Wed. Sep 23rd, 2020

2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions: SUPPORTING ACTRESS (July)

Zhao Shuzhen as Nai Nai with Awkwafina in The Farewell (A24)

We have a new #1 in Supporting Actress and it’s Laura Dern in the new Noah Baumbach that is tentatively (possibly) now titled Marriage Story, where she has the film’s best performance buzz. Dern has had an extraordinary career renaissance thanks to Big Little Lies, which won her an Emmy in 2017, which is just about to wrap its second season on HBO with the season finale next week. Her film career is equally thriving with Trial By Fire earlier this year and the Christmas release of Greta Gerwig’s retelling of the Louisa May Alcott classic Little Women. Remember when Dern was the out of nowhere, no precursor surprise supporting actress nominee for 2014’s Wild? The Academy did. She’s also on the Board of Governors (where she turned down running for President of the Academy) and is well-liked in Hollywood. She has the recipe and the bonafides for a win.

While this bumps Margot Robbie (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood) from the top spot, I wouldn’t fret, fans of Robbie. Her film open next week and her reviews out of Cannes were good, the only real complaint was her lack of dialogue and screen time. But performances, and Oscar wins, aren’t just bits and pieces but the sum of all parts. Playing a real-life and well-known person in Hollywood history like Sharon Tate helps her enormously.

But this month is about Shuzhen Zhou in The Farewell. In her first-ever role, playing Nai Nai, the grand-matriarch of a Chinese family who is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Zhao’s performance has become the heart of the film and heavily praised in every write-up of the well-reviewed and deeply personal film (100% on Rotten Tomatoes, 89 on Metacritic) from Wang, her mirrored it on her own story and grandmother. The film broke box office records in its first weekend of limited release, earning the best per screen average of the year ($89K, beating Avengers: Endgame) and stands as the best per screen average for a largely non-English language film in box office history. Supporting Actress is often a category where first-timers can find purchase, where someone who earned no precursors can rise to prominence (see Dern above, Marina de Tavira in Roma last season) and find a spot in the final five. The narrative of this story is the kind of thing that captures voters’ hearts. While it’s still obviously very early, and I’m not sure how much Hollywood partying and handshaking Zhao would be able to participate in come awards season, it’s highly likely that her performance will carry itself for months to come.

Meryl Streep ekes into the top 5 once again, for Netflix’s The Laundromat, even though we know next to nothing about role size or its eventual release. The only thing to really know is to never, ever count her out. Streep also has a small role in Little Women later this year and can be seen hamming it up on season two of Big Little Lies, chewing scenery and jewelry alike.

Also moving up are Florence Pugh in Little Women, whose star is shining brighter by the day with Fighting with My Family earlier this year and Midsommar this summer. Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer is looking to turn three Oscar nominations into four with Luce. If she does, she’ll be the most-nominated black actress in Oscar history, breaking her tie with another Academy Award winner, Viola Davis, for that honor.

I know you’ll probably roll your eyes at Scarlett “I can play a tree” Johansson (Jojo Rabbit) holding on to her spot but her comments, as misguided and dead wrong as they are, aren’t going to amount to a hill of beans to this Academy as last season proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. If ScarJo doesn’t make it in here (or in Best Actress for the Baumbach) it’s just because they don’t like her and never have. It won’t be for her stupid word salad.

Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) and Annette Bening (The Report) fall down into Other Contenders this month. It’s a big drop for Smith, who was top 5 last month, but Downton Abbey could very well just be what we used to call a ‘coffee table’ contender, meaning Costumes, Production Design, etc. Although Smith hasn’t been nominated since 2002, she’s still a two-time winner and six-time nominee that can’t be counted out. She’s very much still a spoiler.

July brings no less than five new contenders, although many of them fall into the new Lead or Supporting? section too. Juliette Binoche and Catherine Deneuve in IFC’s The Truth (the English-language debut from Hirokazu Kore-eda) could both be lead or one could go supporting. Who knows at this point. Margaret Qualley (who was just nominated for an Emmy for FX’s Fosse/Verdon) in Against All Enemies could be the film’s lead, based on the description. That means Kristen Stewart, playing actress Jean Seberg, is also here. There’s also Academy Award winner Allison Janney (I, Tonya) for Bad Education, where she co-stars with Hugh Jackman. She could go either way. Finally, Oscar nominee Mare Winningham (Georgia) could find herself back in the race if Todd Haynes’ film Dry Run becomes a player for Focus Features.

I’m going to keep a close eye on Jennifer Hudson in Cats. No, really. The film is just starting to roll out its marketing (including a new feature up today) with the first trailer coming this Friday. There could absolutely be a place for the Oscar winner, who also has a new song in the film, if it’s actually…good. When you consider the belief is that the film is going to be an unmitigated disaster, there’s kind of nowhere to go but up, which could work heavily to her advantage.

Here are my 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions in Supporting Actress for July 17, 2019.

Green – moves up Red – moves down Blue – new/re-entry

1. Laura Dern – Untitled Noah Baumbach aka Marriage Story (Netflix)
2. Margot Robbie – Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
3. Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
4. Shuzhen Zhou – The Farewell (A24)
5. Meryl Streep – The Laundromat (Netflix)

NEXT UP (alphabetical)

Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie – Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
Brie Larson – Just Mercy (Warner Bros)
Janelle Monaé – Harriet (Focus Features)
Florence Pugh – Little Women (Sony/Columbia)
Octavia Spencer – Luce (Neon)

OTHER CONTENDERS (alphabetical)

Annette Bening – The Report (Amazon)
Juliette Binoche – The Truth (IFC Films)
Ellen Burstyn – Lucy in the Sky (Fox Searchlight)
Vanessa Bell Calloway – Harriet (Focus Features)
Penélope Cruz – Pain and Glory (Sony Classics)
Catherine Deneuve – The Truth (IFC Films)
Laura Dern – Little Women (Sony/Columbia)
Jennifer Hudson – Cats (Universal)
Allison Janney – Bad Education (TBD)
Nicole Kidman – Untitled Roger Ailes aka Fair and Balanced (Lionsgate)
Nicole Kidman – The Goldfinch (Amazon/Warner Bros)
Frances McDormand – The French Dispatch (TBD)
Bette Midler – The Glorias: A Life on the Road (TBD)
Ruth Negga – Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
Anna Paquin – The Irishman (Netflix)
Margaret Qualley – Against All Enemies (Amazon)
Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey (Focus Features)
Tilda Swinton – The Personal History of David Copperfield (TBD)
Tilda Swinton – The Souvenir (A24)
Mare Winningham – Untitled Todd Hayes aka Dry Run (Focus Features)


Juliette Binoche – The Truth (IFC Films)
Catherine Deneuve – The Truth (IFC Films)
Allison Janney – Bad Education (TBD)
Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
Brie Larson – Just Mercy (Warner Bros)
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie – Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
Margaret Qualley – Against All Enemies (Amazon)
Kristen Stewart – Against All Enemies (Amazon)
Meryl Streep – The Laundromat (Netflix)

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