These 11 Women Are Vying For Best Supporting Actress At The 2017 Oscars

By | October 5, 2016

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Of the Oscars’ four acting races, Best Supporting Actress may be the most unambiguous. The category seems to belong to the five women who received both Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations this week: Viola Davis (”Fences”), Naomie Harris (”Moonlight”), Nicole Kidman (”Lion”), Octavia Spencer (”Hidden Figures”) and Michelle Williams (”Manchester by the Sea”). The Critics’ Choice Awards, which issued prizes on Sunday, had only one amendment, spotlighting Janelle Monáe over Spencer, her co-star.

Everyone else who has flitted around this contest’s second-tier ranks now seems out of commission. Had I published these rankings a few weeks ago, I’d have included Helen Mirren (”Eye in the Sky”), Margo Martindale (”The Hollars”), Felicity Jones (”A Monster Calls”) and a smattering of others. But the derby is well underway, and there’s no use holding spots for yesterday’s horses. Even listing 11 women is a bit of a stretch, but here we go.

  • missed out on a SAG nod (to Emily Blunt for “The Girl on the Train,” no less). The movie skipped most of the festival circuit, and a Christmas Day release means it’s likely to get buried in the holiday onslaught. It’s a shame because Mike Mills’ dreamy California dramedy should be something the Oscars and the general public can appreciate. If any of its supporting cast lands a nomination, it’ll be Greta Gerwig, who netted a Critics’ Choice Award shout-out.
  • Independent Spirit Award nomination over her co-stars and was the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s supporting-actress pick. Gladsone shares her section of Kelly Reichardt’s triptych with Stewart, and watching them together is a master class in subtle weariness. Ultimately, “Certain Women” is probably too reserved for the Oscars.
  • shattering scene with Casey Affleck toward the end of “Manchester by the Sea” that seemed to rip festival audiences to pieces. Williams was met with instant Oscar buzz for her grounding portrayal of a Massachusetts divorcee who’s faced great personal loss. Like much of her competition, Williams boasts the sort of Big Scene that plays well on clip reels. The New York Film Critics Circle agreed, handing her a dual supporting-actress prize for “Manchester” and “Certain Women.” It’s hard to maintain Sundance buzz for an entire year, but Williams has also been feted with the Golden Globe, SAG and Critics’ Choice Award prerequisites needed to maintain her spot in this race.
  • Oscar race for Best Actress is crowded, so Paramount opted to campaign for Davis as a supporting aspirant. It’s worked well: The bravura she displays in “Fences” has branded her the category’s front-runner. Her big, bold, searing performance is the sort of dramatic acting the Academy relishes. She offered a miniature version of it in “Doubt,” via an eight-minute cameo that earned her a nomination before most people even knew her name. With Golden Globe and SAG nods for “Fences” to her name, as well as a Critics’ Choice Awards victory, Davis appears to have narrowed this to a one-pony race.
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