OK, luvvies, let’s take a flyer into Best Supporting Actress territory. This is truly the wilderness. Here’s my first pass, with many holes since ….One thing I’m sure of: Viola Davis in Best Actress — pretty confident of Keira Knightley also in lead category.
1. Octavia Spencer, The Help
2. Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
3. Vanessa Redgrave, Coriolanus
4. Marion Cotillard, Midnight in Paris
5. Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
6. Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter or Tree of Life
7. Berenice Bejo, The Artist
8. Sandra Bullock, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
9. Kate Winslet, Carnage
10. Carey Mulligan, Shame
Susan Wloszczyna: This looks pretty close to the mark of who is in the running. I would give the edge to Vanessa Redgrave, however. Although I found her rather ridiculous in Anonymous (I think I am in the minority in thinking this was Anony-mess) she is the epitome of riveting in a rather rousing Shakespeare adaptation.
As for the Melissa McCarthy confab: I thought of her force of nature in Bridesmaids. She had me won over instantly with her dainty pearl necklace — a nice contrast with her wardrobe that was inspired by Guy Fieri of Food Network fame — although it clashed with her carpal tunnel brace. If she were nominated I wouldn’t complain.
I would also move Berenice up a notch. I think the academy is going to fall hard for The Artist and she is perfection in it.
Sasha Stone: It’s hard for me to care about the Oscars this year. But every so often a name pops up that sparks my genuine interest. Melissa McCarthy is one of those. I would love to see the SAG and the AMPAS go for her performance. The only one I can’t see making your five for supporting right now is Cotillard, who just doesn’t have a big or meaty enough part to make the cut against, for example, Chastain, Mulligan or Bullock. I think Carnage is a non-starter but we’ll see about that. And what of Evan Rachel Wood in Ides of March? Or is she just done as an actress?
THELMA: I think Mildred Pierce proved that Wood’s not done as an actress, although having interviewed her for Marie Claire, she’s definitely no pet of mine. And, having seen Carnage yesterday, I’ve changed my plea on that: not meaty enough.
SUSAN: I thought Ides was a good film, but definitely not a great one, mainly because it ends up saying nothing new about the state of politics. Wood was fine in Ides as was the entire cast (save for the fact that Marissa Tomei plays a reporter by putting on glasses and not combing her hair). But Ryan Gosling is probably the only one who will come away with a nom.
SASHA: So, Susan, you think Gosling for sure for Ides? He’s that good? I guess I’m seeing it tomorrow finally.
THELMA: Wait!!! We’re off topic. Gosling for Ides? I don’t think that movie is going to make it the long mile for the very reason Susan said: it ends up saying nothing new about the state of politics. And don’t get me started about Wood’s character. I think I have an entire vituperative column about what a false construct that “intern” is.
SUSAN: Sorry, don’t mean to be random. And while Wood is fine in the role, the way she is used and presented in the film is disturbing, Thelma.
SASHA: The only reason I can’t let go of Ides is that it’s directed by Mr. Popular, George Clooney.
THELMA: OK, Sasha, he’s Mr. Popular. And he’s the man I’d most love to hang out on a desert island with — as long as I didn’t have to wash out his underwear in seawater. But, even then, I think he’ll have to consolidate and throw his passion behind Descendants. He’s not ready to do that yet, and I’m sure plenty of people will tell him that Ides is a stronger drama than it is, but someone, at some point, will set him straight.
And, Susan, how did they concoct this character who’s a new age, post-feminist man-eater, serial man-dater, who gets [[half a spoiler alert]] preggers and behaves like a secretary out of a fifties black-and-white melodrama.
SASHA: Thelma, you’re so funny. I don’t know – I keep hearing Clooney apologists talk about how good Ides is. Meanwhile, not only would I wash out Clooney’s underwear with seawater but I’d probably drink said seawater afterwards.
Kim Voynar: I would definitely wash out his underwear, but not sure about drinking the seawater. Unless I could filter out the salt. Finally have a sec to jump in here, and it’s Clooney’s underwear I latch on to.
THELMA: Oh, Sasha, I thought I was extreme! If I dropped my “I chatted with GC at TIFF” story one more time, I was going to gag myself. And, thanks, Kim, for joining us, even when stepping in and coat-tailing on Clooney’s undies.
KIM: As for the supporting actress sitch … The Help is total Oscar bait and likely to do well with that crowd. I’m not sure Tree of Life, much as I personally loved that film, will end up carrying weight through the long haul.
I didn’t hear much in the way of great buzz on Albert Nobbs at TIFF other than the expected nods toward Close’s performance. But she could turn in a nuanced performance washing Clooney’s undies in seawater
THELMA: Love the way you wove that back in there, Kim.
KIM: Thanks, that’s why they pay me the big bucks. The Artist got huge buzz out of TIFF. I missed it there but it’s definitely one to look at.
Okay, and as for McCarthy in Bridesmaids … really? Sasha, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on whether she’s a legit contender for Oscar. Globes, sure. SAG …. mmmmmaybe. But Oscar? For that kind of film? Do you honestly think the Oscar votes are likely to go for that over Redgrave, Chastain, Mulligan, Bullock AND the sentimental Sirkiness of The Help‘s supporting contenders?
SASHA: I don’t know if George Clooney even wears underwear, this is the question you should be asking us, Thelma!
Melissa McCarthy – yeah, I wouldn’t have thought so until her Emmy win. And that’s when it sparked my interest and I went, huh. Yeah. Bridesmaids. Hm.$168 million or whatever it made. Hm. Why not Bridesmaids? Why not Melissa McCarthy? After 13 years on the Oscar hamster wheel, the only way I can stay interested is in watching the impossible become possible. So I don’t know if Oscar voters WILL go for McCarthy. I hope that they do. But you’re right -it’s still considered a long shot. Mulligan for Shame is still a big question mark because will voters take to that strange movie, though it is currently my favorite of the year so far? I don’t know if they will. Moreover, they might want to go for Mulligan in Drive since she’s more palatable as a love interest (and voters, being mostly male, just can’t help themselves in that regard). I think it’s too early to say anything definitively in this category as supporting can sometimes be the only category where there are surprises.
SUSAN: Oh, Thelma. You gripe about our very professional mentions of Ryan Gosling hijacking the thread and then go on a very long swoony tangent about Georgie’s unmentionables. OK, you are the queen of this domain, I get it.
Anyway, why not McCarthy? The movie made money, she was the one who stole every scene she was in and people do love her — enough that they forgive her sitcom for not being as good as she is.
THELMA: Oh, Susan, I love being called on the carpet for my inconsistencies. Now, if only you brought along a vacuum. So, guilty as charged.
I think I’m sticking with Kim here re McCarthy. Whatever we thought of Bridesmaids, if Hangover didn’t make the cut is there any chance of Bridesmaids being an Oscar contender? I’m also seeing a bit of a Bridesmaids backlash, particularly as it comes out in DVD: it’s not necessarily living up to the buzz, and I think that when seen on Academy screeners it’s not going to get any funnier.
SUSAN: I absolve you of the sin of inconsistency. But please root more for the George of The Descendants. This early in the game, I am not going to discount any potential nominee who makes me laugh. Although she will probably have to settle for a GG nom for comedy or musical, just like Emma Stone last year, than she will an Oscar nod.
THELMA: Totally rooting for George of the Hawaiian Jungle. And I love to laugh, so I can relate to your desire to reward actors that succeed.
SASHA: Meanwhile, I do think Melissa McCarthy has a better than good chance. I think she’s got something that Emma Stone doesn’t have and that’s the notion that she may never see the Kodak again in her career. We know that won’t be so for Emma Stone. Supporting Actress seems to favor those kinds of one-offs, like Jennifer Hudson, Mo’Nique. Of course Marisa Tomei proved them all wrong.
The supporting categories seem like a crap shoot at this stage of the game where the leading contenders seem more and more locked by the day. Every year we go through this – before the nominations come it always seems like the possibilities are endless. Then, when they read the nominations that awful feeling of familiarity sinks in and you think, “oh, that’s right.” And all of the imaginings of this person or that person getting in are gone, like George Clooney’s underwear, floating farther and farther away from land until they disappear completely.
SUSAN: Wait a sec. Am I the only one who thinks Gary Oldman is sexy. He made a scuzz like Sid Vicious seem almost adorable. And his Dracula makes that Edward guy seem anemic. He could be the one who could snatch the Oscar undies away from the likes of Brad and George.
Of course, we should be talking supporting actresses but apparently there is not that much to debate yet as Sasha suggests.
KIM: Why not McCarthy? Because movies making money — especially comedies making money — tends to be irrelevant in the eyes of Oscar voters. If we were talking a little indie drama a la Frozen River or Winter’s Bone, I would maybe agree. But even Misty Upham, good as she was in Frozen River, got no Oscar love. And there doesn’t tend to be much love or respect for comedies when it comes to naked golden men.
And all this talk about Clooney’s underwear better not make it into print, lest our male colleagues accuse us of feminine frivolity. Besides, I’ve always pictured him going commando under those Oscar tuxes.
SASHA: Susan, 1989 called to remind you of when Gary Oldman was sexy. No, I kid! Men don’t age. They only get better as they get older.
As for Ms. McCarthy, I actually had no idea how versatile she was because all I’d ever seen her do was the plucky chubby best friend on Gilmore Girls. But once I saw her show her true acting ability on Bridesmaids (I can’t wait to see her host SNL next weekend) I realized that it’s not just about: let’s reward the brave fat girl. This is about acting. It really and truly is – and if those idiots in the SAG are too dense to notice because she isn’t speaking with a British accent? Well I don’t know what to say.
KIM: Sasha, I agree with you that great acting SHOULD be rewarded. But we’re talking here (I think) about whether the Academy is LIKELY to. And like it or not, I think the mostly male academy won’t see beyond the “brave fat girl in a comedy” thing. Or SAG either, for that matter. I think her best shot is in Comedy and Musical for the GGs. There are just to many other contenders in the kinds of films Oscar likes for her to have a legit shot at that.
Then again, I’d love for the Academy voters to prove me wrong.
SASHA: Indeed, Kim, you are correct. Are they most likely to? Well let’s see:
Can the supporting win make up for a whole film’s non-win? Like:
Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton
Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls
Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine
And on and on. So the answer is, no, it cannot. Let’s ask it a different way. Is it a lead performance that should never have been supporting and therefore has an unfair advantage over the other contenders? Like:
Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock
Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind
Is she Judi Dench or Vanessa Redgrave? No.
What does she do? She makes us laugh. Precedent? Marisa Tomei, Kevin Klein, Jack Palance, and Tommy Lee Jones.
I think she’s got a shot. She takes a shit in a sink. For that alone they should reward her. I know, it’s just too gross for them.
KIM: Yeah, but only one of your precedents is a chick, and Tomei at that time was also considered a hot commodity. Are Academy voters more likely to see the shit in the sink as gross or brave? I think the former, myself.
SASHA: Yeah, you’re right. I’m in denial. I’m in shit-in-the-sink denial. But you know, it’s a funny scene. How many of those actresses could really do that? But you know, a vote is done in the dark with no consequences. So people vote for who and what they like. One thing Bridesmaids has in its favor is a really skilled Oscar publicist. So if it does get in — I won’t be surprised.
SUSAN: Now here is the deal. She never shat in that sink. You just think she did because ….that is great acting. You saw her face and her strange hovering posture and you totally bought it. The poop was all in our imaginations.
Rather than look at MM as a comic actress, think of her as a fresh new find who found a way to be funny without being the stupid girlfriend or a floozy or a girl mooning over a guy the way Thelma moons over Georgie’s panties.
SASHA: The supporting actress performance I’d like to highlight, other than Melissa McCarthy, would be Carey Mulligan in Drive and : Two wonderful supporting turns by a very versatile actress. Also props to the women in The Help, all acting their hearts out, with special consideration for Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain. No-brainers, I know.
KIM: Jessica Chastain is a no-brainer, but not sure if it will be for The Help over Tree of Life. And while I haven’t seen Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I wouldn’t discount Bullock just yet. Great cast, Daldry directing? I’d say she’s in the running until we see a performance that says otherwise.
As for Mulligan, absolutely, but for Drive or Shame? I’m not sure I see the Academy getting behind Shame at all, though I suppose it’s theoretically possible that they’ll see past a film that’s maybe a little inaccessible for some of that crowd.
Oh, one thing more … poking around, I’m seeing some Oscar pundits are talking Knightley in A Dangerous Method for Lead, others for Supporting. I think it’s a lead performance my self, but I could see where she might get nommed in Supporting. And if so, I’d be behind her for a brave performance of a very strong female character.
THELMA: You know, Kim, I’d almost put Knightley in supporting so she’d have the Marcia Gay Harden, lead-in-a-supporting edge. And, look, here’s Anne Thompson with the final word:
ANNE: I agree that Melissa McCarthy is deserving, but the Academy’s general snobbery will weigh against her, I think. Also this is a stronger category than best actress and thus is more competitive.
All along I have maintained that as popular as Midnight in Paris is, it won’t get any acting nods. None of the performances are the right sort, none stand out in the right way. Cotillard’s is simply too small.