath all that home-cooked yelling, there are a hefty number of truly good performances. Roberts’ is one of them, and while she should have been slid over to Best Actress (where, quite honestly, she probably wouldn’t have made the cut) to make room for the divine Julianne Nicholson here, she’s not a bad pick. It also doesn’t hurt she’s a returning winner and nominee.

Why She Might Win

Roberts is great in August, raging and screaming and swearing with the best of them, and matching Meryl Streep at every single turn. The movie itself might not have been a hit, but Roberts gave 110% to the effort, and it shows.

Why She Might Not Win

August: Osage County is prestige picture that never quite clicked with, well, anyone, and most people seem to have forgotten she was even nominated.

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Who Should Win: Lupita Nyong’o.

The boldness and bravery of Nyong’o’s first major part is stunning, and gifting the emerging new actress with a little gold man is not only a solid and effective way to applaud her efforts for 12 Years a Slave, but to make it plain that she’s got a career ahead of her and that she’s one to watch – and that we all want to watch her.

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Oscar 2014


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