What does hot new star Berenice Bejo have in common with Kate Winslet and Keisha Castle-Hughes? Like those two ladies, she may find herself with an Academy Award nomination in the lead actress category this Tuesday rather than the supporting race for which she has been campaigning.
Bejo, a French actress starring as Peppy Miller in the black-and-white silent film sensation “The Artist,” has enjoyed supporting nods from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and Broadcast Film Critics in recent weeks. However, due to her large amount of screen time and importance to the plot, this week the British Academy nominated her in the lead actress category at the BAFTA Awards.
Oscar voters have already turned in their ballots, but they have been known to go their own way over the years when nominating performers. Even though Winslet (“The Reader,” 2008) and Castle-Hughes (“Whale Rider,” 2003) were positioned as supporting actresses, the Oscars nominated them as leads because they were major forces in their films. In effect, Winslet knocked herself out of a lead nod for “Revolutionary Road” that year but ultimately claimed the Oscar anyway.
Keep in mind that Academy voters do not have ready-made ballots like many groups where names are already listed in certain categories. They are blank, meaning the names must be written into the slots where the voters feel like they belong.
Is it possible that we have been projecting Bejo into a supporting slot for the past few months when academy voters have a whole other plan up their sleeves? Viola Davis (“The Help”), Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”), and Michelle Williams (“My Week with Marilyn“) seem to have their lead spots secured. However, Glenn Close (“Albert Nobbs”) and Tilda Swinton (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”) need to watch their backs just in case a young French actress steals away their prized Oscar nod.