Thursday, August 25, 2005

Oscar: Where We Stand Now (Supporting Actress)

Part 2 of 4
Last time on "Where We Stand Now" we documented the only current supporting actors who might survive through the fall season to an Oscar nod.

Here's a quick look at the 5 likeliest nominees (according to my idea of AMPAS tastes) if the year ended on August 31st. What are the chances for these candidates going into 2005's final four-month stretch?

Supporting Actress
Dakota FanningWar of the Worlds
Taraji P Henson Hustle & Flow
Thandie Newton Crash
Renee Zellweger Cinderella Man
Zhang Ziyi 2046

I wanted to throw in Mary Lynn Rajskub for Mysterious Skin just for the helluva it. She'd be lucky to even be considered for the Indie Spirits though. (I thought she was terrific in Punch Drunk Love too.) As for the gorgeous collection of acclaimed ladies in Broken Flowers ...I haven't yet seen it --but we're talking buzz here and that is all about Bill Murray. Not a one of the women have been singled out to any substantial degree.

But back to the imaginary August year-end roundup. If you accept my premise that those five are the leaders... will they hold up through the Fall? Taraji P Henson won't be in play. Her leading man Terrance Howard, who is having a great year, may be able to make a bid for lead actor for Hustle & Flow. That is IF the critics give him a boost at year's end. But he would have to be a slam dunk to help pull someone else in. And he isn't. Neither of them are well-known enough for easy balloting from the fame-loving Oscar voters. Ziyi Zhang is also dead in the water. Well, for this film at least. Her performance in 2046 is sensational. In fact, it's my favorite in this category so far and I'm not even a "fan" of the budding superstar. But how many voters will see this Hong Kong gem? They didn't even nominate Wong Kar-Wai's masterpiece In the Mood for Love for Best Foreign Film in its year. He and his films are apparently too cool for the Academy's school.

So that leaves us with a frightened little girl, a Crash victim, and Oscar's numero uno favorite type "The Supportive Spouse". None of these contenders will survive until nomination day but we'll complete the exercize anyway because we love talking about Oscar.

Pros & Cons
In Crash's acclaimed ensemble Thandie Newton has the meatiest female role (+) she's gorgeous (+) and the Academy loves victims (+). Unfortunately her performance is uneven (-) she has internal competition (big -) and she's not "due" (-). Speaking of "due" ---how's that for an unlikely segueway into conversations about an 11-year-old??? Who'da thunk that Dakota Fanning would have such a career already? Given her work to date and her 'it' status as thechild star right now, it's easy to imagine her as a future nominee --or at least as the next Drew Barrymore. She's an unusually gifted child star in a category that does, in fact, reward child stars (+) she steals the movie from a big star (+) Too bad her character is missing an arc (big -) and it's a summer blockbuster (-). Finally there's the desperate Oscar-lust of Renee Zellweger to consider. She plays Oscars unarguable favorite supporting role in Cinderella Man (enormous +) and they like her (+). But, after a four year dominance of the red carpet and a recent win they really owe her zilch (-) her film wasn't a hit (-) and the press doesn't fawn over her anymore (big -).

Most Likely to Survive?
All five of Oscar's eventual nominees in this category have yet to surface. But of those we've covered I'll say Thandie Newton in Crash is the only one that any upcoming performer should consider fearing. But even then, she'll need the film to win its marathon run to the Best Picture shortlist in order to pull it off. Thandie's a conceivable nominee but a total longshot.


Anonymous said...

I, for some reason, heard that Zells was going Lead for "Cinderella Man," but it's unsubstantiated as of yet. (Also, she won't make it in either category.)

Kris said...

I would've included Bullock, but ultimately I think Zellweger is the obvious hopeful to last till the end. Cinderella Man is not as dead as many seem to think it is, though regardless, she's the weakest hopeful of the cast.


i had Bullock in originally but replaced her with Ziyi who I'd forgotten about because I am brain dead today.

she's totally my favorite this year (so far) so that's stoopid.

John T said...

I think that Newton would have the best shot of those five (though one has to wonder if and when they are ever going to honor Sandra Bullock).

I have a question for you, though, Nathaniel, in regards to this race. Do you have any idea how large of role Jean Smart has in Munich-she seems like the sort of TV actress who could score at the Oscars with a nomination for the right role.

adam k. said...

I really don't think anyone out already will be making it. Renee would be a shoo-in had she shockingly lost for Cold Mountain, but as it is, she's over. What would be the point of another supporting nom now anyway? Crash just doesn't seem like it will make THAT big an impression. Screenplay. Done.
I just don't see how any of these women could ever outdo the upcoming perfs from Collette, Dunst, Sarandon, Johannson, Clarkson, Winslet, Thurman, etc. This category will fill up fast at the end of the year.

Kris said...

I agree, this category is SO stacked. Hammering out my column the other day I started to get excited (as opposed to bored senseless with the lead actress column) because of the number of hopefuls we have coming down the pike. All interesting characters in a variety of films.

Anonymous said...

Ziyi WAS awesome in 2046 wasn't she?

And, yeah, I'd figure they'd nominate Bullock before Ziyi or the lady from Hustle & Flow.

I really thought Thandie was great. But who knows if five better supporting turns will arrive. We won't know till January i suppose.



i agree with everyone that noone who has yet arrived is going to make it (in this category) but SOMEONE who has already arrived IS going to make it. That's what happens every year. Hence this exercize

Anonymous said...

None of those women can possibly make it to the end of the year. However, there is one who you left out--Amy Adams in Junebug. This film has done almost nothing at the box office, yes. But critcs have unanymously praised her work as the best this year if you see for yourself, it is impossible to disagree. She is hysterically funny (+, in supporting categories at least) but she also has the most emotionally heavy scene in the film. If she can get any traction from critics' awards groups, she may have the best shot of anyone in this category so far this year.

Calum Reed said...

I'd love for Zhang Ziyi to make it as she's absoloutely wonderful in the film. The best I've seen this year, but she has no shot. However, it might help her in the lead campaign.

I pretty much agree with your analysis, except I think they're gonna campaign Zelwegger as lead, which should all but crush her hopes. Newton is probably the only one that has a chance, unless they're dying to give Fanning a nod.

Kris said...

I think it's a valid exercise. Ultimately, I'd expect the only real hopefuls of the pre-season contnders are:

Joan Allen in The Upside of Anger
Kevin Costner in The Upside of Anger

Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man
Paul Giamatti in Cinderella Man
Renee Zellweger in Cinderella Man

Matt Dillon in Crash
Thandie Newton in Crash

Terrence Howard in Hustle & Flow

I've got Giamatti in my predictions. And I really want to throw Crowe in there too. The marketing team on Crash is entirely convinced Dillon will score, but I don't know.

Anonymous said...

If they are wanting to truly reward Dakota Fanning they can wait until at least something like Charlotte's Web. That will at least have some emotional scenes that don't involve the audience having to listen to her SCREECH!