While the Best Supporting Actress Oscar is often awarded to an ingenue, it can also be a way to reward a more season performer who has been overlooked by the academy in the past. Indeed, that is just what happened last year when Viola Davis took home this Oscar for her performance in “Fences” five years after losing the Best Actress race to Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”) when she had contended for “The Help.” (Scroll down for the most up-to-date predictions for this year’s Best Supporting Actress race.)
Davis had won a Tony Award up in lead for her work in the 2010 revival of this acclaimed August Wilson play. At the start of awards season, it had been thought she would contend in the top category at the Oscars too for the film version. However, in the late fall she made the savvy move down to supporting and her substantial role was rewarded by academy voters.
Contending in the featured rather than lead category had proven to be a winning strategy for the two most recent winners of this race as well — Hollywood newcomer Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl” and veteran actress Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood.”
Davis’ co-star from “The Help,” Emma Stone, was named Best Actress last year for “La La Land” and became the 32nd of the 81 Best Actress winners to be in their 20s when they picked up their prizes. By comparison, only 17 of the 81 Supporting Actress winners to date have been under 30. Conversely, just two Best Actress victors have been in their 50s while it is six for supporting, including Davis.
While 34 of the Best Actress winners were thirtysomething, this is true of just 26 of the supporting actress champs. However, only 14 of the Best Actress winners have been in their 40s compared to 23 of the supporting ones.
Five of the Best Actress winners were in their 60s (Katharine Hepburn won twice at that age) as were four in Supporting Actress. Hepburn is also the only Best Actress winner to be in her 70s while five women of this age have done so in supporting. Jessica Tandy was the lone champ in her 80s, having hit that milestone almost a year before she won Best Actress for “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1990.
Please note: Only those films with confirmed release dates are listed below. Check back often as new contenders are scheduled while other are dropped due to delays or critical reaction. Several contenders are also included in the Best Actress round-up, pending confirmation of campaign strategies.
UPDATED: November 6, 2017
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound” (Netflix)
Hong Chau, “Downsizing” (Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures)
Penelope Cruz, “Murder on the Orient Express” (20th Century Fox)
Carrie Fisher, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Walt Disney Pictures)
Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick” (Amazon Studios)
Melissa Leo, “Novitiate” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread” (Annapurna Pictures/Focus Features)
Julia Roberts, “Wonder” (Lionsgate)
Kristin Scott Thomas, “Darkest Hour” (Universal Studios/Focus Features)
Keala Settle, “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox)
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight Picture)
Michelle Williams, “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox)
Kristen Dunst, “The Beguiled” (Focus Features/Gramercy Pictures)
Nicole Kidman, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (A24)
Kate Hudson, “Marshall” (Open Road Films)
Julianne Moore, “Wonderstruck” (Amazon Studios)
Tatiana Maslany, “Stronger” (Lionsgate)
Brooklynn Prince, “The Florida Project” (A24)
Andrea Riseborough, “Battle of the Sexes” (Fox Searchlight)
Margot Robbie, “Goodbye, Christopher Robin” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Millicent Simmonds, “Wonderstruck” (Amazon Studios)
Tilda Swinton, “Okja” (Netflix)
Juno Temple, “Wonder Wheel” (Amazon Studios)
Kristen Wiig, “Downsizing” (Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures)
Berenice Bejo, “Redoubtable” (Studio Canal)
Carmen Ejogo, “Roman Israel, Esq.” (Columbia)
Elle Fanning, “The Beguiled” (Focus Features/Gramercy Pictures)
Rebecca Ferguson, “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox)
Catherine Keener, “Get Out” (Universal)
Riley Keough, “Logan Lucky” (Bleecker Street/FilmNation Entertainment)
Zosia Mamet, “Under the Silver Lake” (A24)
Julianne Moore, “Suburbicon” (Paramount Pictures)
Cathy Moriarty, “Patti Cake$” (Fox Searchlight)
Hannah Murray, “Detroit” (Annapurna Pictures)
Amy Schumer, “Thank You for Your Service” (Dreamworks)
Emma Thompson, “Beauty and the Beast” (Walt Disney Pictures)
Zendaya, “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox)
UPDATED: November 6, 2017
Several past Best Supporting Actress champs are hoping to become the third owner of bookends following in the footsteps of Shelley Winters and Dianne Wiest. Melissa Leo picked up this prize in 2010 for “The Fighter” and is back in contention for “Novitiate.” The 2011 winner, Octavia Spencer (“The Help”), is in the running for “The Shape of Water.” And 2008 champ Penelope Cruz (“Vicky Christina Barcelona”) takes on the role in “Murder on the Orient Express” that won Ingrid Bergman this award in 1974.
Bergman was already a two-time Best Actress champ when she prevailed in this race. Among those looking to join her in that exclusive club of six winners of both awards are: Holly Hunter (“The Piano,” 1993) who steals all of her scenes in “The Big Sick”; Julianne Moore (“Still Alice,” 2014) for the upcoming “Suburbicon”; and Julia Roberts (“Erin Brockovich,” 2000) for her heartbreaking performance as a protective mother in “Wonder.”
In the coming weeks and months, we will be predicting all 24 of the competitive categories at the Oscars.
Best Picture | Best Director | Best Original Screenplay | Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Actor | Best Actress | Best Supporting Actor | Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography | Best Costume Design | Best Film Editing | Best Production Design
Best Makeup & Hairstyling | Best Sound Editing | Best Sound Mixing | Best Visual Effects
Best Original Score | Best Original Song
Best Animated Feature | Best Documentary Feature | Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Short | Best Documentary Short | Best Live-Action Short