If anyone can threaten the widely held assumption that Anne Hathaway will win the Supporting Actress Oscar come February for dreaming that dream in time gone by in Les Misérables, isn't it Amy Adams in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master? In the heat of August, Anne seems to have this thing sewn up. But August is August. It ain't February.
Actress Wars 2012: Anne vs. Amy
Though we haven't seen either performance yet, it's worth noting that Oscar wars are rarely won by a stand alone acting achievement. They can be, sure, but more often than not they're fought with a fluctuating combo of deft campaign tricks, strong timing, media drum beatings, general feelings for the film that houses said performance, barely acknowledged collective memories of past triumphs and defeats, preconceived notions of what the actors in questions are capable of, and other films -- particularly brand new ones or "snubbed" but beloved efforts -- that contribute to or detract from the "It's Her/His Time" argument.
So, let's discuss ANNE & AMY (&, yes, STREEP) with a fancy battle chart...
|History||1 nomination that was wholly deserved and arguably should've won..||3 nominations, 2 of which were wholly earned and 1 of which felt, shall we say, generous.|
|Musical?||Oscar & Kennedy Center show-off, Judy Garland biopic dreams, Les Miz||Enchanted, plus "Into the Woods" in Central Park right now|
|Extra Boost||The Dark Knight Rises||Trouble With the Curve|
|Home State||New York||Colorado|
|Age||29 (Oscar's actressy sweet spot!)||38 this month (which means supporting is the best hope for an actual win now. *sigh*)|
|Range||Genre-hops with ease though star persona (the charm offensive, 'let's put on a show!') rarely waivers.||Sweet funny naivete are the bread and butter (Junebug, Doubt, Enchanted) but lately some stretching is happening (The Fighter)|
|Bait||Prostitution, Maternal Grief, Death Scene, Poverty Porn, Huge Key Monologue||Supportive Wife, Other Hooks unknown at this writing|
|Box Office||Past history of musical epics suggests anywhere from $50 to $150 million||Past history of P.T. Anderson masterpieces suggests anywhere from $25 to $50 million|
|Lack of Divisiveness||LOL||Hugs!|
|Oscar Love for Co-Stars||Jackman, Crowe, Seyfried, Bale, Hardy||Hoffman, Phoenix, Dern, Eastwood, Timberlake|
|Auteur Pull||Hooper & Nolan||Anderson & Lorenz (who will be easily mistaken for Eastwood)|
Sound off on this Battle Chart... Which category did I miss? Who wins best range? Where did I go wrong?
SUPPORTING ACTRESS CHARTS
Right now I'd bank on this race being Hathaway's to lose with Adams being her distant but foremost competitor. It's worth nothing that the rest of the field can also affect the leaders. Right now I'm predicting Helen Hunt (The Sessions is Oscar buzzing) who will probably be campaigning in Supporting, Viola Davis (Won't Back Down) via Oscar afterglow and apologia, and Olivia Williams (Hyde Park on Hudson) who seems to be at the peak of her gift these days.
LEAD ACTRESS CHARTS
In an unusual reversal from previous summertimes, when the supporting races are impossible to read and the lead battles are already somewhat summarizable, who can tell what the hell is going on with Best Actress at this point? If you click around the web, there are surely some sites who are predicting something or other in utter confidence but if so they're delusional. It's entirely up in the air. At this writing at least.
Nobody who has already shown themselves (Katniss, Hushpuppy, Judi Dench as Judi Dench in India!) is an obvious slam dunk and nobody yet to come feels "lock'ish" in any non-hyperbolic understanding of the word. This is not to say that it's a weak year. Let's not jump on that cliché. This is merely to say that there's not a single leading actress who should give up hope yet.
As for Meryl Streep, currently enjoying her usual "All the Oscars Belong To Her" critical reception for Hope Springs, the case is either very complicated or not complicated at all. She'll surely be gracing red carpets again if the movie is deemed a "comedy" by the Golden Globes and we already know she'll be at the Oscars to hand out Best Actor (how weird would it be if she handed a THIRD Oscar out -- oh hei Daniel! your chart gets updated soon, too -- after winning one?) but as for her own prospects...
My guess is that the double whammy of "enough already!" feeling, which she herself pointedly underlined in her Oscar speech ("Her!? Again???") combined with the Academy's largely unremarked upon habit of ignoring her when she plays "normal" women unencumbered by important lives / altered vocals (The Hours, Falling in Love, River Wild, Defending Your Life) will leave her on the outside looking in. I'm sure the Great Lady won't mind with August: Osage County right around the corner and a valid shot at tying Kate Hepburn's trophy pull. In fact, she'd be more likely to have a shot at that seemingly insurmountable record if they took a wee break from her.
But, yes, if the nominations were held right now at this very moment, Streep would have an easy in. And you'd see her competing with Quvenzhané Wallis, Jennifer Lawrence, Judi Dench and...um... Kate Beckinsale's Angry Hair.