Nowhere is the "April Foolish" descriptive more appropriate than in the Supporting Categories. They're generally the last major categories to clear up in each Oscar race since so much rides on the success of a film and/or its leading players. Coattails are often required even if the performance is great all by its lonesome. Witness the sad fate of Vanessa Redgrave's Coriolanus performance in the last race. She was easily the greatest but barely any awards group noticed since reviews for the film were lukewarm and it was barely released at that.
Redgrave might be in play again this year, though, with a warmer title role in Song For Marion. The last time she was in the Oscar race (20 years ago) she was playing a dying woman who worked as a catalyst for the protagonist's emotional journey and the same is probably true here in this film about her husband (Terence Stamp) who joins the church choir to please her. The supporting categories are often home to heartwarmers like that and they're much kinder to senior actors as well so the cast of Quartet (Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins) Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut about retired opera singers, might win kudos too.
If Oscar wants to lean darker -- they love villains in both of the supporting categories -- they might latch on to the sure to be controversial Django Unchained but it's worth noting that Pulp Fiction is the only Quentin Tarantino film that has managed multiple acting nominations. So it's anyone's guess as to who will be named "best in show" this time out but my money is currently on the villain (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his captive (Kerry Washington)
We can't possibly know this early on who the standouts will be in various crowded films but we can guess. Ben Affleck's Argo, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln might be key films to watch for the Supporting Actor category since they all involve dangerous military operations and the cast lists are deep. Les Misérables will undoubtedly be the film that will spark the most early discussion about the Supporting Actress category since Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks and Helena Bonham-Carter will all have key moments they can own.
Oscar has really gone crazy for doubling up in Supporting Actress this past decade. It just keeps happening that two actresses are nominated from the same film. Two more films which might be in play for the ol' twice over are Hyde Park on Hudson (The Olivias, Williams and Colman) and David O. Russell's The Silver Lining Playbook (with previous nominees Jennifer Lawrence and Jacki Weaver)
The April Foolish Predictions...
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
See where they rank: Amy Adams, Redgrave, The Bening, JLaw hot off Hunger Games, Mary Todd "Sally" Lincoln, Nicole Kidman, The Olivias and the Les Mis girls.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
See where they rank: All those men still waiting for a win like Leo, Woody & Joaquin, plus previous winners Lee Jones, Waltz, and many more.
Naturally you'll want to sound off on all the wonderful possibilities. Which performances do you have warm fuzzy hunches about? Which performances do you think I'm overestimating?