Oscar 2012: Actress in a Supporting Role

Over the next few weeks (when I feel like it and get through the remainder of the Oscar nominees) I will examine each of the races in the top eight categories. I am in no way trying to keep this objective or subjective; like with everything else in this blog, I’m writing what I think and don’t really filter it.

The Nominees
Bérénice Bejo – The Artist
Jessica Chastain – The Help
Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer – The Help

Three of the four primary women in The Help were nominated for Academy Awards this year (two in this category, Viola Davis in the Lead and Emma Stone was left out), giving the film the most acting nominations this year. Though Spencer is a distinguished “That Girl” (tons of movies without remembering her), both she and Chastain saw breakthrough parts in the film.

The remaining three actresses could not be more different. Janet McTeer is a distinguished actress from the UK, and nominated for her role in the Irish-produced Albert Noobs. She is also the only repeat nominee in the group. Bérénice Bejo was nominated for one of the most underplayed roles in history in an almost-silent film, while McCarthy punched her Oscar ticket with perhaps the most overplayed role of the 21st Century in a wretched film.

Will Win: Octavia Spencer, The Help. This race is too close to call really; Spencer, McTeer and Bejo all could get it. Jessica Chastain had three great performances this year, but her turn in The Help wasn’t at the top of the list (see below). So give it to Spencer, for playing both a very serious and extremely funny role in the film.

Should Win: Frankly, Jessica Chastain’s best performance of the year came in a little film called Take Shelter, which she was not nominated for. Again, would be just fine with Bejo here as well. McTeer is great in the average Albert Noobs, but she’s about a half-step behind the other two.

Snubbed: Tie: Shailene Woodley, The Descendants and Keira Knightly, A Dangerous Method. Woodley was the winner of the Left Field Performance of the year, coming from an ABC Family television show to become a scene-stealer opposite George Clooney (also nominated). Keira Knightly continues to be one of the most underappreciated actresses in modern film history and was completely overlooked for her wonderful performance.

Overhyped: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids. McCarthy was the least subtle part of the god-awful Bridesmaids, and that’s really saying something. It’s pretty easy to make an ass of yourself in just about any situation. I once got drunk and walked into a wall while singing a Counting Crows song at the top of my lungs; where’s my Oscar?