This year’s Oscar race for Best Supporting Actress is a real nail-biter… or a real nail-smeller in the case of Jennifer Lawrence‘s character from “American Hustle.” Last year’s Best Actress champ (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave“) lead the closest acting race in the derby.
Indeed, theirs is the only one of the four acting categories that has seen more than one winner prevail at the precursors. In other words, there may well be three “locks” this year: Best Actor Matthew McConaughey” (“Dallas Buyers Club“), Best Actress Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine“) and Best Supporting Actor Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”).
While Lawrence claimed the Golden Globe, Nyong’o won the Critics’ Choice and SAG Award. And while the BAFTAs are still three weeks away, Nyong’o is the early favorite there. (Keep track of who’s won what award this derby season.)
As for the Oscars, Gold Derby polling currently finds Nyong’o favored to win with 3/10 odds with Lawrence in second place at 9/2. Third place is a tie between June Squibb (“Nebraska“) and Julia Roberts (“August: Osage County“) both with 50/1 odds, while this category’s longshot is surprise nominee Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine“) at 100/1.
The battle between Lawrence and Nyong’o is reminiscent of that Best Actress showdown from two years ago: a past Oscar winner (Meryl Streep, just like Lawrence) was locked in a tight race with the female star of a racially-themed period film (Viola Davis, just like Nyong’o).
Streep wound up winning the Oscar for “The Iron Lady,” but Davis of “The Help” made the race leading up to that big night one to remember, as the ladies flip-flopped at many of the precursor kudos. Streep won at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs; Davis prevailed at both the SAG and Critics’ Choice Awards.
Oscar voters are clearly head-over-heels about Lawrence, as they awarded her Best Actress last year and nominated her three years ago in that category for “Winter’s Bone.” And a win for Lawrence could be the only place where Oscar voters can show their support for “American Hustle,” a film they nominated 10 times.
As for Nyong’o, the academy loves putting unknown stars on the map. In fact, voters have awarded 15 Oscars to those making their film debuts. Nyong’o’s winning moment could be that devastating scene when Michael Fassbender‘s villain whips her character.
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