Item #1: CONTEMPLATE WHETHER PENÉLOPE'S A SURE BET FOR EITHER THE NOMINATION &/OR THE WIN.
I do think LaCruz is still the one to beat. The Academy has a long history of using the category of Supporting Actress to express their ambivalent affections toward the Woodster. Plus, Penélope's work in Vicky Christina Barcelona bears all the hallmarks of a classic Supporting Actress nomination from a Woody Allen film (a blast of energy, a showy emotional scene or two, shocking charisma from the actress herself, a dash of darkness at the edges of a mostly comic/romantic center). Even separate from the Allenesque aspects, I do think that, among the likely contenders, Cruz might appear to be "due" for recognition from the golden boy. As such, all things considered, I'm yet inclined to think that Cruz's early advantage in this field will likely still hold -- for the nomination, certainly, and probably for the win as well.
Item #2: ASSESS THE "BUZZ" THAT INSISTS THE SUPPORTING ACTRESS CATEGORY IS ALREADY LOCKED DOWN.
The emerging "conventional wisdom" seems to have already boiled the list of contenders for Supporting Actress down to a fairly tight field. According to Nathaniel, this "groupthink" is fairly sure that nominations will go to Penelope Cruz, Taraji P. Henson, Kate Winslet, Rosemarie DeWitt and Viola Davis (with Maria Tomei, or Kathy Bates, as the wild card). I'm fairly convinced that Cruz is a lock and a snub for Davis would, at this point, be fairly shocking. Beyond that, I'd only put actual dollars on Winslet. As worthy and adored as she is, I suspect Henson's fates will rise (or, perhaps more likely, fall) with those of Benjamin Button. And, as counterintuitive as it might sound, I suspect that the more love the nominators show Rachel Getting Married, the more likely it is that DeWitt will be neglected; if, however, they nominate the film in only one or two categories, I suspect DeWitt will make that shorter list. As for Tomei or Bates (or even Blanchett), I suspect that there might be enough newbies this year to keep the beloved perennials from taking root -- unless of course (a) one of the vets has a simply knockout role and (b) Winslet falls out of contention for some unforeseeable reason. In short, I think we are where we usually are right about now: two fairly solid contenders, with a nearly certain third, and the remaining two almost entirely contingent on the vicissitudes of the next six weeks. (Consider the 2007 field according to this logic: Blanchett was the frontrunner ala Cruz, with Swinton in the Davis slot and Ronan in the "entirely likely" third position. But the last two slots were fairly wide open, as Amy Ryan materialized via the critic's awards and Ruby Dee sorta came out of nowhere.)
Item #3: MEDITATE ON WHO MIGHT BE FLOATING JUST BELOW THE RADAR.
I don't know if I could tell you. I'm generally so bad at this. But here goes: I do think it's entirely possible that Slumdog Millionaire's Freida Pinto might emerge as a surprise presence in this field this year. Same goes for Sophie Okenedo from The Secret Life of Bees. Both are the (very different) kinds of roles, but precisely the sort for which voters swoon in this category (at least historically). As for some of the early names, I don't know that the women of Elegy (I'm thinking Clarkson and Cruz) will be really in the mix unless that film gains some momentum pronto. Likewise, nomination chances for the women of Synecdoche, New York seem to be diminishing as quickly as that film disappears from theatres. But when all is said and done, it all returns to Beyonce Knowles -- if she's nominated for her performance in Cadillac Records, it will be -- simultaneously -- utterly shocking and completely unsurprising.
Item #4: RUMINATE OVER WHO'S ESPECIALLY RIPE FOR A BOOST FROM THE CRITICS.
If Rosemarie DeWitt starts gathering critic's awards, scratch everything else I say about her (above and below) in this post. But I don' t think she'll be quite the contender (see above and below) that many are presuming right now. I suspect the performance that would be most helped by some precursor attention would be Elsa Zilberstein in I've Loved You So Long. Without such attention, Zilberstein will likely fall from contention but, with it, her chances escalate enormously. Same, too, could also be true for The Visitor's Hiam Abbass, but Zilberstein could become this year's Aghdashloo with some love from the more boutique awards. That said, the critics might (however ironically) also be Debra Winger's way to really enter this race.
Item #5: PONDER THE POSSIBILITY OF RACHEL REALLY STEALING THE SPOTLIGHT FROM KYM.
This is one of Nathaniel's especially pungent hypotheticals. The premise: Rosemarie DeWitt will snag a nomination while the Academy "once again" overlooks Anne Hathaway. As precedent for such a scenario, Nathaniel offers Mare Winningham's nomination for Georgia. As for me, I'm not sure I buy the comparison, for a couple of reasons. First off, in Georgia, Mare sang pretty songs while Jennifer offered gruesome shrieks. Winningham's Georgia was pleasant while Leight's Sadie was unpleasant. I'm not sure the distinction is so clear between DeWitt's Rachel and Hathaway's Kym. (Indeed, my pet theory about why Rachel Getting Married is so polarizing derives from the film's mistaken presumption that most members of the audience will strongly identify with either or both sisters; for those who don't, however, DeWitt's Rachel seems to be even more annoying than Hathaway's Kym.) That said, I'm not sure I see them both receiving nominations but -- note this -- I suspect DeWitt has a better chance of being snubbed (especially if Zilberstein starts edging into the field).
Item #6: ASK WHETHER THE CUTEST NUN IS THE MOST FAVORED LONGSHOT.
It does seem that a really cute red-headed nun might turn this hermetic world upside down as well. But so too might any number of other remarkable Supporting Actresses from 2008. Which is my way of inserting an unsubtle reminder/plug for the 3rd Annual Supporting Actress Blogathon - Class of 2008, which is barely a month away. I trust you've all identified who you plan to write about? I certainly hope so. If not, perhaps this post will start your "For Your Consideration" juices flowing. And, lovely reader, do tell me what I've missed as I've crafted these prognosticatory ruminations. Who did I leave out? Who should I have left behind? I'm sure you've got plenty to add so I hope you'll do so, either here or in comments over at The Film Experience.
What do you think, lovelies?
Share your opinions on 2008's Supporting Actressness in comments.
Share your opinions on 2008's Supporting Actressness in comments.