Lead and Supporting Actress is always fraught with category confusion or undecided placement and this year is no different. In our top 5, no less than three (Mara, Vikander and Watts) could potentially go either way. It all depends on how the studios will see a clearer path to a nomination. Focus Features will have an especially difficult time in that it has both The Danish Girl and Suffragette with Vikander and Carey Mulligan each battling for a Best Actress nomination. Or, they’ll have to figure out how to best manage a Supporting Actress campaign for her, Helena Bonham Carter and possibly Meryl Streep, both in Suffragette. Naomi Watts’s role in Fox Searchlight‘s Demolition, from Awardswatch members who have seen the film, say she could go either way as well. While Diane Ladd seems to have a secure hold on the likely supporting actress nomination for 20th Century Fox‘s Joy, we’re also watching out for Isabella Rossellini to make an impact there. Then there’s Ellen Page; her support with the Gold Rush Gang is dwindling but could it be that she’s more of the lead in Lionsgate‘s Freeheld than Julianne Moore? Freeheld is Page’s baby that she’s been trying to bring to the big screen and that could be enough to catapult her into Lead territory and possibly moving Moore here. A duel Best Actress set of nominations from the same film would be exponentially more difficult and we haven’t seen that since 1992’s Thelma & Louise.
Carol‘s Rooney Mara maintains her comfortable 1st place lead for the second month in a row but The Danish Girl‘s Alicia Vikander is starting to secure her spot here in Supporting Actress quickly over Lead. Diane Ladd in Joy jumps ahead of Naomi Watts and we have single votes for Olivia Cooke in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Laura Linney in Mr. Holmes (without the benefit of her male lead getting in, shades of Kinsey) and Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs.
Although they haven’t received votes (yet), we’re definitely keeping an eye on Marion Cotillard in Macbeth, Elizabeth Olson in I Saw the Light and Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight. With the former back in Oscar’s graces with her semi-surprise nomination this year Cotillard playing one of Shakespeare’s most reviled and revered villains could see her invited to the party once again. In the case of Olson, what seemed like a clear path for her in Martha Marcy May Marlene could find itself come to fruition here, playing second fiddle to a Best Actor country singer contender (winner?) a la Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart. Finally there’s Jennifer Jason Leigh from Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. In her 30+ year career, Leigh has never been Oscar-nominated despite major critical praise and awards for Last Exit to Brooklyn, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle and Georgia (for which her co-star, Mare Winningham, was nominated). Could The Hateful Eight be her Oscar breakthrough? Or is her role too small and we’re looking at what happened to Kerry Washington in Django Unchained; early predictions until we saw how small the role was. We’ll see, we’ll see.
For an expanded list of Best Supporting Actress contenders click here. For the rest of the Gold Rush Gang’s Oscar Predictions click below.