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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Oscar 2015 Prediction: Best Supporting Actress

The most interesting acting race this year is Best Supporting Actress, where I think one of three performers could win, which in this day and age is pretty competitive. The problem is that two of those performances are in the wrong category, which would affect my vote, if I had one.

The race seems to be coming down to two young actresses, and this is the category that by far has the youngest average age for winners. Where other categories seem to demand actors pay their dues, Supporting Actress is where you can step in, win an Oscar, and hardly be heard of again (Mira Sorvino being the obvious example).

I don't think we've heard the last of Alicia Vikander, who I think is the slimmest of favorites. She's the patient wife of Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl, and to the film's credit they make her almost as interesting as he is. She was in several films during the year, and her "it" girl status may take her to the prize, as she did the SAG Award. She is every bit a lead as Redmayne is, though, and should have been in the Best Actress race.

The same can be said for Rooney Mara as the young shopgirl who falls in love with an older woman in Carol. In fact, she has more screen time than Cate Blanchett, who was nominated in Best Actress, but clearly Miramax didn't want them competing with each other. Earlier in the awards season I thought Mara might be the favorite, but given this obvious category fraud and that Mara hasn't won any precursors has cooled my optimism for her.

The other three actresses are truly supporting, led by Jennifer Jason Leigh, as the woman scheduled to hang in The Hateful Eight. Leigh, who has given many intense performances over the years, picked up her first nomination. I think the Academy has never known what to make of her. She gave one of those so-crazy-it-hurts-to-watch performances in Georgia twenty years ago but the Academy, in what seemed like an insult, nominated her co-star, Mare Winningham, instead. Leigh doesn't do much in the first three-quarters of the film except get beat up, but she has a wowser of a finish. If there's a sentimental favorite, it would be her.

My vote, based purely on the acting, is Kate Winslet as Steve Jobs' long-time marketing expert in the film of the same name. The film was criminally overlooked in many categories, but thank goodness Winslet was not forgotten, as her scenes with Michael Fassbender as Jobs were dazzling. As the film is very theatrical in nature, so is Winslet's acting, which makes me long to see her on the stage.

As for Rachel McAdams in Spotlight, well, I'm kind of mystified. She gaves me a perfectly competent performance, but she didn't have the big scene that usually gets you a win. It reminds me of Catherine Keener's nomination for Capote ten years ago--perfectly fine work in a very good film.

Will win: Alicia Vikander
Could win: Rooney Mara
Should win: Kate Winslet
Should have been nominated: Kristen Stewart, The Clouds of Sils Maria

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