This year, I thought it would be fun to look more closely at the nominees for the big categories (Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Supporting Actor) at the Academy Awards in advance of the ceremony instead of only doing a look back once the dust has settled.
This time around we’re looking at the field for the Best Supporting Actress.
Amy Adams, Vice
At this point, Amy Adams feels like to Susan Lucci of the Academy Awards. This is her sixth nomination and she’s quickly establishing an “it’s time” narrative around her award season campaigns. In a year where the ostensible frontrunner, Regina King, has missed a few key nominations, it is possible that campaign will pull off a victory this year, but most likely Adams will still have to wait for her Oscar.
As Lynne Cheney, Adams does a spectacular spin on the classic Lady Macbeth role. She’s heartless, relentless, and in many ways just as unreadable as her husband. But Adams does more with a single look than perhaps any other actor nominated this year, cannily revealing glimpses into Lynne Cheney’s execrable internal life in a way her costar Christian Bale did not.
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Marina de Tavira’s despondent mother lurks on the periphery of Roma, so it could be easy to miss what she does for the movie in favor of her more prominent costar, Yalitza Aparicio. But since Aparicio’s housekeeper and nanny is so stoic, de Tavira does a lot of the work adding emotional texture and depth to Roma. She’s the beating heart behind the movie, and a big reason why I keep thinking about the film so many weeks after seeing it.
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Like Amy Adams, Regina King has been steadily putting in good work in movies for nigh-on twenty years. Unlike Amy Adams, King has no Oscar nominations to show for it–until this year, that is. As a devoted, loving mother, it falls on King to convey the emotional themes behind If Beale Street Could Talk, and she does this beautifully. I wanted a lot more of her in this movie–which is both a mark for her and against her.
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Turns out that if anyone were to do a modern remake of All About Eve (which no one should ever do), Emma Stone would be a natural fit for the character of Eve–a seemingly sweet and naive but actually ruthless and calculating social climber willing to do anything to advance herself.
I don’t have the receipts to back this up, but it feels like Stone actually has the most screentime in The Favourite, so in a movie with dubious category distinctions, she feels like the toughest fit for her ultimate category for me. And in a category crowded with great work, Stone is also the one who fades into the background.
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Like Emma Stone and Olivia Colman, you could argue about which race Rachel Weisz (a previous winner in this category for 2005’s The Constant Gardener, although I would have rewarded someone else) should be in. In this case, I think I’m okay with her categorization. And the performance, well, the performance is nothing short of spectacular.
Weisz is almost alarmingly good as the Queen’s right hand, who secretly rules the kingdom while Her Majesty frets and plays with her pet rabbits. Weisz is mean, ruthless, and perhaps overly confident regarding the security of her position. She’s delicious.
Should Win/Will Win
Rachel Weisz absolutely deserves this award. There shall be no argument.
But with the potential for vote-splitting between her and costar Emma Stone as well as the strong campaigns for Regina King and Amy Adams, it looks like Weisz is not the, ahem, favorite here. King has the advantage.
My Personal Nominations
I struggle with this one because I think this is a strong field, but ultimately I think I would swap out Emma Stone in favor of Elizabeth Debicki’s layered performance in Widows. You may disagree with me, but this is my list so there.