Thursday, January 8, 2015

Predictions for the Oscars' Potential Best Supporting Actress Category

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
With the Oscar nominations only one week away, now seems like a good time to take into account the various categories and share personal thoughts on what stands a chance and what will likely not make the cut. The following is a rundown of the performers who I feel will most likely make it to the final five in the Best Supporting Actress race and who may be considered a potential threat for the category. Let me state that this isn't a prediction of who will win, simply who will get the nomination.

" * " indicates have not seen.
Front Runners
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood

After initial worry that director Richard Linklater's epic spanning 12 years would be ignored during awards season, the film has come out like a tidal wave with only Birdman in its wake. One of the predominant forces in the films is Patricia Arquette, who plays the mother of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and serves quite a thankless role. Even then, serving as Mason's predominant parent figure means that she has quite a sympathetic role that comes to fruition in the third act with an emotionally wrenching moment. Her status as a front runner is very much deserved, as she is one of the secret ingredients to the film's success.

Emma Stone - Birdman

I tend to feel very conflicted on my actual feelings on the film. At times, Michael Keaton is possibly too showy and the one take nature is often too distracting. However, Emma Stone definitely deserves whatever acclaim she gets as Keaton's daughter and recovering drug addict. With some acidic wit, she serves as an interesting piece to the puzzle while also breaking away from her less interesting recent acting choices. If there is one reason to see the film, see it for her. She is a delight to be around, as her character ranges from comedic to tragic often in the same breaths.

Carmen Ejogo - Selma

It is one of the riskier predictions, but I do believe that Selma is going to come full force when the Oscar nominations come out. For reasons that I recently stated, the film is timely and thus will be treated as such. While it feels like David Oyelowo is a lock, Ejogo's status has been less definitive. Still, she is the wild card with the strongest potential and a pretty solid performance to boot. There are many intimate moments throughout that work best because of her. She hasn't gotten a lot of attention, even being shut out of the Golden Globes. However, let's not forget that last year Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) was shut out of awards season despite being in a highly acclaimed film only to receive an Oscar nomination. These things have been known to happen.

Likely Entries
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game*

Chalk my lack of confidence in this one to having yet to see it. However, her chances do seem very likely considering that she has received Golden Globe and SAG nominations. She is also a returning performer, having previously been nominated for her performance in Pride & Prejudice. It also helps that The Imitation Game is an overall front runner with co-star Benedict Cumberbatch also seeming like a lock for an acting nomination. Considering that it is also a true story, there's a lot of Oscar bias at play here that can definitely keep it afloat as awards season moves on.

Jessica Chastain - A Most Violent Year*

It is ridiculous how subtly Jessica Chastain is about to suffer from the Amy Adams problem. While a critical darling that has been in a lot of great movies (should have won Best Actress for Zero Dark Thirty), she has always been nominated but never a winner. With representation at the Golden Globes, she also seems like a sure thing, though nowhere close to being the likely winner. Speaking as A Most Violent Year doesn't seem likely to receive too much notice between now and Oscar night, it will be more of a thankful nomination than a guaranteed one. Nonetheless, Chastain is one of those great actresses who unfortunately keeps coming up against tough competition and barely missing out.

Laura Dern - Wild*

All eyes are on Reese Witherspoon in terms of potential Wild recognition. However, let's not forget who we are talking about. While director Jean-Marc Vallee has only directed one other film (Dallas Buyers Club), he managed to lead both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to Oscar wins. While the subject of hiking isn't nearly as interesting, there's a chance that Laura Dern could get some recognition for her performance in the film.

Carrie Coon - Gone Girl

Yes, Rosamund Pike is a lock. However, I do feel like Carrie Coon turned in one of the most overlooked performances of 2014 as Ben Affleck's sardonic sister. While her role was less shocking, she was a confident backbone in a film that explored gender and marital politics in new and shocking ways. She's even better than Affleck in a lot of ways. If nothing else, she is likely to win the best underrated actress among the potential candidates.

Anna Kendrick - Into the Woods*

The Academy loves their musicals. I do honestly believe that Into the Woods is going to be another surprising force when it comes to nominations. However, with Anna Kendrick being a great singer and one of the more popular actresses out there right now, it seems like the perfect time to give her another Oscar nomination. I am unaware if it's a showy role or if she does a great job, but considering that it's a musical, she has potential. At least, I would hope she has more than...

Meryl Streep - Into the Woods*

Kristen Stewart - Still Alice

The film will destroy you. While Julianne Moore is clear and away the best part of the movie, there is a thankless role in reacting to your loved one suffer from Alzheimer's disease. For what it's worth, Kristen Stewart does an excellent job in managing to draw the line between tears and confidence in ways that add to the emotional relevance. More-so than Alec Baldwin (another great yet likely overlooked performance), she is required to convince us of her growing fears and when they inevitably snap, she is the audience's entry point into the moment. Much like a few others on here, she can easily piggyback on the definitive nominations of the lead performers, and in this case I would be all for it.

Personal Favorites Not Likely to Make It
Saoirse Ronan - The Grand Budapest Hotel

I am simply thankful that the film has gotten this far in the awards season. Even then, I wouldn't have bet on Saoirse Ronan even getting recognized because it isn't an Oscar-type role. She is simply charming and brings an eclectic taste to the film that features one of the most impressive and strong casts of the year.

Elisabeth Moss - Listen Up Philip

While the film is a great excuse to watch Jason Schwartzman act like a pompous jerk, Elisabeth Moss has a thankless job in being the girlfriend who has to put up with it. While her role is at times comedic, it serves more as the entryway for the audience and allows for some catharsis antithetical to that of which Philip wants to achieve. It is very much a film by writers for writers and I doubt anyone else will appreciate. Still, if someone has a wicked tongue in the film, it's Moss.

Mia Wasikowska - The Double

Can she get an Oscar nomination already? In 2014 alone, she was in four films varying from mediocre (Maps to the Stars) to great (The Double). She is a unique performer and one that manages to capture her roles with weird confidence that makes her flat out adorable. In director Richard Ayoade's ode to film noir and everything else, she delivers a rather spectacular performance and one that definitely suggests my theory tenfold.

Rose Byrne - Neighbors

Because it is still straight up garbage that Melissa McCarthy got an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids while actual funny women such as Rose Byrne leave empty handed. True, a film with this raunchy of humor isn't likely to stand any chance, but we need to reassess how we approach nominating funny ladies since McCarthy has exploited her shtick in the time since. If nothing else, Byrne has only become more interesting. 

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