Oscar Beat: Best Supporting Actress – Could Jennifer Lawrence Play the Spoiler?

     December 7, 2013


Though there’s normally a fairly agreed-upon shortlist of contenders for each Oscar category before the nominations are announced, every year has its fair share of surprises.  More often than not, these occur in the Supporting Actor/Actress categories, and it could very well happen again this year.  Though the general lack of well-written female characters tends to result in a thin crop of contenders for the Best Supporting Actress category, there are no doubt a number of excellent supporting female performances to thumb through in 2013.  The contenders range from fresh newcomers to acting veterans, and the ever-popular Jennifer Lawrence has made a late surge thanks to David O. Russell’s American Hustle finally being unveiled.

In this edition of Oscar Beat, we examine the current state of the Best Supporting Actress category.  Read on after the jump.


12-years-a-slave-lupita-nyongoLupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Quite possibly the most devastating performance of the year, Lupita Nyong’o’s work in 12 Years a Slave is all the more impressive considering it’s the actress’ first feature film role ever.  She more than holds her own opposite immensely powerful work from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, and she’s been the frontrunner in this category basically ever since the film debuted in September.  The film looks to be in danger of frontrunner fatigue as the critics groups announcements thus far have mostly neglected to recognize the film (though NYFCC named Steve McQueen Best Director), but Nyong’o still seems like a lock to land a Supporting Actress nomination.

Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle 

As one of the last films to screen for critics, many have been wondering for months just how big of an Oscar player David O. Russell’s American Hustle would be.  The film looks to have gone over rather well with the critics groups, but as far as acting nominations go, Jennifer Lawrence is the clear standout.  It’s shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given that Lawrence won the Best Actress trophy just last year (also under the direction of Russell), but the actress gives a spitfire performance in American Hustle that’s equal parts hilarious and sad.  Though Lawrence’s work is certainly noteworthy, it’s her immense likability with voters that just might push her all the way to a win.

Oprah Winfrey Lee Daniels’ The Butler

This early Oscar contender has faded a bit from memory, and while the merits of Lee Daniels’ film have been plenty debated among critics groups, it seems to have gone over well with Academy members.  Oprah Winfrey, for one, has drawn strong marks for her performance in the film, and she seems like a pretty solid bet to land her second Oscar nomination in over two decades.

nebraska-june-squibbJune Squibb Nebraska

Alexander Payne’s Nebraska has been a favorite among critics for a while now, and June Squibb is enjoying near-universal acclaim for her supporting performance opposite Best Actor contender Bruce Dern.  Many pundits have Squibb as a serious threat to win the Best Supporting Actress category, and while the Screen Actors Guild nominations will give us a better idea of how things might shake out, it’s safe to pencil Squibb in for a very likely nomination.

Octavia Spencer Fruitvale Station

Much like The Butler, Fruitvale Station is another film that drew high praise earlier this year but has gotten a bit lost in the shuffle of the crowded fall season.  Octavia Spencer won this category two years ago for her work in The Help, and she turns in another fine (and highly emotional) performance in the Sundance drama.  The last couple of slots in the Best Supporting Actress category are pretty shaky and I’d say Spencer is one of the more vulnerable candidates, but she’s certainly a serious contender for a nomination.

Major Threats 

august-osage-county-julia-roberts-meryl-streepJulia Roberts August: Osage County

Much hubbub was made about which actress was being submitted to which category from the performance-heavy August: Osage County, but Julia Roberts now appears to be going Supporting while Meryl Streep contends in Lead Actress.  Given that August: Osage County is some of Roberts’ best work in years, it wouldn’t be surprising to see her land a fourth Oscar nomination.  That being said, the critical reception to August at its Toronto International Film Festival was fairly mixed, so it remains to be seen how strongly the Academy reacts to the film.

Margo Martindale August: Osage County

Speaking of August: Osage County, one of the film’s best performances comes from veteran character actress Margo Martindale.  It’s no easy task going toe-to-toe with the litany of heavyweights that fill out this ensemble, but Martindale more than holds her own opposite Streep and Roberts.  An Oscar nomination for the Emmy winning actress would not only be well deserved, but also long overdue.

Possible Dark Horse 

Sarah Paulson12 Years a Slave

While the primary antagonist of 12 Years a Slave is Michael Fassbender’s despicable slave owner Edwin Epps, actress Sarah Paulson delivers an exceptionally complicated performance with her limited screentime as Epps’ wife.  While her character’s arc doesn’t give her the chance to display the same type of range as Nyong’O’s Patsey, Paulson’s nuanced work conveys so much about her character’s inner struggles and her complicated relationship with her husband.  12 Years a Slave will likely be landing plenty of Oscar nominations in a number of categories next month, so don’t be surprised to see Paulson pop up in the Best Supporting Actress category.

Sally Hawkins Blue Jasmine

Cate Blanchett’s tour-de-force performance in Blue Jasmine is rightfully being hailed as one of the year’s best performances regardless of category, but Blanchett’s co-star Sally Hawkins also turns in impressive work in Woody Allen’s latest film.  It’s easy to be transfixed by Blanchett’s absolutely stellar performance while watching the pic, but keen eyed voters may warm to Hawkins’ excellent supporting work as well.


  • http://modmyi.com/forums/iphone-4-new-skins-themes-launches/740147-neurotech-hd.html#post5637502 Jay

    The Academy is just far too political. Political activism is their number one consideration when choosing winners, then comes acting ability and all that technical crap they don’t care about.

    The Oscars is just simply a marketing campaign for whatever message they want to bring you.

    Just watch, 12 Years A Slave will win 400 Oscars.

    • jack

      last year was mental health, the year before was what? stuttering?

      • Mixed Race rich kid NYC

        Argo was about mental health ???
        The artist was about stuttering ???

      • jack

        whoops…forgot last year was argo…back track a couple more years….but you’re helping to make my point in that being politically correct isn’t always their main priority

      • Cooper

        Not always, but any time there are pc films and performances halfway decent enough to win without making the Oscars look completely ridiculous.

      • http://modmyi.com/forums/iphone-4-new-skins-themes-launches/740147-neurotech-hd.html#post5637502 Jay

        Every year is “mental health” as far as the Academy is concerned – that’s the whole point ;)

    • Mixed Race rich kid NYC

      Are you saying that 12 years a slave is so good that it might win a lot of oscars but you’re trying to make it seem like a negative thing
      Did you say the same thing about Schindler’s list ?

      • Dede

        I agree. 12YAS is not praised because of sympathy. It’s a d good movie and McQueen is an amazing director.

      • Cooper

        McQueen is a complete hack and would never get all this praise if he wasn’t black.

      • Dede

        Yes…because if someone loves your work it’s because you’re black? Your opinion. I say he has created some of the most iconic images I’ve seen in a while. Stay hurt all you want. My opinion. lol

      • Cooper

        It’s obvious who’s butt-hurt here:)

    • Cooper

      Jay’s absolutely right. 12YAS, Dallas Buyer’s Club, The Butler, and Fruitvale Station will all be nominated in multiple categories and 12YAS will clean up. Also expect at least one actor/actress each from ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ and ‘Mandela’ to get a nod. Guaranteed.

    • Louric Rankine

      But 12 Years a slave had tremendous acting, wonderful production, and beautiful direction. If it was political, American Hustle would win. Your hyperbolic insult towards 12 Years a slave is garbage because it was heartfelt and beautiful and made me cry and have empathy due to me being a descendant of slaves. Oscars should award them for being edgy, and just the best! I felt Argo was political awarded and thought Les Mis and Silver Linings Playbook deserved it better.

      • http://modmyi.com/forums/iphone-4-new-skins-themes-launches/740147-neurotech-hd.html#post5637502 Jay

        I wasn’t insulting the movie, I was insulting the Academy.

        I’m not sure how American Hustle would be construed as political, though. In what way?

      • Louric Rankine

        How is 12 years a slave a political activism film when clearly it pans down politics back in the days for their barbaric decision of having slavery

  • Mixed Race rich kid NYC

    Lupita Nyong’o for the win

  • SomeGuy

    I think Lupita Nyong’o will most certainly win this award. But if not, I think that the only other performances that have a chance would be those of Jennifer Lawrence and June Squibb.

  • JK1193

    Lawrence and Nyong’o will be the two top contenders, especially for two impressive young talents. In terms of more blockbuster work, one of my favorites was, no question, Jena Malone in Catching Fire. Lawrence was exceptional, as always, but Malone was born to play Johanna and stole every scene she was in, which is equally more impressive since she doesn’t have as much screen time and she’s introduced late.

    • Hamish

      I agree that Malone by far had the meatiest role and pulled it off quite well. She’ll likely be nominated for a People’s Choice Award, Teen’s Choice Award, or MTV Movie Award.

      • The Flobbit

        Those awards mean absolutely nothing, and are a scourge, a blight on an actor’s name.

  • bob

    Elizabeth Debicki was great in Gatsby

  • Julio Navas

    What about Sarah Paulson in Mud? I think she was terrific in that one.

    • Josh Kaye

      I think a lot of people have forgotten about Mud at this point which is really unfortunate as it was a damn good movie.

  • Leo Spaceman

    Octavia Spencer is quite impressive. I only ever saw her in that show on Comedy Central where felons all lived in a half way house, she played stereotypical fat black lady. To see her a with one oscar (The Help) and vying for another is completely unexpected when looking at where she was. I wish her luck.

    That said, Oprah Winfrey feels like BullS**t. I haven’t seen The Butler and don’t have a particular desire to see it but I can’t shake the feeling that there is a lot of politics going on behind the scenes.

    • Hamish

      Oprah did a serviceable job, but nowhere near the level of others on the list. If anything, her name recognition alone might be what gets her a nomination.

      • Dede

        Oprah was adequate. She was nothing special in The Butler. Octavia Spencer and Sarah Paulson need some shine.

  • Cooper

    Anyone who thinks there is even a competition here is in complete denial about the pc nature of the Oscars. Nyong’o will win for best supporting actress. Jared Leto will win in the male category. Octavia Spencer and Oprah Winfrey will also be nominated as will Idris Elba for playing Mandela. Stop kidding yourselves.

    • Strong Enough

      no nom for idris. that film has no steam left

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