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.
BATTLE OF THE BLONDE BOMBSHELLS
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.
TOURNAMENT OF THE CHARACTER ACTORS
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?