Rooney Mara: Looking at potential Best Supporting Actress contenders

Rooney Mara carol
As you fine ladies and gentlemen must all know by now (since I’ve pretty much hammered it into your heads), it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions in order to see what folks like myself think will happen this winter, but it’s a whole separate thing to actually know something about who and what will be in contention. To help out in that particular regard, I’m continuing my yearly ritual of running down some of the major contenders in each Oscar category in order to prep you all for the season to come. Basically, the format will have me saying a few words about what or who I feel are the top tier contenders right now in said categories, along with a longer list afterwards of many of the other hopefuls that the Academy might potentially take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet to have in your back pocket.

Today I’m continuing on with another of the big acting categories…you guessed it, it’s Best Supporting Actress time.

Here are the ten particular women that I have currently in play for Best Supporting Actress, with the top five cracking the unofficial lineup at this point:

1. Rooney Mara (Carol) *Could go Lead – I wrote a bit about Mara earlier this week when I got into the awards possibilities for Carol, but Mara is sitting in the lead here due to her Cannes Actress win. She could easily go Lead, but I have a feeling she’ll wind up going Supporting so Cate Blanchett can contend in Lead. The silver lining? That will easily make her the early odds on favorite here, at least in my book. A lot can and will change, but right now, I have her in the pole position.

2. Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight) – I’ve spent some time writing about the gentlemen of Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming flick, but what about the notable lady of the cast? Just like Bruce Dern and Kurt Russell seem like they’ll be in play for The Hateful Eight, so too will be Leigh, so is the favorite here to some. I obviously have her as the main runner up, but it’s hard not to see her as a likely nominee at this point. Especially with the potentially light competition, she might have a surprisingly easy time scoring her first ever nomination.

3. Ellen Page (Freeheld) *Could go Lead – This seems like a role built for Oscar love, and it won’t hurt that Page is a prior nominee either. We’ll have to see who goes Lead and who goes Supporting between her and Julianne Moore in Freeheld, but Page is my guess for the Supporting slot. As such, she also seems to be sitting pretty for a nod. That nom may even be able to turn into a win, but we shall see. She certainly represents part of the early big three for this category though.

4. Jessica Chastain (The Martian) – Depending on how voters respond to this movie, Chastain could either be a long shot or a somewhat safe bet. I have The Martian doing very well across the board, so Chastain essentially comes along for the ride. I’m not saying it’s an incredibly likely scenario, but if the film is as good as I think it might be, she’ll definitely have a legitimate shot to get in.

5. Zoe Kazan (Our Brand is Crisis) – A complete hunch of mine, I’ve long thought Kazan was due for some Oscar attention, so why not now for Our Brand is Crisis? If her role is big enough and showy enough, she could easily contend. We might wind up seeing someone else from the cast like Ann Dowd be a more likely player, but for now, she just slips in to my top five for Supporting Actress.

6. Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria) – It seems like a lifetime ago, but earlier this year Stewart won a Cesar award for her performance in Clouds of Sils Maria. That alone should keep her in the running for the early part of the precursor season. She’s excellent here, so if voters remember her work, she’ll certainly have a fair chance at that first citation by the Academy.

7. Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) – A few rumors about this biopic have claimed that Winslet is actually best in show, so if that’s true, one of the Steve Jobs nominations could be her in this category. I’ll be seeing it for myself in a month or so at the New York Film Festival, so we’ll have a better idea then of her candidacy. Right now, she’s one of the main contenders, but just outside the top five.

8. Elizabeth Banks (Love & Mercy) – If the Brian Wilson biopic manages to get John Cusack and/or Paul Dano into serious contention for Best Actor and/or Best Supporting Actor, it’s certainly conceivable that Banks could come along for the ride. I doubt she can really contend for a win, but a nomination is 100% not out of the question. This campaign is going to be one to keep an eye on…

9. Sarah Paulson (Carol) – Another possibility for Carol if it’s a big hit (again, as mentioned a few days ago here at the site) is Paulson scoring a slot in Supporting Actress. Her best chance would be if Blanchett and Mara both go Lead, keeping a spot more potentially open for her here. I don’t know that it happens, but it’s a wrinkle in the precursor season worth paying attention to, that’s for sure.

10. Melanie Laurent (By the Sea) – Between Laurent in By the Sea and more under the radar choices like Joan Allen in Room, Shailene Woodley in Snowden, or Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina, I opted to go with Laurent. Her film seems like a potential player, so consider her a bit of an X factor. We’ll find out if she’s truly a contender when the film finally screens, so sit tight until then.

Next in line I’d have these ten contenders (just sans my commentary here) for Best Supporting Actress:

11. Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
12. Shailene Woodley (Snowden)
13. Joan Allen (Room)
14. Rachel Weisz (The Light Between Oceans) *Possible 2016 release
15. Amy Ryan (Bridge of Spies)
16. Brie Larson (Trainwreck)
17. Helena Bonham Carter (Suffragette)
18. Elizabeth Olsen (I Saw the Light)
19. Cynthia Nixon (James White)
20. Emayatzy Corinealdi (Miles Ahead)

Finally, here are ten more possibilities to give us a top 30 to cull from, just sans commentary as well:

21. Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) *Could go Lead
22. Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
23. Tilda Swinton (Trainwreck)
24. Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs)
25. Rachel McAdams (Southpaw or Spotlight)
26. Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl)
27. Meryl Streep (Suffragette)
28. Laura Linney (Genius or Mr. Holmes)
29. Winona Ryder (Experimenter)
30. Sienna Miller (Burnt)

That’s what the Best Supporting Actress race could very well be made up of folks. Stay tuned next week for my look at the Best Adapted Screenplay race!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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