Oscar Watch: Best Supporting Actress Analysis (2016)

Oscar15header

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

While The Hateful Eight was shut out in all major categories, this is the one it needed to get.  Quentin Tarantino is good at a lot of things, but none better than getting his actors Oscar nominations.  While the film is flooded with phenomenal performances, we knew Leigh was the guaranteed stand out from the first trailer when she makes that mock hanging sign with her tongue sticking out.  Daisy Domergue is a despicable and disgusting human being, but the classic character you love to hate.  Aside from her nasty words and ugly charisma, there’s one scene in particular where she seems vulnerable, showing the range of both the character and performance.  While this is a fun and welcome performance to have among the nominations, it’s got virtually no chance of winning.Hateful-Eight-poster

Chances of Winning: Low

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar?  Yes

Rooney Mara (Carol)

The Weinstein’s got away with one here by getting Mara in the Best Supporting Actress category.  It could have gone either way.  Therese Belivet is the real protagonist, as she undergoes the main character arc.  This is my favorite performance out of all the nominees, and without question the most challenging.  The character doesn’t get a lot of big speeches or emotional meltdowns.  It’s all understated and carefully portrayed by Mara, who’s putting together a nice little career.  Her one scene from The Social Network could have easily netted a nomination.  Mara is without question one of the front runners in this category.

Chances of Winning: High

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar?  Yes

carol-poster-2

Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Rachel McAdams’ best performance before this was probably Mean Girls way back in 2004.  I’ve never been a big fan.  While this is a dream script that fell into her lap, McAdams takes advantage of every word.  Much like everyone else in Spotlight, it’s her drive to find the truth that endears you to the character.  I’ve never seen McAdams so passionate about a role, which is why she got the nomination.  While a slight dark horse here, the lack of big Oscar moments will hurt.

Chances of Winning: Middle of the Pack

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar?  Yes

Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

This is another one that could have gone the Best Actress route, which also would have left the door open for a Vikander double nomination.  Even though Ex Machina is overrated, she’s probably more deserving in that, but this performance is certainly no slouch.  Just as in Eddie Redmayne’s other film from last year (The Theory of Everything), where Felicity Jones actually has the tougher job as the wife, Vikander plays a very similar character.  The struggle Gerda goes through in wanting to support her husband becoming a woman, but also the frustration at the overall situation is a tough balance, but Vikander nails it.  She’s running third in this category, but definitely has a legit shot to upset the two front runners.

the-danish-girl-poster

Chances of Winning: Middle of the Pack

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar?  Yes

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Winslet gives the best performance in this movie.  Not to take anything away from Michael Fassbender, but every time Winslet speaks, we all listen.  You need to believe this is the only character in the movie that can shoot down Steve Jobs.  You need to believe she’s the only character who’s opinion Jobs respects.  Kate Winslet is that character.  Joanna Hoffman is forced to adapt to some crazy situations, but she constantly handles them like a pro.  Winslet really makes me believe she actually experienced the hell that was Steve Jobs.  It’s a commanding performance, which is why Winslet could very easily earn her second Oscar.

Chances of Winning: High

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar?  Yes

======================================================================================================
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.