Anne Hathaway with Haircut (Photo : Universal Studios)
Though the Oscar Nominations are two weeks away, there are a few categories that are still up in the air. Usually, awards precursors give prognosticators a strong idea of which films or actors will receive nominations for their respective categories but some categories, such as the Best Supporting Actress race, are so full of contenders that limiting them to just five is nearly impossible. Here is a breakdown of the supporting actress race up to this moment.
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Actresses Locked for a Nomination
This race has three actresses that will undoubtedly receive a nomination on January 10. Anne Hathaway leads the race for best supporting actress with a nomination by virtually every critics circle and has won the majority of them as well. Her work as Fantine in "Les Miserables" has been lauded by critics for its intensity and heart-wrenching quality and has won whopping 14 Best Supporting Actress awards. No one else in the entire Oscar race has won that many awards in 2012 for any category and most believe that Hathaway will inevitably win the race. She is also nominated for at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and SAG Awards. She was nominated for the Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar in 2009 for her work in "Rachel Getting Married."
The second lock for this group is Sally Field for her performance in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." She has been lauded for providing a dramatic counterpoint to Daniel Day-Lewis' reserved portrayal for the iconic president. She has won five precursor awards for best supporting actress including wins at the New York Film Critics and Boston Film Critics. She received Golden Globe, SAG , and Critics Choice Award nominations. Field has won two Oscars (her only nominations). In 1980, she won the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for her performance in "Norma Rae" and five years later she took the same prize home for her turn in "Places in the Heart."
The final lock for the category is Helen Hunt for her performance as a sex surrogate in "The Sessions." She has won two precursor awards for Best Supporting actress from the San Francisco Film Critics and St. Louis Film Critics. She has also received nomination from the big three organizations (the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards, and the SAG Awards) and has been widely touted as a contender since September. Hunt has won one Oscar for her only nomination back in 1998 for her role in "As Good As it Gets."
Major Contenders for Final Two Spots
Three actresses are essentially contending for the final two spots, though there a few actresses that could potentially pull a surprise nomination.
Amy Adams' turn in "The Master" should be a lock for the fourth spot as she has won three precursor awards from such major organizations as the Hollywood Film Awards and the Los Angeles Film Critics. However, she was omitted from one of the big three nomination categories: the Screen Actors Guild Awards. SAG is made up mainly of a large contingent of Academy voters and the fact that they overlooked Adams casts some doubt over her chances at an Oscar nomination. SAG also ignored "The Master's" lead actor Joaquin Phoenix, but their nomination of Phillip Seymour Hoffman for Best Supporting Actor indicates that the film was not completely ignored; it means that SAG was not all that impressed with Adams' turn. She did receive Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations, which supports her Oscar bid. Adams has been nominated for three Oscars in her career. In 2006, she earned her first nomination for her supporting role in "Junebug." She obtained another supporting actress nomination in 2009 for "Doubt" and in 2011, she earned her third supporting actress nomination for "The Fighter."
Nicole Kidman was never considered a part of the race until she got nominated for the SAG a few weeks ago. She was one of two surprise picks because she had not been mentioned in the awards race up to that point. Her turn in "The Paperboy" then garnered a Golden Globe nomination, which has essentially made her a top contender for the last two spots in the category. She has not won a single Supporting Actress precursor award, but her Oscar history is rich. She was nominated in 2002 for her performance in "Moulin Rouge" and in 2003 won the Best Lead Actress for her turn in "The Hours." In 2011, her performance in "Rabbit Hole" earned her a nomination.
Maggie Smith's performance in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" was nominated for SAG and was the second surprise. Up to that point, Smith was not seen as a major contender for the final two spots, but the fact that SAG picked her was a major boost for her chances. She has not won any precursors and was omitted from the list of nominees for the Golden Globes and Critics Choice, but the SAG is enough to make her a major contender. The Academy has the tendency to make an unexpected choice in most categories come nomination day and Smith has the greatest potential to be that surprising pick. She has been nominated six times for the Oscar and won twice. In 1970, her performance for "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" won her the lead actress Oscar, while her turn in "California Suite" won her the supporting actress award in 1979. She could be a sentimental pick for voters.
A few actresses have received some notice in the Oscar race thus far and could potentially receive surprise nominations. Ann Dowd began generating buzz after winning the award from the prestigious National Board of Review and the St. Louis Film Critics. Her win prompted her to self-finance her own Oscar campaign for her performance in "Compliance" and it is possible that the media buzz could potentially help her earn a surprising nomination. She was given a nomination at the Critics Choice awards, which could propel her status in the race. However, the film was not widely viewed and her performance could be easily overlooked.
Emma Watson's performance in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" was honored by the San Diego Film Critics, who gave her the best supporting actress award. The film has little Oscar buzz, but her win could potentially create some surprises down the line. Judi Dench's nomination with the Critics Choice for her performance in "Skyfall" could also give her a slight push.
Predictions: The two final spots will go to Amy Adams and Nicole Kidman. "The Master" has picked up steam since the SAG and Golden Globe nominations and Adams has been Academy favorite for the last few years. Kidman's performance is being aggressively campaigned by MIllenium Entertainment and her nominations at the Globes and SAG almost assure she has a leg up on the rest of the competition.