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Oscar Buzz: Who Could Be Set For Nods In The Supporting Actress Race?

Oscar Buzz: Who Could Be Set For Nods In The Supporting Actress Race?

Across the last week or so, with film festival season in remission after the end of the New York Film Festival, we’ve been taking the temperature of the acting Oscar races. We’ve examined the stacked Best Actor possibilities, the less obviously stacked Best Actress line-up and the decidedly thin Best Supporting Actor potentials already, and now it’s time to look at Best Supporting Actress.

The category has the potential to be one of the more interesting this year: among the potentials are a once-famous star who’s mostly been absent from the big screen in the time it took to shoot the movie she could be nominated for, a former starlet chasing her first nomination in nearly a decade, and Meryl Streep. Always with the Meryl Streep. But there’s plenty to come that could end up throwing the race for a loop. Take a look at our thoughts below, and let us know who you want to see nominated in the comments.

Front-Runners:
For once, this category looks more packed than their male equivalents, though again, there isn’t much in the way of front-runners so far. Surprisingly, at the front of the pack right now is Patricia Arquette. The actress has mostly been spending her time on TV’s “Medium,” but she was also intermittently shooting Richard Linklater‘s “Boyhood” for more than a decade, and her memorable (if, we’d argue, somewhat underwritten) performance has been building steam since the film debuted at Sundance, thanks in part to that killer final scene. The combination of the comeback and viewers’ identification with her character looks to make her a real force, a lock for nomination, and potentially even a winner.

Likely heading for her second nomination (her first in nine years, no less) is Keira Knightley, who has a reasonably meaty supporting turn in “The Imitation Game.” Knightley’s been getting better and better over the years, and there’s little of the stiffness she once had in period pieces in this film, and enough emotive performances therein that she should end up following it.

Still To Come:
One of the more potent possibilities yet to be unveiled is Jessica Chastain‘s turn in “Interstellar” — Paramount and Chastain’s camp are said to be high on the possibilities of her not just being nominated but also winning. We’d need to see the film to be sure, but it’s been another great year for the actress, so a third nomination isn’t out of the question. Co-stars Mackenzie Foy and Ellen Burstyn are also viable, but for one of them to be nominated alongside Chastain would be… historically interesting.

Into The Woods” has several potentials: as we said above, Meryl Streep or Emily Blunt could reside in this category if they don’t end up in Best Actress, while Anna Kendrick (Cinderella), Lilla Crawford (Little Red Riding Hood) or Mackenzie Mauzy (Rapunzel) might all end up being the show-stealers. The film’s being treated with skepticism by many Oscar bloggers right now, but don’t forget that even “Nine” got a nod for Penelope Cruz in this category. “Selma” again has multiple potentials, including Oprah Winfrey, Lorraine Toussaint and Carmen Ejogo (if the latter isn’t nominated for Best Actress), but it’s too early to tell who’s the most potent yet.

In theory, we guess that Sigourney Weaver might be an option for “Exodus,” and either Jessica Lange or Brie Larson have potential for “The Gambler,” depending on how it turns out. But the dark horse to watch here might be Sienna Miller for “American Sniper.” The actress also has a small role in “Foxcatcher,” but reportedly has much more to do in Clint Eastwood‘s film, and if that catches light with voters, she could end up with her first nod.

Looking Strong:
There’s several strong potentials jostling for position here, almost any of whom could end up in the final five. Laura Dern‘s had buzz since the Telluride Film Festival for her crucial flashback role as Reese Witherspoon‘s “Wild” —the actress has been on something of a comeback trailer of late thanks to “Enlightened” and “The Fault In Our Stars,” and that’s always an appealing narrative to voters. Emma Stone also came out of the festivals looking strong for her “Birdman” supporting turn: it’s a smallish part, but Stone makes an impact every time she’s on screen, and she’s a continually popular performer (even if she didn’t get a nod for “The Help“).

To the weariness of those of us who were hoping to get through awards season without demented comments wars on every post, Kristen Stewart is getting a serious push from Sony Pictures Classics for “Still Alice.” The actress has had a good year with “Camp X-Ray,” “Clouds Of Sils Maria” and now this (which she’s reportedly excellent in), and though she’s not a lock in the way that Julianne Moore is, certainly seems to have a fair choice. There was a lot of buzz in advance of NYFF about Katherine Waterston‘s performance in “Inherent Vice” —it’s dissipated slightly since the film actually screened, but if voters like the film more than prognosticators think, it could still happen. And finally, there’s a growing fanclub for “The Leftovers” actress Carrie Coon, who plays Ben Affleck‘s sister in “Gone Girl” — she gives the best performance of the most sympathetic character in the film, and might make it if Fox decides to fight for her.

Deserving Consideration:
Speaking of “Gone Girl,” we certainly wouldn’t be averse to a nod for Kim Dickens —she’s better than ever in Fincher’s film. Also in darker territory, Rene Russo is very good in “Nightcrawler” —we suspect the film won’t register with the Academy, but if it does, she might well have a shot here.

Looking further back, our love for “Only Lovers Left Alive” certainly extends to Mia Wasikowska’s performance, maybe her best, and certainly her funniest, while Kelly Reilly was somewhat undersung for her turn in “Calvary.” And more recently, both Isabelle Huppert and, especially, Viola Davis were very good in “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby.” We’d love nothing more than to see Tilda Swinton‘s brilliant bit of grotesquerie in “Snowpiercer” recognized. And while we’re talking about sci-fi that will never, ever get nominated, what about Emily Blunt in “Edge Of Tomorrow,” the kind of performance that doesn’t get the credit it’s due because it’s in a big blockbuster? 

Longer Shots:
Again, the box office disappointment of “Get On Up” probably ruled out any chance of a nod for Viola Davis this year (she’ll probably earn an Emmy next time around for “How To Get Away With Murder,” though). Dorothy Atkinson‘s potentially one to keep an eye on if “Mr. Turner” catches on, while if anyone liked “Men Women & Children,” Jennifer Garner might have been a possibility. And, uh, Cameron Diaz in “Annie,” maybe?…

Predictions:

Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”)
Carrie Coon (“Gone Girl”)
Keira Knightley (“The Imitation Game”)
Emma Stone (“Birdman”)
Meryl Streep (“Into The Woods”)

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