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2011 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

I think the Best Supporting categories are the toughest nuts to crack, often a fine performance counts as a rare sympathy vote for a film that isn’t nominated in any other category. This year’s real wild card are the actresses involved in Woody Allen’s latest which employs a trio of supporting ladies in Freida Pinto, Anna Friel and Lucy Punch – but at this point its anyone’s guess on how pivotal they become to the assigned male characters.

I think the Best Supporting categories are the toughest nuts to crack, often a fine performance counts as a rare sympathy vote for a film that isn’t nominated in any other category. This year’s real wild card are the actresses involved in Woody Allen’s latest which employs a trio of supporting ladies in Freida Pinto, Anna Friel and Lucy Punch – but at this point its anyone’s guess on how pivotal they become to the assigned male characters. Another performance that I would have included is the perfectionist mom character that Annette Benning plays in The Kids Are All Right, but if you wait until I get to the Best actress category you’ll figure out why I removed her from the list. Here is yesterday’s predictions for Best Cinematography and tomorrow, I’ll dig into the Best Supporting Actors predictions. Once again my vote on who I think will win is the picture above – trust me I’m just as surprised as you are. 

Amy Adams, Hiam Abbass, Melissa Leo, Rebecca Hall

Five Noms:

Amy Adams for The Fighter
Comment: Not sure if Amy Adams’ character of Charlene is the equivalent to Rocky’s Adrian, but if Paramount book a strategic November or December slot, I’m thinking that period pic will give Adams’ her third Best Supporting nod after Junebug and Doubt.

Hiam Abbass for Miral
Comment: Now that the veteran actress is no longer an unknown (I’m thinking that her part in The Visitor brought her more attention than her part in Spielberg’s Munich), I think if Miral really takes off on the festival circuit and finds a theatrical release for the late Fall, then Abbass’ take as Hind Husseini – the head of the orphanage with find its fan amongst the older voters. 

Elle Fanning for Somewhere
Comment: Safe to say that Coppola writes some unforgettable female characters, I think the younger Fanning has gained enough acting experience in her own bio and mentorship from older sister to pull off a “Tatum O’Neal”. Here she plays a Cleo, a daughter who pulls her addicted father out of his slumber. If she arrives a little late in the film, then Fanning looks good for this category.  

Melissa Leo for The Fighter
Comment: A matriarch of the two boxer brothers Dickie (Christian Bale) and Micky (Mark Wahlberg), my thinking is Leo’s character might be in the forefront, because this is the year the Academy finally invites David O. Russell to the big party. Plus who can forget her in Frozen River, for which she earned her first acting nom for Best Leading Actress.

Rebecca Hall for The Town
Comment: Thank god that not all bank tellers got replaced by ATMs. Those killer freckles swooned plenty in of fans of Vicky Cristina Barcelona, I’m throwing the dice on this film as a whole, my thinking is it might compete with the big guys in September and benefit from a possible TIFF spotlight. Hall will play a bank teller who basically attracts two sets of eyes in which I beleive belong to Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner.

Dark horse picks:

Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom
Comment: At first, Weaver’s oddball character is somewhat lost in the backdrop until she effectively changes the decor of this Aussie pic with a character that lingers well after the film has ended. I think SPC releases this at the midway point. 

Lesley Manville for Another Year
Comment: It’s a given that a Mike Leigh film will hold some powerful lead and supporting performances. Manville fits that description.

Bryce Dallas Howard for Hereafter
Comment: Clint Eastwood films play especially well for the Academy voters, but for the time being, Howard’s character and her involvement are questions marks only.

Naomi Watts for Mother and Child
Comment: If Academy members remember this complex character from last year’s TIFF or this year’s Sundance or this May (which is when SPC releases the picture) then Watts could add this to her only other previous acting nod for 2003’s 21 Grams, but something tells me that it is her part in a political thriller alongside Sean Penn that should get that second nod.

Amber Heard for The Rum Diary
Comment: Center of a love triangle between Johnny Depp and Aaron Eckhart’s character, with significant screen time, Heard’s character of Chenault could attract significant attention from men’s heart and voting members. A campaign will be mounted after it probably screens and gets bought in Cannes.

Saoirse Ronan for The Way Back
Comment: A film that is distinctly driven by the presence of male characters, I think Ronan has a pretty good chance for a second Best Supporting nod after Atonement

Of course, I’d like to know your thoughts & let us know what you think might be missing.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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