2016 Oscars: Supporting Actress

Continuing my series of 2016 Oscars posts, which will run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the three weeks leading up to the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 28.

NOMINEES FOR ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Who Will Win: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Who Could Win: Rooney Mara, Carol
Who Should Win: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Who Should Be Here: Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina

2015 was definitely the breakout year for Swedish born Alicia Viklander, who went from relative obscurity to a bonafide star in less than a calendar year. She could easily have been nominated for two of her four 2015 roles, but the Academy voters chose her work in The Danish Girl for her to receive her first shot at Oscar glory. And what a role it was too – though not the titular “Danish Girl” (that was Eddie Redmayne, who won last year for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking), Vikander’s “Gerda” owned the screen every time she was on it, ultimately making the film her own by closing credits. At times subtle and showy, nuanced and noisy, Vikander is sure to be the next “it girl” in Hollywood – and her first foray into franchise filmmaking comes with “Jason Bourne” – coming this summer.

If I had to pick someone other than Vikander to win, I’d hand the trophy to Rooney Mara, who had the more interesting of the two characters in “Carol”, the 1950s drama about two women lovers. Though Cate Blanchett’s character was considered “the lead” and had that old timey epic quality to her, Mara’s Therese was the quiet, subtle counterpart that allowed that film to work.

I saw a quite somewhere form a Hollywood writer that went something like, “I’d give Kate Winslet an Oscar for ordering pizza”, and that’s certainly true (I mean it in a good way, really). Winslet is the best actress of her generation – bar none – and so deeply sunk into her role of Steve Jobs’ assistant that she was barely recognizable at points throughout the film. It’s really a shame that she doesn’t get more major roles.

Rounding out the category are Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight and Rachel McAdams for Spotlight. It’s somewhat ironic that the only woman in a movie full of men is the only one to receive the Oscar nod, but The Hateful Eight will likely go down as something of a career renaissance for Leigh. McAdams is a terrific actress, but Spotlight wasn’t her time. Not that she wasn’t great – she was – but the film was so entirely story-driven that it’s hard to recognize any one performance or character for award contention. Too bad the second season of True Detective was so poorly received – that was some of her best work to date.