Newcomers often have a chance to shine in the Oscar race for Best Supporting Actress (see Alicia Vikander and Lupita Nyong’o). Fresh faces may emerge as contenders as the year rolls on. But we’re also keeping an eye on some heavy-hitter scene-stealers in supporting roles.
Contenders to emerge from Sundance include SAG nominee Holly Hunter, who steals the show alongside Ray Romano as two anxious parents with a comatose daughter (Zoe Kazan) in Amazon’s “The Big Sick”; and an unrecognizable Mary J. Blige, who shines amid the sprawling ensemble in Dee Rees’ acclaimed southern drama “Mudbound” (Netflix). The Globes, SAG and the Academy love such riches to rags transformations.
Steve Dietl / Netflix
At the fall festivals, American theater stalwart Laurie Metcalf won raves as the powerful, critical, loving mother in Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird.” She is building momentum with back-to-back wins from the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association as well as Critics Choice, Globes and SAG nominations. Also in Globes and SAG contention is another TV star who has never earned Oscar recognition, Allison Janney as the hard-driving force behind the rise of skater Tonya Harding in holiday movie “I, Tonya.”
Four other actresses emerged this fall: Globe nominee Octavia Spencer protects and gives voice to mute fellow janitor (Sally Hawkins) in Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water”; British Kristin Scott Thomas shines as the person with the most influence on Gary Oldman’s Winston Churchill, his wife, in “Darkest Hour”; Globe and SAG nominee Hong Chau steals “Downsizing” from Matt Damon; and Canadian TV star Tatiana Maslany plays the nurturing woman who cares for Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) in true Boston marathon survivor story “Stronger.”
Coming on strong is BAFTA-nominated Mike Leigh veteran Lesley Manville (“Another Year”) in late-breaking Paul Thomas Anderson drama “Phantom Thread,” who holds her own with Daniel Day-Lewis as her womanizing designer brother.
A list of (alphabetical) possibilities is below. No film is deemed a frontrunner unless I have seen it.
Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”)
Holly Hunter (“The Big Sick”)
Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”)
Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”)
Octavia Spencer (“The Shape of Water”)
Hong Chau (“Downsizing”)
Lesley Manville (“Phantom Thread”)
Tatiana Maslany (“Stronger”)
Kristin Scott Thomas (“Darkest Hour”)
Lois Smith (“Marjorie Prime”)