Oscar mystery: Are we underestimating Kate Winslet (‘Steve Jobs’) for Best Supporting Actress?

While Alicia Vikander is the overwhelming front-runner to win Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl,” I can’t help but wonder if she could lose to Kate Winslet in “Steve Jobs.” Winslet just added a BAFTA win to her Golden Globe, rivaling the SAG and BFCA awards Vikander has collected.

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Both times Winslet won, she was not in direct competition with Vikander in “The Danish Girl” as both the Globes and BAFTA ruled her performance in that film a lead, allowing her to land an additional nomination for “Ex-Machina” in supporting. Vikander failed to win either of her bids from both groups, losing in lead to Oscar front-runner Brie Larson (“Room”). Had she been put in supporting for “The Danish Girl” instead of “Ex-Machina,” would Winslet have won her two trophies? After all, anytime Vikander was placed in her “proper” category, she prevailed.

Vikander is the star on the rise, with a whopping six films released in 2015, including fellow Oscar-nominee “Ex-Machina,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “Burnt,” “Testament of Youth,” and “Seventh Son.” A piece of gold hardware would be the perfect way to reward her banner year. The actress won praises from critics as Eddie Redmayne’s long-suffering wife, the same kind of role that brought awards glory to the likes of Harden and Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind” [2001]).
Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times) observed, “Though much of the acting attention in ‘Danish Girl’ will understandably go to Redmayne, Vikander’s position as the audience surrogate plus her energy and passion as Gerda, a woman facing an exceptional challenge to her love for her husband, is more than essential.”

Winslet won the Best Actress trophy for “The Reader” (2008) after five losses for “Sense and Sensibility” (1995), “Titanic” (1997), “Iris” (2001), “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004), and “Little Children” (2006). Its been seven years since that win so voters have had time to miss seeing her on stage. Critics applauded Winslet’s transformation into the tech-giant’s long-suffering assistant. David Ehrlich (Time Out) praised the actress as “steady and brilliant,” while Soren Anderson (Seattle Times) said, “Winslet is terrific, fearlessly pushing back and calling Jobs out on his often heartless behavior.”

UPDATED: Oscar odds and rankings by Experts in all 24 categories

Three of our 26 experts — Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair), Matthew Jacobs (HuffPo) and Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) — are predicting Winslet for the win. Travers has one of the best averages of the past four years when it comes to predicting, with 77.25% overall accuracy, while Hogan has a whopping 81% average over the last three years and 75% last year. Jacobs in a new expert in our lineup.

This Supporting Actress race closely resembles one from two years ago, when “American Hustle’s” Jennifer Lawrence went toe-to-toe with Lupita Nyongo in “12 Years a Slave.” Lawrence, who had won Best Actress the year before for “Silver Linings Playbook,” had the potential to become the sixth person in Oscar history (after Luise Rainer, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Jason Robards, and Tom Hanks), to win back-to-back acting awards. After collecting the Golden Globe and BAFTA, it seemed possible. Nyongo was a fresh face to voters, making her film debut, and ultimately won the Oscar after triumphing at SAG and the BFCA.

There is plenty of precedent for an upset in this category. 

Click here to see ups and downs of Oscar races over entire awards season

Marcia Gay Harden was the first to win Oscar without a corresponding SAG nomination or a Globe nod, for that matter for playing the long-suffering wife to Jackson Pollock (Ed Harris) in “Pollock” (2000). The only piece of hardware she’d picked up during the season was from the NYFCC. That was a wide-open race that saw the Globe go to Kate Hudson (“Almost Famous”), SAG to Judi Dench (“Chocolat”), BAFTA to Julie Walters (“Billy Elliot”), and the BFCA, LA, Boston, and Chicago Film Critics all aligning with Frances McDormand (“Almost Famous”).

Lauren Bacall looked all but certain to collect her veteran-achievement award for “The Mirror Has Two Faces” in 1996. However she lost to Juliette Binoche who appeared in the Best Picture winner “The English Patient.” Bacall had triumphed at the Globes and SAG while Binoche won at BAFTA, paving the way for a repeat at the Oscars.

Tilda Swinton benefited from a wide-open race when she won for “Michael Clayton” (2007). The actress had only a BAFTA win as any indication of strength, besting SAG victor Ruby Dee (“American Gangster”), Globe winner Cate Blanchett (“I’m Not There”), BFCA, LAFCA and NYFCC champ Amy Ryan (“Gone Baby Gone”), and one of this years Best Actress contenders, Saoirse Ronan (“Atonement”).

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Photo Credits: “Steve Jobs” (Universal)

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