Over the next two and a half weeks I’ll be taking my annual look at the major categories in the Oscar race. I start with the easiest call, Best Supporting Actress.
There seems little doubt that Anne Hathaway, as the doomed Fantine in Les Miserables, will take the top prize. Her one-take, live-recorded version of “I Dreamed a Dream” has wowed just about everybody, and Hathaway, combined with her terrific turn as Catwoman in this year’s The Dark Knight Rises, has had a sensational year and attained top stardom.
The only reason she won’t win might be a perceived notion that she’s just too damn perky. I think this comes mostly from snarky bloggers, who hated her chirpiness at the Golden Globes. But I doubt this will cost her many votes from Academy members.
But if the unthinkable happens, and Hathaway doesn’t win, who will? I think the best chance of the also-rans is Sally Field, as Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln. Field, who is one of the few people who is two for two in Oscar races, hasn’t been nominated in 28 years. Some think her “you really like me” speech turned voters off, but I think it’s been more a lack of quality material. She’s regressed back to TV and may be most well known now as a pitch woman for a bone density drug. But though she has won twice before, this is a new generation of voters, and they might feel a soft spot for her if they think it’s too much, too soon for Hathaway.
Amy Adams has received her fourth nomination for her role as the wife of the cult leader in The Master. Adams is evidently loved by the actor’s branch, but it doesn’t seem likely this will be the role that will earn her the prize. One hopes she doesn’t end up like Thelma Ritter, who was nominated six times in this category but never won.
Helen Hunt also returns after several years, gaining her first nomination in 15 years for the sex surrogate in The Sessions. Hunt, after winning Best Actress for As Good As It Gets, almost vanished from the map, and hasn’t exactly returned to her most visible status of Mad About You days, although she certainly is visible in this film, where she bares all (incidentally, for Hunt fans, check out her younger body in The Water Dance, where she shows just as much). The Sessions didn’t get any other love in the noms, so don’t expect Hunt to make it two for two.
Finally, Jacki Weaver is nominated for her performance as the enabling wife in Silver Linings Playbook. Some wags thought Weaver got in over Maggie Smith because Weaver campaigns. I don’t know about that, but I didn’t find her performance exceptional–maybe it’s because the other three principles had so much more to do. It’s interesting that Weaver, heretofore unknown in the U.S., capitalized on her nomination two years ago for Animal Kingdom and has turned that into a bankable Hollywood career. She has zero chance at winning, though.
Will win: Anne Hathaway
Could win: Sally Field
Should win: Anne Hathaway
Should have been nominated: Kelly Reilly, Flight