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Longlists to Nominees: Supporting Actress

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Now we get into the acting categories. And this is a pretty good year for this category. There are some actual options here. Let’s jump right in.

  • Amy Adams (Her)
  • Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12)
  • Scarlett Johansson (Her)
  • Rachel McAdams (To the Wonder)
  • Carey Mulligan (Inside Llewyn Davis)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
  • Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
  • Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color)
  • Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station)
  • June Squibb (Nebraska)
  • Zhao Tao (A Touch of Sin)
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones (Side Effects)

12 picks (“12” is a motif this year, isn’t it?), and only 5 slots. Where to start?

First off–Kaitlyn Dever and Lupita Nyong’o are on. I think we can all agree with that (if you’ve seen Short Term 12, you’ll know what I mean).

And, as a guide, let’s see what my previous lists said. Initial list: Dever, Johansson, Nyong’o, Spencer, Zeta-Jones.

Intermediate list: Adams, Dever, Nyong’o, Spencer, Zeta-Jones.

While that makes it look like this category is 80% sewn up…it’s not. Let’s go to the longlist.

  • Amy Adams (Her)

Make no mistake, this nomination is definitely in part a recognition of the year she’s had (this plus American Hustle and Man of Steel). And of her three performances this year, this is the one I liked best. I wouldn’t give her the win, but the nomination…it’s very tempting.

  • Scarlett Johansson (Her)

I went in expecting this to be a guaranteed nomination. Maybe it was the hype (though I loved the film), but I didn’t really see enough here to justify nominating a voice-only performance. Johansson does a fine job, but…my natural hesitancy to nominate the performance is not compensated for by my opinion of it. Maybe I need to see the film again–how could it be as successful as it is without her work being worthy? How could I nominate Joaquin Phoenix and not her, and not seem a chauvinist? All I know is, based on my viewing of the film, I am not motivated to nominate her. And so we must progress.

(I couldn’t find a clip.)

  • Rachel McAdams (To the Wonder)

I can’t nominate her, because she’s just not in the film enough, but she’s really good when she’s on. As an old flame of Affleck’s whom he reconnects with, she gives us, with little dialogue and not much time, a strong sense of a woman caught up in a difficult situation, and when she left the film (she’s in it for maybe 20 minutes), I really missed her. A little more screentime and I’d nominate her for sure, but here, I don’t think I can do it.

(Also couldn’t find a clip. What the fuck?)

  • Carey Mulligan (Inside Llewyn Davis)

This movie again. To be fair, Mulligan is really good in it–she’s easily the most sympathetic character, and Jean’s abrasiveness is totally justified by Llewyn’s self-centered thoughtlessness. It’s certainly a performance I could understand someone nominating. Whether I do or not…remains to be seen. If I nominate this film anywhere, it would be here. (I remember this time last year I hoped I could nominate her for The Great Gatsby. And look how that turned out.)

  • Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)

For I long time, I assumed I hated Julia Roberts (mostly because my mom hates her), but on seeing this film, and rewatching this clip…she does a hell of a job here. I totally get why the Academy nominated her. I might just do so, too. Didn’t think I would, but I saw this film fairly last-minute.

(It’s not so much that I couldn’t find a scene, as I couldn’t find a particularly good one.)

  • Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color)

I’m not sure how I feel about this performance. Is it a truly excellent performance, or is it a good performance that looks better because the film around it isn’t very good? She is good, make no mistake, far better than her co-star–so much that your sympathy (or at least mine) goes almost totally to Emma. Seydoux is full of life and charm here, and had I liked the film, I would strongly consider her for a nomination. But as it is, I’ve got better choices. Last year, she would get on. This year, it’s not happening.

  • Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station)

A relatively small-scale performance (the film itself is maybe 80 minutes sans credits, and this is a supporting role), but she makes a fine, restrained impression. I’d argue it tops her work in The Help (though I don’t remember that film especially well). She made both of my lists, and while, like Amy Adams, she wouldn’t win, she might just be good for the nomination.

  • June Squibb (Nebraska)

It’s a fun, lively performance. And she keeps it grounded, too–you really do believe that she and Bruce Dern are an old couple. But would I nominate it? I don’t know. I’m not sure there’s quite enough there.  Glad the Academy recognized her, though.

  • Zhao Tao (A Touch of Sin)

Great, great film. And a strong performance. The script is kind of the star here, though. It’s a runner-up, but she wouldn’t make the final five. It’s going to be tough as it is.

  • Catherine Zeta-Jones (Side Effects)

(NOTE: The clip I used is something of a spoiler for the film. So if you haven’t seen it yet, consider yourself warned.)

When I saw this film (almost exactly a year ago, as it happens), I immediately put her on my list and sort of left her there. She’s the early-in-the-year nominee who doesn’t get bumped because you assume it’s still one of the year’s best performances. But, honestly, much as I like the film, I don’t think it’s an award-worthy performance. It’s a good manipulative-villain performance, probably the best work she’s done in years, but I don’t know if a nomination is really warranted, given what else is on the table.

I didn’t put Margot Robbie from Wolf of Wall Street or Selena Gomez from Getaway Spring Breakers on here. Neither was likely to make the cut, but they both did good work, so they merit the shout-out. Oh, and Mickey Sumner in Frances Ha.

So, to recap here’s who’s still on the table: Amy Adams, Carey Mulligan, Julia Roberts, Octavia Spencer, June Squibb, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Six contenders for three spots.

Squibb’s off. She was on the fence anyway. Zeta-Jones…give it a few years, she might get back on, but not now. And…let’s take off Mulligan. I like her work, but I can leave it off and not feel bad. So it goes.

(Also, quick shout-out to Daniella Kertesz in World War Z. Not a great film, but she was quite effective in it.)

And that leaves us with:

  • Amy Adams (Her)
  • Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
  • Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
  • Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station)

I just nominated Julia Roberts. Didn’t see that coming. And since I didn’t give you a clip of Dever’s work, here you go:

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2 thoughts on “Longlists to Nominees: Supporting Actress

  1. Pingback: Catching Up Reviews: FURY (***½), JOHN WICK (***½), STRETCH (***) and MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN (**½) | If you want the gravy...

  2. Pingback: SPECTRE Review – **** | If you want the gravy...

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