The categories of Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress are a little harder to predict than their leading counterparts. Films with large impressive casts make it difficult to say who will stand out from the crowd until the films are actually seen. There are still some HUGE films with multiple possibilities for supporting nominations that no one has seen yet. Les Miserables, Django Unchained, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, The Promised Land, even possibly The Hobbit (you never know). Bearing that in mind, set aside a grain or two of salt, and consider...
Best Supporting Actress
It would seem that at least a couple of these slots have already been claimed but it's still very early. There are still a host of possibilities. As always, previous rankings are listed in parenthesis.
1.(1) Amy Adams - The Master
2.(2) Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
3.(3) Sally Field - Lincoln
4. Helen Hunt - The Sessions
5.(8) Kerry Washington - Django Unchained
6.(4) Olivia Williams - Hyde Park On Hudson
7.(7) Vanessa Redgrave - Song For Marion
8.(5) Samantha Barks - Les Miserables
9. Judi Dench - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
10. Maggie Smith - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Leaving the Rankings: Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty, Helena Bonham Carter - Les Miserables, Jessica Chastain - Lawless
I'd lay odds more like this...
1. Amy Adams - The Master...It's hard to argue with the buzz on this one. The picture has premiered to extraordinarily positive reviews that suggest it could be the critics' darling of the year. Ms. Adams may not be getting QUITE the press that her two male co-stars are, but Harvey Weinstein can probably get the AMPAS to make room for a third acting bid. Of course, Ms. Adams is very young, and already has three nominations under her belt. Some might think that she's had her due for now. On the other hand, if it begins to becomes about the win, the previous nods might work in her favor.
2. Helen Hunt - The Sessions...This is a little film that could easily be missed, no matter how good it is. I don't think that it will, however, because I think that John Hawkes's universally praised performance stands an excellent chance of recognition. If he gets in, then Ms. Hunt will most likely follow suit. She has one win for one nomination.
3. Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables...No, the film has not debuted but just the footage of her in the first trailer has me believing until proven wrong. It also seems like the right time for her second nomination. Positive response to her role in The Dark Knight Rises earlier in the year can't hurt.
4. Samantha Barks - Les Miserables...Maybe the newcomer out of left field slots will be filled by the duo from "Beasts", but I can't help thinking that this seasoned young stage actress's film debut is going to be one to remember. Eponine is the most tragic character in one of the most tragic musicals of all time and she played the role so well at the Queen's Theatre that she was snatched up for the movie adaptation. Unless this film tanks...
5. Sally Field - Lincon...She has second billing in the film after Daniel Day Lewis and I think that she is the film's second most likely nomination, sight unseen. The Academy likes her...they REALLY like her, and they haven't given the two time nominee and winner a nod in almost thirty years. Hot off her Emmy winning (and thrice nominated) stint on Brothers and Sister, this would make a triumphant return to film for this outstanding actress.
6. Helena Bonham Carter - Les Miserables...I know this is the third actress I have listed from the same film, but she is soooo well suited to play Madame Thenardier, has a showstopping number, and Great Expectations' lackluster reception in Toronto has forced me to abandon my hopes that she gets in for Miss Haversham...*sigh*. She's been nominated twice before, once for collaborating with "Mis" director Tom Hooper.
7. Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty...Her buzz has fallen off a bit, but no one has seen the film yet. I think this one time nominee can spin gold out of shit, frankly. Maybe platinum. She is the great sleeping giant in this category.
8. Maggie Smith - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel...She is the "It" senior citizen of the moment, experiencing the most dramatic "post Potter" career bump. Downtown Abbey has made her hot with the public, and if she fails to make a leading bid for Quartet, this could be an excellent opportunity for the AMPAS to recognize this hugely popular movie as a whole. On the other hand, she DOES already have two Oscars, having been nominated a whopping six times.
9. Kerry Washington - Django Unchained...Everything is so up in the air for Django, at least in my mind. Can the Weinsteins possibly have three MAJOR players in the deck this year? Ms. Washington is extremely talented and has never been nominated, so I'm keeping her in the wings.
10. Jackie Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook...I kind of feel like she was robbed when she didn't win for Animal Kingdom, and I WANT her to blow me away like that again in this film, but most early reviews are failing to single her performance out, so I'm becoming doubtful.
But I also think these ladies still stand a very real shot: Vanessa Redgrave - Song For Marion (never count her out, reliably brilliant), Viola Davis - Won't Back Down (she could end up here, rather than in lead), Frances McDormand - The Promised Land (this film is a huge question mark).
Best Supporting Actor
This one may be even more wide open. The Buzz surrounds...
1.(1) Leonardo DiCaprio - Django Unchained
2. Phillip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
3.(2) Russell Crowe - Les Miserables
4.(5) William H Macy - The Sessions
5.(7) Robert DeNiro - The Silver Linings Playbook
6. Alan Arkin - Argo
7. Dwight Henry - Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. Matthew McConaughey - Magic Mike
9.(6) Bryan Cranston - Argo
10.(8) David Straitharn - Lincoln
There are so many unknown factors in this race, that I just don't know what to think, but my best guesses at present are...
1. Phillip Seymour Hoffman - The Master...He and co-star Phoenix shared the Best Actor prize at Venice, and his performance has been almost unanimously praised by critics. Some category confusion could occur here, but that's about the biggest threat to his nomination. He already has one win and three nods, but I think he's respected enough for that to be inconsequential: he deserves more.
2. Robert DeNiro - The Silver Linings Playbook...He's a legend (2 wins out of 6 nominations) pulling out of a slump (20 years since his last nod). Isn't that enough?
3. Leonardo DiCaprio - Django Unchained...After three nods and numerous snubs, I'm as ready to see him win the Academy Award he should have had for Gilbert Grape as anyone, and this seems enough against type that it could make an impression. I've been burned betting on Leo before, but I never learn.
4. Alan Arkin - Argo...He has one win from three nominations already, but Arkin's performance is the most consistently singled from this film's entire cast and Weinstein is distributing. The film is almost a surefire Picture contender, so I say Arkin is in.
5. William H Macy - The Sessions...This one time nominee's profile has been raised lately by his cable show Shameless, and he's got good press from the festival circuit. If the Academy really embraces the film, he's got an excellent shot.
6. Russell Crowe - Les Miserables...Javert is arguably the second meatiest role in the movie, so the chances for this one time winner and three time nominee may actually be BETTER than I'm giving him credit for.
7. Dwight Henry - Beasts of the Southern Wild...The film's buzz has waned a bit in recent weeks, but expect a resurgence once the critic's awards begin. Whether Mr. Henry can ride this wave to his first nomination remains to be seen.
8. Hal Holbrook - The Promised Land...This late entry into the race is a big question mark, but Mr. Holbrook is pushing 90 and has never won. Heck, he's only been nominated once. Now could be his time.
9. Ezra Miller - Perks of Being a Wallflower...Many (myself included), thought he should have been nominated for We Need To Talk About Kevin last year, and early raves from Toronto suggest that he could stand an excellent shot this year if campaigned. Teen angst flicks rarely produce Oscar glory, but this one is pretty high profile, so who knows.
10. Matthew McConaughey - Magic Mike...As the summer ends, his buzz seems to be fading, even if reviews were strong. He's having a good year, but it may all be set up for his real push NEXT year for Mud.
But there are SO many other real possibilities here: The Lincoln Three (David Straithern, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Jude Law - Anna Karenina, Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained, James Gandolfini - Killing Them Softly (you know Harvey's planning on pushing the film SOMEWHERE), Sacha Baron Cohen - Les Miserables (the casting is perfect), Woody Harrelson - Seven Psychopaths (especially after snubbing Rampart last year), Billy Connelly - Quartet (you know Harvey's pushing the film SOMEWHERE), practically the whole cast of Zero Dark Thirty.
And that's the way it is pulling into Autumn. I'll try and be back tomorrow to cover Best Actor and Best Actress.
Related Posts: Sept Oscar Buzz and Predictions - The Techs: Part One and Part Two, The Genres, and Screenplays; June Oscar Buzz and Predictions - Supporting Contenders, The Dark Knight Rises, Best That The Summer Wields? (Beasts of the Southern Wild review), We Need To Interrupt Miss Bala (We Need To Talk About Kevin review), Pariahs Were Here On the Rampart (Rampart review)