Out of all of the major categories at this time in the year the two races that are the most up in the air are Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. The rest of the major categories have stayed largely the same for the last several months with a few films moving up and down the charts, but no shocking newcomers. Every time that I update the Supporting Actor and Actress charts it seems that there are at least 5 or 6 potential nominees that were not even on the radar during the previous update. I expect that trend to continue throughout the season as many high profile films have not even been seen yet.
Best Supporting Actor
The only actor who seems like a definite lock at this point is the great Geoffrey Rush who has received no shortage of raves for his performance as King George VI’s speech therapist in Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech. Rush has proven to be well-respected among the acting branch with three Oscar nominations, one Oscar win, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. With The King’s Speech expected to be a dominant player in the 2011 Oscar race, Rush’s name will not soon be forgotten. The other main frontrunner is Mark Ruffalo for his supporting turn in Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kid’s Are All Right. It is interesting that even though Annette Bening and Julianne Moore have turned in two of the best performances by a male or female this year it may be Ruffalo who gets an Oscar for the film because the ladies are in a crowded category while Ruffalo’s competition is relatively light. This would be Ruffalo’s first Oscar nomination, which many would say is long overdue.
Nobody has seen David O. Russell’s The Fighter yet, but based on the trailer it seems that Christian Bale‘s performance is a meaty, Oscar bait role. He probably won’t have to do much of the heavy lifting, but he could get a nomination due to sheer unusualness and the fact that he’s overdue – the same circumstances that earned Stanley Tucci a nomination last year. The two actors I used to fill out the 4th and 5th spot, Justin Timberlake and Ed Harris, will both be running into the same problem – competing with other actors within their own film. Timberlake definitely earned a lot of attention for playing the misogynistic Sean Parker in The Social Network, but he may be overshadowed by Andrew Garfield or Armie Hammer. Ed Harris is a legend and was highly praised for his performance in The Way Back, but Colin Farrell has also earned a lot of attention for what has been described by In Contention‘s Kris Tapley as a showier role than Harris’.
AT A DISTANCE
The hopes are high for the Coen Brothers’ remake of True Grit and Josh Brolin could earn his second supporting actor nomination in three years. There is also the chance that Sam Rockwell could be campaigned as a supporting actor for his performance in Tony Goldwyn’s Conviction in which case his Oscar chances improve significantly. We also have outliers that include Bill Murray, who likely is too overshadowed by Robert Duvall in Get Low to receive a nomination, and Jeremy Renner who was the best part of The Town, a movie whose Oscar chances will be debated right up until the morning of nominations. Then there are the indie favorites John Hawkes of Winter’s Bone and Dustin Hoffman of Barney’s Version. They’ll probably get noticed by the New York or Los Angeles Film Critics Awards, but probably not the Oscars.
Best Supporting Actress
Helena Bonham-Carter may not end up the winner for her role in Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech, but she definitely seems like a lock for a nomination. When people see her outside of the dark, typecast roles in which Tim Burton frequently casts her there is likely to be a collective murmur of enthusiasm among the Academy members. She has had very little critical and Awards success when working for her husband, but when she strays from type, she does remarkably well as noticed by her first Oscar nomination in The Wings of the Dove or her standout role in Fight Club. Dianne Wiest has the benefit of starring in Rabbit Hole, which is an actor’s film from top to bottom and which has been garnering a steady stream of support from critics and other actors. She will almost assuredly receive a SAG nomination, which could result in an Oscar push. Miranda Richardson has also popped up as a strong contender in this category according to the Gurus O’ Gold with several pundits putting her at number one for her turn in Made in Dagenham.
I think that Jacki Weaver will get a nice push from the online community that seems to be over the moon with praise for her performance in Animal Kingdom. A few critics awards should give her the push necessary to secure at least a nomination. Stressing once again that no one has seen The Fighter, that hasn’t prevented any one from gladly putting Melissa Leo on their Oscar charts. She will get a push from mild praise in Conviction and has gained a new respect after her recent surprise nomination for Frozen River. Hailee Steinfeld could be this year’s child nominee for her performance in True Grit, however, it seems like her screen time might be more than the average for this category and she may get bumped up into lead. She will also face competition from Saoirse Ronan who will be getting gritty for The Way Back. Two under-18 year old nominees is unlikely so it could come down to a teenage face-off.
AT A DISTANCE
Put the entire cast of Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls on a dartboard and toss away and you may find a future nominee for this category. So much inner film competition may hurt the movie’s chances, but if there are one or two stand outs then the conversation may shift. I have Kimberly Elise and Janet Jackson highest on my charts, but I’ll be first to admit that I know not a thing. We could also see Sissy Spacek sneaking in for her performance in Get Low, although the overall buzz for that film has slowed dramatically with the coming of the Fall film season.
What do you think of this race? Too tough to call? Are frontrunners emerging?