Time to get to some of the bigger categories. Supporting performances are a key piece of a successful film. The supporting actress category wasn’t around for the first few years of the Academy Awards, but since its inclusion it has identified some of the best up-and-coming talent and some of the most underrated actresses working behind the scenes. This year’s nominees share a few common threads, almost all of them play second to a female lead and almost all of them play antagonistic roles to each film’s hero.
The nominees for Best Supporting Actress are:
- Mary J. Blige (Mudbound) – If someone had told me last year that Mary J. Blige would be nominated for an Oscar, I probably would have scoffed. Now that I’ve seen her, I was pleasantly surprised by her acting ability and the role she played. Her talent lies in her ability to own the situation and pull the viewer in to her side and never be let go.
- Allison Janney (I, Tonya) – Easily one of her best performances, Allison Janney plays the cruel mother of figure skater Tonya Harding, and she sells the role. Janney surrenders herself to her role and plays it perfectly, filling the screen with witty barbs and dangerous insinuations. Her talent lies in how she plays the role as a completely distant figure in a film full of hands-on performances.
- Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread) – Probably the most surprising nominee on this list, Lesley Manville plays the icy sister of a fashion designer. She witnesses all of the bizarre things done by her brother and is unfazed by his quirks. What makes Manville so compelling is her ability to completely ignore every word spoken to her and destroy anyone with a simple, calculated phrase.
- Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird) – There comes a point in an actress’ life when she starts to get roles as the mother of the lead instead of the lead. It might seem like a cruel rite of passage, but for Laurie Metcalf it is the perfect transition. Her role as the mother of the titular Lady Bird makes for a fascinating study in mother-daughter relationships and Metcalf puts every ounce of herself into this performance.
- Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water) – Octavia Spencer has made a career out of playing seemingly oppressed black women in a temperamental time in history. Her role here is as the voice of the mute protagonist; her ability to translate facial expressions and feeling through her own performance. Her role succeeds because she offers a grounded character to whom the audience can easily relate.
My Prediction to win is…