Barring a surprising SAG loss next week, there shouldn’t be much stopping Ariana DeBose from winning Supporting Actress this year, repeating what Rita Moreno did in the 1961 version of the film playing the same character. DeBose is the only contender here to nab all precursors and has already won the Globe. She will be become only the third Latina to win an acting Oscar (after Moreno, who is Puerto Rican, and Lupita Nyong’o, who is Mexican and Kenyan, for 2013’s 12 Years a Slave). She will be the first openly queer winner in this category at the time of her nomination and win.
Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog) fumbled at BAFTA and Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) missed SAG, who is in a better position? Dunst clearly has the stronger film but Ellis is in the one with the Best Actor frontrunner. Their trajectories as first-time nominees are similar enough (not a parallel but more of a zig-zag) that it’s a close call for second, but it’s still second. Unless DeBose misses, and there’s no reason to think she will.
I wonder if there’s a case to be made for Jessie Buckley being a stronger contender than her Best Picture-nominated counterparts. Could she sneak up on us like Marcia Gay Harden did in 2000 in a very fractured year? Or is she simply like Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread and the nomination is the reward? I’m leaning to the latter as The Lost Daughter missed out on both Best Picture and Best Director nods, which would have improved her chances enormously. But then, all Harden had was her lead co-star getting in and an NYFCC win. Buckley doesn’t have a trifecta win but she did score two: Boston and Toronto.
Speaking of 2000, that brings us to Judi Dench in Belfast. For some a surprise nomination here, but more so that she replaced Caitríona Balfe rather than was nominated alongside her. Dench won her only individual SAG award for Chocolat that season (in nine film nods), after Kate Hudson (Almost Famous) won the Globe and Julie Walters (Billy Elliot) won BAFTA. None of that really favors Dench here as much as it does others but I also don’t ever look the other way at eyebrow-raising nominations like hers, especially as she’s in a Best Picture frontrunner.
Precursor Watch: SAG is on February 27, Critics’ Choice and BAFTA are March 13. Oscar winner voting is March 17-22.
Here are my ranked 2022 Oscar predictions in Supporting Actress for February.
1. Ariana DeBose – West Side Story (20th Century Studios) – GG, CCA, SAG, BAFTA
2. Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog (Netflix) – GG, CCA, SAG
3. Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard (Warner Bros/HBO Max) – GG, CCA, BAFTA
4. Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter (Netflix) – BAFTA
5. Judi Dench – Belfast (Focus Features)