Oscar History

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Months of Meryl: THE RIVER WILD

"Great post and comments. Yes, Streep had to navigate the rough waters of being in her 40's! I do think she smashed through the glass ceiling for women since she persevered and then became an even bigger star in her 50's." - Sister Rona

"One of my favourite movies from my teen years - I'm shocked at how long ago this was released. It was Meryl that sold this movie for me and is the reason I saw it. At the time, and I still feel this way, she is the reason to watch and believe this film." -Filmboymichael

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Blonde Bombshells vs. Character Actresses?

I promise that I'm not changing the name of the blog to The Supporting Actress Experience but lately that category is just all I've been able to think about. For this I blame two women who are our soul locked propositions to date. Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) and Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels' The Butler) are fighting it out for the actual statue... at least as of this writing.

I've noticed that many Oscar blogs like to "lock" everything up as early as September but I think that takes all the fun out of it AND I think it's genuinely up in the air this early on. So much can change with the vagaries of public opinion and box office and precursor prizes and red carpet action.

Let's assume that I'm right about L&O (a safe assumption given the reception to the films and the kind of roles they have as well as how well they manage them). That means we have three open slots and it's a free for all...

Aside from a few wild cards of category frauding (Julia Roberts?) or default options (Amy Adams?) or Coen Bros voting block (Carey Mulligan?) out of nowhere "most promising young actor" moods (Kaitlyn Dever in Short Term 12?) I find that the remaining players fit rather neatly into two categories... the sex symbol and the character actor. 


Oscar is less swayed by glamour girls in the supporting category than they are in lead but that doesn't mean their eyes won't be bulging when these women sway and strut in their respective films: Scarlett Johansson has the advantage of a career resurgence that's both populist and artistic and Oscar likes a comic sexpot and a deftly handled curveball from a major star unless Don Jon too hip and "young" for Oscar voters?; Léa Seydoux (blonde gone blue... in more ways than one) has the advantage of one of the year's most talked about films plus being French (Oscar has always been a sucker for French actresses) but will they actually see the film and if they do can they overcome their aversion to nominating foreign language roles in the Supporting categories; Jennifer Lawrence is still shining from Silver Linings Afterglow but if she's overshadowed in any way by Amy Adams in American Hustle that might give them an excuse to move on ('you got yours last year!') and she'll certainly be back in future years so there's no rush unless she just nails her new role... which she might; Cameron Diaz could well capitalize on many many years of big box office (hey it worked for Sandra B in 2009) and a few years of Oscar-misses if The Counselor is a hit since she looks to have its most memorable leopard-spotted role.  


Oscar likes a mix of Famous Stars, True Discoveries, Sex Appeal and Character Acting in Supporting Actress and since the frontrunners take care of the first two categories, the blonde bombshells could well capitalize on the third, that leaves stalwart old fashioned character acting... the kind that makes or breaks crucial scenes in movies and they have a lot of options here, too: Margo Martindale is currently best known for TV roles but a trip to Osage County could make Oscar happen and it's the  'right moment' in her career and 'right moments' means a lot to the Academy; June Squibb is flying under the radar at the moment for Nebraska but if Alexander Payne's faithful fanbase in the Academy really likes the new film it's hardly out of the question; Sally Hawkins was famously passed over for hugely lauded work in Happy-Go-Lucky but her latest character in Blue Jasmine didn't annoy as many people and with Cate Blanchett surely on every ballot there's going to be some coattails traction... but enough to grab on to?; Octavia Spencer, like Jennifer Lawrence in the previous category, is a favorite of the industry at the industry at the moment and lord knows Oscar loves to hug grieving moms onscreen, but the Weinstein Co will need to reheat Fruitvale Station before balloting and their hands are more than full with other pictures; I personally don't see Melissa Leo happening for her shuffling ol' Auntie in Prisoners but some people are gaga for her in it and stranger things have happened; Finally there's Sarah Paulson in 12 Years a Slave and she's freaking chilling in that film. If Oscar wants a little 'His & Hers', they could nominate her with her screen husband Michael Fassbender. I'm more and more of the opinion that this might really happen.

What do you see happening?

the supporting actress Oscar chart


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Reader Comments (45)

Scarlett Johansson is funny and hot as hell in Don Jon, but, having seen the movie at the Berlin Film Festival, Julianne Moore is the real deal in it... and got best-in-show-reviews at Sundance / Berlin. But I doubt she (or either of them) is gonna happen, sadly. The movie is too bold (with too much porn) for Oscar voters.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjonas

Julia (if she's actually campaigned as supporting)

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereduardo

I think that Lea Seydoux and Naomie Harris might actually happen. They got great reviews, Seydoux's film will get a lot of year-end mentions. They will benefit from their movie's high profile and their co-stars being in the much more competitive lead categories.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

The Counselor has had some test screenings, and early word is pretty negative from what I've read. I was never feeling her chances to begin with, but now I really can't see her being nominated.

If Julia Roberts goes supporting, I think she'll either be a threat for the win or she won't be nominated at all. To explain, I think a supporting campaign is risky, because I'm sure a lot of voters will still consider her a lead and therefore not vote for her in the supporting category, so there's a chance a supporting campaign would be fail to even get her a nomination due to the category confusion it would create. However, if she did manage to land a nomination, I see no reason to believe she wouldn't be battling Oprah and Lupita for the win (though she'd still probably lose).

Right now I'm thinking:

Oprah Winfrey
Lupita Nyong'o
June Squibb
Octavia Spencer
Jennifer Lawrence

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

God I'd love to see Sarah Paulson be nominated for an Oscar. I have this unconditional love for her which is grounded in so little (her excellent work in American Horror Story season 2, and her cameo in Serenity), but every time I see her face this love for her washes over me.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Still reeling over Sarah Paulson's loss at the Emmys...and I'm afraid to get my hopes up for her here. But really, she has been consistently doing incredible, selfless work of late (American Horror Story, Martha Marcy, Game Change). She can't win this one...what will it take for her to break through?

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom M

Who could resist Jennifer Lawrence in Charlie's Angels costumes? I am telling you: she is a terrific actress, but she doesn't even have to be that good to get this nomination.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I was very surprised when lots of blogs didn't mention Paulsons great work in marthy marcy may marlene.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

My word does Scarlett ever look like Amanda Seyfried in the photo on the supporting actress page...
And speaking of those pages, I really love the photos you chose for Anne and Jenifer in the supporting and lead actress banners. They nicely reflect the gratitude and attitude (respectively) that made them such Internet lightning rods last year.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

What I would LOVE to see is ScarJo kill it in Her, and get a nomination for her performance as an operating system. Coolest Nomination Ever...

I think it's straight character actresses though, with Squibb the lone acting nominee for Nebraska (Actor is just too crowded for Dern to get a nomination). Winfrey (for the win), Nyongo, Spencer, Martindale and Squibb.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I'm all about Sarah Paulson, too, y'all. (And I haven't even seen Season 2 of AHS!) But Sally Hawkins is who I'm really rooting for-- Cate anchored it, but Sally and Bobby made it watchable. I'm cool on Blue Jasmine on the whole, but if the movie's getting anything beyond Cate's nom, Sally better be along for the ride. (Grr.)

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

Wouldn't it be amazing if Scarlett Johansson got nominated for voicing a role? The only thing that would make it better is if it were Samantha Morton...

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

right now I'm hoping Oprah doesn't happen. backlash !

Luptita Nyong'o , Cameron Diaz , Margo Martindale, Sally Hawkins, and June Squibb are the MOST deserving of this bunch. to me.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Sarah Paulson looked visibly disappointed when she lost the Emmy on Sunday. I can't imagine how distraught she would be if she lost an Oscar.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Yay, love this topic! Here are my guesses at the moment: Jennifer Lawrence, Margo Martindale, Lupita Nyong'o, June Squibb, Oprah Winfrey. Roberts could easily slip in, and I almost wonder if Oprah would fall out - I don't think she's a given. She could win too.

I'm wondering about Nebraska in Director, Actor, here and Screenplay. It feels like a Payne film that will hit the Academy sweet spot. It doesn't sound like a box office success, though, so it could have a hard road to many wins.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

I'm guessing:

Oprah Winfrey
Lupita Nyongo
Julia Roberts
Jennifer Lawrence
Sarah Paulson

But I think Margo Martindale, June Squibb and Octavia Spencer are all right there in the mix.

I don't see Scarlett Johannson or Lea Seydoux happening - too much porn/sex for Oscar's delicate sensibilities (see Michael Fassbender, Shame)

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonny

I haven't had the pleasure of seeing 12 Years a Slave, so I can't comment on Lupita, but can anyone beat Oprah now that Meryl is back in lead? I mean, the combination of Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein on the same campaign seems pretty daunting to overcome. (She's also worthy.)

Julia Roberts going lead is just plain fraud. 'August: OC' is a 'Kids Are All Right' situation. Roberts is good and her work certainly merits a nomination, but she's simply the Julianne to Streep's Annette. Also, why aren't more people tossing about Julianne Nicholson for 'August'? She's really good and could give Martindale a run for her money.

And yes to Sally Hawkins!

I'd guess: Hawkins, Martindale, Nyogn'o, Oprah, Spencer

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

Currently predicting Nyong'o, Winfrey, Lawrence, Martindale/Squibb (one or the other. Feels weird somehow to have both) and *WILD CARD*. I suspect there's still something that will sneak in under the rug, be it one of the "Wolf of Wall Street" girls or possibly Lea Seydoux. She could have quite a strong awards season narrative, coming off a tough production and rough post-Cannes fallout. The 'Blue is the Warmest Color' controversy has swelled to an unfortunate degree that I'm reluctant to comment on (yet), but it could end up giving the film's candidates an unexpected underdog status. I feel horrible translating it into cold political statistics, but that's what could happen.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan Houst

Pat: Personally, no. Moore was easily the co-lead. I'd say Roberts won't wind up a nominee (the reception is a lot weaker than Thelma and Louise or The Kids Are All Right), but that's just my general distaste for fraud showing through (especially when either 1. I don't think they've produced anything close to win worthy work yet or 2. They've already won, which Roberts has.)

My bets:


1. Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler
2. Lupita Nyong'o, Twelve Years a Slave


3. Sarah Paulson, Twelve Years a Slave

Five people competing for the last two:

4. ScarJo, Don Jon/Her (Depends on whether critics want to finally question why they've been so out of touch as to NEVER give end of year critics prizes to voice only performances and try to bang that gong so hard that the Academy has to listen. If they do, ScarJo gets in for Her. If they don't, she gets in for Don Jon as a symbolic honouring of both that AND her work in Her.)
5. Melanie Theirry, The Zero Theorem (remember Kim Greist? No? Well, somehow I'm thinking this just might be that good a performance. Is the buzz on the film and performance actually terrible or is it "major return to form" for Gilliam?)
6. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
7. Margot Martindale, August: Osage County
8. Lea Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Colour

Two bubbling under those (right now):

9. Rosamund Pike, The World's End (Warm, sympathetic, human and funny. I can see the #1 votes more than some others you're betting on.)
10. Shirley MacLaine, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (I can't believe you've taken her off consideration. The mom in the Walter Mitty story is a strong archetype to attach actorial twists to.)
11. Kaitlyn Dever, Short Term 12 (If it's really that good and enough actors flock to it, especially if it manages an official DVD release before voting goes out, I'd think she could get some #1 votes. Maybe not enough for a nominee, but some.)


Octavia Spencer (Weak box office, black supporting actress winners don't really come back.)
Diaz (If the reports are really that bad, do they want a great performance in a bad film in their ranks. Sad she didn't get a nod for Malkovich, but what'cha gonna do?)
Hawkins (The movie is supposedly swallowed by Blanchett, which makes me doubt #1 votes coming her way.)
Squibb (Very old complete unknown with an unstarry role in a film that has no idea how to sell itself. Next!)
Amy Adams (1. To those who say she isn't going to win, I point you to Big Eyes. 2. I'm somehow thinking if someone from Her is getting any supporting actress heat at all, it's going to be critics suddenly screaming out for a V/O performance to finally be on an Oscar ballot and ScarJo will get in for that instead.)

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Didn't change it to three instead of two. Whoops. Point is, those last choices are the ones who I think would actually wind up bubbling under in terms of #1 votes. And then the one's I'm personally sceptical on.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Didn't change it to three instead of two. Whoops. Point is, those last choices are the ones who I think would actually wind up bubbling under in terms of #1 votes. And then the one's I'm personally sceptical on.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Winfrey and Lupita are definite locks at this point and considering how big the reception was for 12 Years a Slave I could certainly make a case for Paulson. I have loved her in everything she has done. Her part in Notorious Bettie Page was small but good. I could still see Diaz being a threat same with Squibb.In Diaz's case nominees from bad movies have happened before. I would love to see Kaitlyn Dever make it in as her performance was the type you dont get from teen actors.Seydoux is a dark horse but I cant really imagine the really older members of the Academy going for the film.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEli

I don't know if I'm completely sold on Lupita Nyong'o being the definite LOCK everyone thinks she is. I'd love to see it happen, but I feel like the complete unknowns can never be set in stone this far in advance, right?

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Winfrey and Lupita are definite locks at this point and considering how big the reception was for 12 Years a Slave I could certainly make a case for Paulson. I have loved her in everything she has done. Her part in Notorious Bettie Page was small but good. I could still see Diaz being a threat same with Squibb.In Diaz's case nominees from bad movies have happened before. I would love to see Kaitlyn Dever make it in as her performance was the type you dont get from teen actors.Seydoux is a dark horse but I cant really imagine the really older members of the Academy going for the film.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEli

oops posted twice

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEli

If they want to reward Blue and if Steven Spielberg campaigns behind the scenes, I could totally see Lea going all the way. She's got it all going on and is very charming. She needs to hire Marion Cotillard's publicist.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Nyong'o, Paulson, Winfrey, Martindale and Spencer.

But I love the idea of Rosamund Pike getting some well-deserved consideration.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Volvagia & Sawyer -- the only people ever screaming for a V/O nomination are young people on the internet, though. I have always found this to be a fascinating obsession of people younger than myself. I wonder if it's tied to the rise of the animated film as the most reliable of box office blockbusters? but i personally can't imagine actors ever going for it because even they are kind of dismissive of their own vocal performances like "Easy money!"

i'd imagine a motion capture performance (that's both voice, body, and facial expressions if not the actual actor onscreen) would happen before vocal work only... and even that is a long way from happening.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

I don't see the the nom for Oprah .. Is it because she is Oprah?

Compared to many others in this category, she did very little in the movie except drink, smoke and look off into the distance!!

I really hope she is passed over for some reeally deserving performances...

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Well said Nat.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

Oprah earned a previous nomination prior to conquering the world. A second nomination for a job well done in a movie that made money where she was well received is completely justified.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Cameron Diaz will probably win if she's nominated. her role is amazing. it's something actresses would really admire and would vote for. (and she's friends with many Academy members)

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

I've heard really strong advance praise for Cameron Diaz's role in The Counselor...I wouldn't count her out yet.

I don't mean to sound negative but I have a VERY hard time believing that the Academy is going to nominate five character actresses--Diaz, Lawrence, Johansson, etc., could definitely strike if their performances are good.

Nebraska could potentially nab a pic/director nomination and Bruce Dern is certainly in the running but I have a hard time seeing Squibb, although I could be majorly wrong. The film's reception has been good, but not nearly as positive as The Descendants.

And are we sure about Octavia Spencer? Buzz will come around again once the film is released on Blu-ray/DVD but I think Fruitvale Station gets recognition in screenplay and not the acting categories...

Nyong'o, Winfrey, Paulson, Lawrence, and Diaz are my predictions right now with Martindale, Squibb, Hawkins, Spencer, Johansson, and Seydoux waiting in the wings.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Diaz has had some really strong performances in the past (Vanilla Sky, even My Best Friend's Wedding) and been overlooked by the Academy. It's hard to believe she'll be nominated for the first time for a bad movie.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Suzanne: And that's why I'm sceptical on Diaz and why I see Melanie Thierry (sorry I misspelled her name) as FAR more likely right now to be on the final nominee list.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

So THE COUNSELOR is officially a bad movie yet it hasn't even opened yet? Who's seen it? What critics have weighed in? What's its metascore, its tomatometer?

Frankly, some of you guys should read yourselves.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGustavo

I'm loving how tough this category is becoming to read...

This looks like 2008 all over again.

We have a lead role testing the waters in the supporting field (and like Winslet, I don't think Julia will pull it off here), we have character actors from Woody Allen (Hawkins deserves a nom but she does not possess the usual fire/bitchiness the supporting nominees from Woody movies are used to having, plus the movie is all Blanchett all the time and if 2008 taught us something is that even in a weak lead actress year, the Globe winner for Comedy wasn't considered for the nom), we have a brilliant character actor performance from a relative unknown (like Viola Davis, Lupita Nyongo) - plus a double nominee that can come from the same film, a relatively quieter (in terms of buzz) performance (Amy Adams then - now Sarah Paulson), the BIG performance that is not quite the achievement people label it to be but got the nom probably from being in one of the Oscar frontrunners (then Taraji; that can apply to Oprah or Jennifer Lawrence) and finally the 'indie darling/solid performer getting great reviews' nominee slot (then Tomei, now Octavia Spencer, Melissa Leo, Carey Mulligan, Margo Martindale).

Because of all these paralels (yes I know I'm jumping the shark here on some of them but still) I predict the following nominees:

Oprah / Jennifer Lawrence / Lupita Nyongo (win) / Sarah Paulson / Carey Mulligan (I'm betting on Inside Llewyn Davis being more adored that critics and pundits are giving it credit for) or Octavia Spencer (if she latches on to her early buzz)

P.S. - And people, if Shailene Woodley didn't get in for The Descendants (being the combo of PYT + newcomer + good performance + Oscar frontrunner + great reviews for the movie + big career ahead + weak weak weak category) then June Squibb probably doesn't have a chance.

P.S. #2 - Looks like Paramount and Scorsese are thinking about 2014 for Wolf of Wall Street. Hmm.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJay

P.S. #3 - I'm starting to think THE BOOK THIEF may get a Extremely Loud-type of reception and get nominations for both Geoffrey Rush (supporting) and Sophie Nelisse (category fraud; Supporting actress).

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJay

Gustavo, for real? The word on the film is not good, and Fox is not doing anything to counteract the film's poor pre-release image, either by launching an Oscar campaign or screening it at festivals or for critics.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

If you look at history, there are 34 films (in 33 years - 1949 had 2) with multiple nominations in this category's 77 years. That's remarkably good odds (Almost 50/50) that the same may happen this year. It's also worth noting that 4 films (Doubt, Up in the Air, The Fighter and The Help) in the last 5 years have achieved the same feat. Just worth thinking about...
My money's on 12 Years a Slave (Nyong'o and Paulson)

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTim

*oops, sorry. The earlier comment should have read 'Julia Roberts going SUPPORTING is fraud.'
My bad. It is definitely a lead role. (Proof that I should keep my mouth shut more often.)

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat

I wouldn't underestimate Angela Bassett in Black Nativity. Bassett is an actress of great power, well respected and well liked.

Black Nativity seems to be a 3 generations story that could pull in 3 generations of audiences.

The lead, Jacob Latimore is an appealing teen who sings and dances. The movie is rated PG, so it might get a teenage crowd for its misunderstood hero.

The hero's mother Jennifer Hudson is struggling economically, which is relatable (and she sings beautifully).

The grandparents Angela Bassett and Forrest Whittaker are loving individuals played by top notch actors. I could see tandem supporting noms for both.

What I would really love as an "awards season narrative" is a push for Kasi Lemmons as Best Director for Black Nativity. It's very difficult to direct a good musical and a test of a director's skill. Lemmons would be the first African American woman nominated for best director, if that happened, if the movie turns out to be really good.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradri

Now I'm hardcore rooting for Sarah Paulson. Especially after Ellen Burstyn stole her Emmy.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

1) Oprah
2) Lupita
3) Octavia

then you got Julia (but she's a co-lead, I wish her place could be filled by Martindale), then Squibb or Lawrence


September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

It's too early and I haven't seen most of the films being discussed but I think some are overestimating Octavia Spencer. Fruitvale didn't really take off and by the end of the year more recent films will getting the buzz and it will be left off the awards lists in my opinion.

I think Oprah will be there but I not sure I would go as far to say she is a lock. There may be some backlash and it wouldn't be the biggest surprise to me if she was snubbed.

I haven't seen the film but I think Martindale gets there. Just in the right place at the right time.

September 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEddie

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