Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Supporting Actress contenders

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As you fine ladies and gentlemen must all must 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 and I bet you guessed which one it is. Yes, it’s Best Supporting Actress time.

Michelle Williams Hollywood Fashion Awards 600x269
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. Kristen Stewart (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk or Café Society) – With the category wide open, why not put the overdue for a nomination Stewart at the top? I think she’s worthy for Woody Allen’s Café Society, but her better shot is probably in the upcoming Ang Lee war film Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. She’s going to get a nod one of these days, so it’s hardly a long shot to consider her this year. If she gets in, there’s definitely a shot she could turn into the frontrunner. Keep a close eye on the precursors, as they might really set her up for success.

2. Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea) – A number of my colleagues have Williams high up for Kenneth Lonergan’s well regarded Sundance title Manchester by the Sea. I have her one off from the top spot, which is still pretty good. She’s due for a win one of these days, so it makes a ton of sense to have her waiting in the wings if Stewart falls off in some way. As long as her film doesn’t get ignored, Williams is going to be in play this season. The question is just, to what degree?

3. Rachel Weisz (The Light Between Oceans) – Depending on how Disney treats Derek Cianfrance’s period piece, Weisz could turn into a big contender for The Light Between Oceans. She would certainly be an unusual two time winner if she emerged victorious here, but anything is possible. This may turn out to be too high of a spot for her, but if not, consider her a big contender for another nom. Time will ultimately tell her, but as of today, I’m not inclined to bet against her…

4. Ellen Fanning (20th Century Women or Live by Night) – Consider this a hunch, but I think Fanning could wind up in play for either Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women or if Ben Affleck actually has Live by Night get an Oscar qualifying run in 2016. Her first citation will be her next one, and I think it’s getting to be time. That’s up to the voters, obviously, but things could easily break in her direction. Sit tight to see, especially if Affleck’s flick comes out!

5. Jennifer Aniston (The Yellow Birds) – This is a shot in the dark, but after Aniston just missed two years ago, perhaps this year she can do it for The Yellow Birds? Alexandre Moors’s film is an X factor, so there’s a definite chance she contends for one of these slots if the movie doesn’t fall flat on its face. There’s no way to know just yet, but in an open field, I’m choosing to have Aniston in as opposed to some of the other main contenders below.

6. Nicole Kidman (Lion) – There’s a good chance that Lion becomes a big awards player, so you have to consider Kidman here. Garth Davis’ film certainly has the right backing in Harvey Weinstein/The Weinstein Company, so she’s nipping on the heels of some of the above players, and that’s sight unseen. Her stock is clearly rising though, so it may not be long before Kidman is in the top five. Stay tuned to see, but expect it to happen sooner rather than later…

7. Rebecca Ferguson (The Girl on the Train) – Unless the film is a hit, I doubt that Ferguson will be heavily in play for The Girl on the Train, but if it is, Tate Taylor does have a history of getting his Supporting Actress players cited. She’s an intriguing candidate, but again, I just don’t see this title being one that’s going to make a dent on the precursor season. Maybe I’m wrong, and in which case I’ll adjust, but I’m definitely not bullish on its chances.

8. Laura Dern (The Founder) – I feel like Dern is always under appreciated, so if she’s part of the reason that John Lee Hancock’s The Founder works, she could definitely pop up. Another release from Weinstein, it could get lost in the shuffle in categories other than Best Actor, so that could make a Supporting Actress citation harder to pull off, but not impossible. It’ll come down to how it plays once it comes out, so hold tight until then folks…

9. Naomi Harris (Collateral Beauty) – I’ve heard conflicting reports about the quality of David Frankel’s Collateral Beauty. If it turns out to be worthy of consideration, Harris could easily wind up in play. She does seem to be moving down charts as opposed to up them, however, so that gives me pause. I might have her out of the top ten next time, but for now, she remains in the upper echelon. Rumors don’t always turn out to be true, so keep that in mind!

10. Laura Linney (Sully) – You always have to consider Linney a threat, especially with Sully an obvious prestige picture. When Clint Eastwood is on as a director, he churns out voter friendly material. Teaming him up with her could be something that members of the Academy just can’t resist. We shall see, and right now the buzz is fairly muted on this one, but that’s going to change in the next few months, I’m fairly certain…one way or the other. It’s just a waiting game now.

Rachel Weisz 600x300
Next in line I’d have these ten contenders (just sans my commentary here) for Best Supporting Actress:

11. Shailene Woodley (Snowden)
12. Dakota Fanning (American Pastoral)
13. Rosemarie DeWitt (La La Land)
14. Sienna Miller (The Lost City of Z)
15. Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women)
16. Mia Wasikowska (HHhH)
17. Jennifer Jason Leigh (LBJ)
18. Lupita Nyong’o (Queen of Katwe)
19. Bryce Dallas Howard (Gold)
20. Gretchen Mol (Manchester by the Sea)

Jennifer Aniston Honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 22, 2012
Finally, here are ten more possibilities to give us a top 30 to cull from, just sans commentary as well:

21. Brie Larson (Free Fire)
22. Zooey Deutsch (Everybody Wants Some)
23. Katey Segal (Bleed for This)
24. Sarah Gadon (Indignation)
25. Lea Seydoux (The Lobster)
26. Julianne Moore (Maggie’s Plan)
27. Naomi Watts (Demolition)
28. Imogen Poots (Green Room)
29. Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms)
30. Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)

Laura Dern 600x300
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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