Predicting the Oscars: Best Supporting Actress

Well, hello there! It’s Missing Peace, Ms. Anthropy and Dancing Queen here with Day 2 of our guide to the Oscars.

We are handicapping our picks for the winners in the “big” categories: Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Picture.  Yesterday, we brought you the Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Today, we get to look at the Supporting Actress race.

Today’s category: Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Last year’s winner was Mo’Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire. We’re pretty sure that is the shortest name of a winner in combination with the longest movie title, ever! Anyway, she was a force to be reckoned with in a heartbreaking film. While she didn’t need to shave her legs for the part, she probably should have done so for the red carpet. Let’s take a moment to reflect on her odd 2010 Golden Globes red carpet reveal:


But we digress! On to this year’s wide-ranging nominees in a category that engenders a certain scrappiness in its contenders.  Female character actresses sometimes suffer from an also-ran mentality: many of them have never been quite right for lead roles in film (read: not conventionally beautiful), but their talents may far outshine those of the Kidmans and Roberts and Bullocks of the world. Relegated to supporting roles, these talented ladies bring years of pent-up angst and desperation for recognition to Oscar night.  It is not enough to be nominated in this category.  Winning is the only thing that will grant them the blazing spotlight for three glorious minutes.  They are the Jan Bradys of the Oscars, poised at the ready to smother Marsha in her sleep and blame it that dolt, Cindy.

Nominee: Amy Adams for The Fighter

Amy Adams in The Fighter

Advantage: Boy, is this lady versatile! She easily moves from a singing, dancing fairy tale princess to a gritty, “I ain’t scared of you, mother f*ckers” bad*ss chick! In The Fighter, Adams stands by her man, and perhaps more importantly, stands up against the performance turned in by Melissa Leo.  The Academy has had Adams on their radar, even before her stripped-down performance in Doubt erased any doubt that she is nothing more than a modern-day Debbie Reynolds.

Disadvantage:  She maybe this generation’s Meryl Streep but the other performances in this category were bone-chillingly good. It’s not her time.  The Academy expects to see more great work from Adams and will likely wait until she lands a juicy lead role in a classic Oscar-bait film before granting her the statue.

Nominee: Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech

Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech

Advantage: Oh how Hollywood loves a British period piece! The accents! The pretty costumes! Royalty! There is strong momentum behind The King’s Speech but it seems to benefit Colin Firth and the picture itself more than the supporting cast. However, folks seem to love the quirky Ms. Bonham Carter and she is a strong contender. It is nice to see her in something significantly more understated than the maniacally spiteful Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series.

Disadvantage: Is she too quirky for the academy?  Her delicate beauty and fine acting abilities are often overshadowed by her over-the-top antics.  We love her, but are mismatched shoes a dealbreaker?  Also, there may be too many opportunities for her to fall up and/or down the stairs while attempting to accept her award. Actually, that may be an advantage. The Academy likes a wild card and unscripted wackiness. Great fodder for the press for weeks after the Awards.

Nominee: Melissa Leo for The Fighter

Melissa Leo in The Fighter

Advantage: Um, she wins everything. Seriously. She has won the Golden Globe and the Screen Actor’s Guild award for Best Actress for this role. Plus, Hollywood LOVES a physical transformation and she does that here.  Besides, even Sissy Spacek and Holly Hunter specifically asked Oprah to tell Leo how much they love her.  Yes, they were on Oprah for a pre-Oscar show a few weeks back, and yes, Missing Peace (and Dancing Queen) were watching.  We dare anyone to say they could recognize Ms. Leo on the street, dressed in her civvies, based on her performance in The Fighter. However, she took a major risk that can sometimes backfire by taking out “for your consideration” ads herself. Will the voters forgive her for these?

Melissa Leo does her best Krystle Carrington impersonation

Disadvantage: The cheesy self-promotion campaign may have given the voters another opportunity check the box for HBC. If we were Academy voters (fingers, crossed – someday, we will be!), the poolside fur would have been a deal-breaker. We don’t like gauche self-promotion. Get a blog, Melissa Leo!

Nominee: Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit

Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit

Advantage: Hailee Steinfeld is the definition of breakout star in this movie.  Young actresses in the Supporting Actress category tend to ruin the party for their, ahem, more seasoned counterparts. See: Patty Duke, Tatum O’Neal, Anna Paquin. Steinfeld held her own among a cast of veteran male actors in a gritty Western; this bodes well for her. In fact, she’s already been cast as the lead in the new adaptation of the novel Forgotten. Steinfeld might benefit from Academy backlash against Leo and a desire to shake things up for ratings.

Disadvantage: Being so fresh and untested can be a huge disadvantage. Many Academy voters may hold off, thinking Steinfeld has a long career ahead of her. She has been nominated for almost every single award possible for this role and hasn’t won yet. The Oscars are not the likely occasion to break this trend, opting for a wait and see attitude on Steinfeld.

Nominee: Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom

Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom

Advantage: Animal Kingdom centers around the activities of a crime family in Melbourne, Australia, with Ms. Weaver playing the family’s matriarch. The movie made its mark in the US at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010, but has only earned $1 million at the US box office. The movie cleaned up at the 2010 Australian Film Industry Awards where Weaver earned the award for Best Actress.

Disadvantage: Who? Yeah, that’s what we said. We have to imagine that many Academy voters said the same thing, especially given that Weaver has not been in the US promoting Animal Kingdom during the months leading up to the Oscars. The people need face time and she’s off working in the theatre in Australia. Is there theatre in Australia? Other than that white opera house thing-y? We thought it was all outback and beaches and hot volleyball players. People spend time indoors down there? Acting? Huh.

Our pick for Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo. This woman would rip your kid’s gold star off his spelling homework if she knew where you lived. Not that she doesn’t deserve the win – she is a powerhouse performer. But if you are an actress who wants to win an Oscar, you better make darn sure that Melissa Leo didn’t make a movie that year.

Our dark horse contender is Helena Bonham Carter for the upset. Is it wrong that we want to see Melissa Leo’s face when the camera cuts to her tight, fake smile as she watches someone else flounce away with the Oscar and wonders how soon she can break away to call her contractor and cancel the plans for the shrine in the entry hall?

Who do you think will take home the award for her performance in a supporting role? And maybe the better question is who deserves it? Those are two very different questions.

Remember to join us on Sunday, February 27th, for a liveblog of Oscar night, starting with the red carpet arrivals on E! (6 ET/3 PT) and switching over to ABC when the Academy Awards ceremony begins (8 ET/5 PT).

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