Oscars: Best Supporting Actress – The Nominees are…
When the nominations for the 2016 Academy Awards were announced in January, the question on everybody’s lips was not about whether or not this is the year Leonardo DiCaprio will get his (little gold) man, but rather why were there only white contenders in all four acting categories? And for the second year running?
The diversity controversy saw Jada Pinkett Smith announce that she would be boycotting this year’s awards, followed closely by husband Will Smith, who many were surprised wasn’t nominated for his role in Concussion, having been so for the Golden Globes. Other notable omissions included Idris Elba, widely expected to be nominated for Beasts of No Nation, and Creed star, Michael B. Jordan, whose co-star, Sylvester Stallone, received a Best Supporting Actor nod. Creed’s Black writer and director, Ryan Coogler, was also ignored. This is the second year all the nominees in the four acting categories have been white. Last year, the Martin Luther King biopic Selma was up for Best Picture but no recognition for its star, David Oyelowo, nor it’s female director, Ava DuVernay. The situation escalated when other minority groups added their voices – the LGBT community, Latinos, women – and called for better representation within the academy.
The debate continues to rage – and rightly so – but while we applaud the steps taken, let’s not forget that there are still some very deserving names in the running for this year’s awards.
In the first of a short series, we take a look at the nominees, beginning with:
Best Supporting Actress – The Contenders
Rooney Mara in Carol
Native New Yorker Mara is the daughter of NFL football team New York Giants Chief Exec, Timothy Christopher Mara. Having cut her teeth on TV dramas, such as ER & Law & Order, Mara first grabbed the attention of cinema goers when she starred as Nancy in the 2010 remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street, and was catapulted to stardom when she played Lisbeth Sander – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – opposite Daniel Craig. It won her a Leading Actress nominations at the 2012 Oscars and audiences will see her in no less than six films in 2016. It has just been announced that Mara will take the title role in the new biopic of Mary Magdalene, due out in in 2017.
We say: Could be a surprise winner
Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl
Swedish Vikander has enjoyed a somewhat meteoric rise to fame over the past couple of years. Named as a European Film Rising Star in 2011, she first grabbed audience’s attention in 2012’s Anna Karenina and A Royal Affair. She appeared in the Julian Assange biopic The Fifth Estate in 2013 but, in the UK, a double whammy release of Testament of Youth and the critically acclaimed Ex-Machina, in which she plays an A.I., made film fans really sit up and take note. Her role as painter Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl, opposite Eddie Redmayne, sees her riding a current crest of success and popularity. Later this year she will star alongside Matt Damon in the new Bourne sequel, and in The Light Between Oceans, with her current squeeze, Michael Fassbender.
We say: Very much the woman of the moment, in a very worthy, critically-acclaimed role. Could be.
Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight
The comeback queen of the pack, Leigh readily admits she was about to throw in the towel before Tarantino came a-calling. The veteran actress – she amazingly turns 54 this month – is Hollywood royalty, being both born there and to parents in the industry: mum is actress and screenwriter Barbara Turner, and dad was actor Vic Morrow, who infamously died on the set of The Twilight Zone in 1983, after a helicopter stunt went wrong. Leigh has been acting since she was nine years old and, as a teenager, attended summer workshops with Lee Strasberg, the father of method acting. Known for edgy, cult roles – her big break was 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, starring Sean Penn and written by Cameron Crowe – she’s appeared in movies by Robert Altman and had a big hit with thriller Single White Female in 1992. Despite this pedigree and CV, Leigh’s last film of note was 2007’s Margot at the Wedding.
We say: Oscar does love its prodigal sons. And daughters.
Rachel McAdams in Spotlight
The sweetheart of the group, Canadian born McAdams is a regular girl, with a truck driver father and her mother a nurse. McAdams came up through TV roles before playing ‘plastic’ Regina in the surprise hit comedy Mean Girls in 2004, followed by another surprise hit, The Notebook, in the same year. Co-starring with Ryan Gosling, the film became every girl’s go-to tear jerker. A host of movies followed, including The Wedding Crashers, Red Eye and Sherlock Holmes, along with the inevitable romantic movies, including the big screen adaptations of The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Vow. She was also Jon Favreau’s first choice for Pepper Potts in the Iron Man movies, but she turned him down, forcing him to make do with Gwyneth Paltrow instead.
We say: Now she’s back in the spotlight (see what we did there?) after a little while away, this might be Oscar’s moment to remind her how much she’s loved
Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs
The old hand at the Oscars game, Winslet could well be turning into the new Meryl Streep. Barely 40, the Brit already has a leading actress award for 2008’s Revolutionary Road, but has been nominated a massive seven times, a tally that began with a nod in 1995 for Sense and Sensibility. Is there nothing that this woman has not done? From Shakespeare (she was Ophelia in Hamlet in 1996) and other literary adaptations (Jude, Hideous Kinky), she’s done indie (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Quills, Cigarettes & Alcohol), outrageous comedy (Movie 43), animation (A Christmas Carol), and starred as the young Iris Murdoch in the biopic Iris. And then there’s the small matter of a big film about a big ship.
We say: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Oscar knows what it’s getting with Ms Winslet.
The 88th Academy Awards take place on Sunday 28th February, 2016.