Some of the best film performances of the decade have come from supporting actresses, notably the most recent winners of Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars. With the end of the decade approaching in a few years, it is time to consider which Oscar-winning performance will be remembered as the best of the 2010s. (For a refresher of all the past winners, click through our extensive Best Supporting Actress photo gallery above.)
Best Supporting Actress has gone to both veterans who have been in the business for a long time and newcomers who are just getting started. Veterans who finally found the perfect role include Patricia Arquette, Viola Davis, Anne Hathaway, Melissa Leo and Octavia Spencer. Meanwhile, newcomers such as Lupita Nyong’o and Alicia Vikander proved they were capable of greatness from the jump and were lucky enough to be rewarded in kind.
So who do you consider the greatest Best Supporting Actress winner of the 2010s? Take a look back at each of their performances, and then be sure to vote in our poll below.
Melissa Leo — “The Fighter” (2010)
Leo famously mounted her own campaign for “The Fighter” and it paid off. Playing the boisterous “momager” Alice Eklund-Ward in the film, Leo sports a thick Boston accent and a spunky spirit typical of many New England moms. Leo’s presence in “The Fighter” looms large even in the masculine world of boxing, to the point that she overcome vote-splitting with co-star Amy Adams.
Octavia Spencer — “The Help” (2011)
Another case of vote-splitting not being a factor was Spencer’s win for “The Help,” who competed and won against co-star Jessica Chastain. Spencer swept award season with her classic, scene-stealing role as Minny Jackson, a blunt maid living in the South in the ‘60s with expertise in making a particular kind of pie. Spencer would later go on to earn another nomination in Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “Hidden Figures” (2016).
Anne Hathaway — “Les Misérables” (2012)
Hathaway’s statuette was practically engraved before anyone saw a second of “Les Miserables” due to the baity nature of her material. As Fantine, Hathaway’s screen time is limited but she does have that one undeniable scene — the “I Dreamed a Dream” performance. Sung live on-set, this one song likely made her sweep award season including the Oscar, where Hathaway proclaimed in her speech, “It came true.”
Lupita Nyong’o — “12 Years a Slave” (2013)
Speaking of dreams coming true, Nyong’o’s Oscar victory was a poignant case of someone’s dream coming true at the start of their career. Nyong’o’s heart-wrenching performance as Pastey, an abused slave, in “12 Years a Slave” is her feature film debut, and the industry fell in love with her talent. She joined an exclusive club of just 15 other actors who have won Oscars for their debut performance.
Patricia Arquette — “Boyhood” (2014)
Arquette wiped the floor with the Best Supporting Actress prizes leading up to her Oscar win. The actress delivers one of the most unique performances in cinema history as Olivia Evans in “Boyhood,” considering the movie was filmed over the course of 12 years, and we watch her age onscreen. Arquette chose a naturalistic approach for her character, a down-to-earth mother who just wants what’s best for her children.
Alicia Vikander — “The Danish Girl” (2015)
Vikander prevailed after a huge breakout year in 2015, which saw her win attention not only for “The Danish Girl” but for “Ex Machina” as well. In “The Danish Girl” she plays an archetypical suffering wife role as Gerda Wegener, but she rises above convention and gives a thoughtful, emotionally raw performance. Some accused Vikander of category fraud considering she has substantial screen time in the film, but a good performance is a good performance no matter the category.
Viola Davis — “Fences” (2016)
The most recent Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress is Davis, who wears her heart entirely on her sleeve in “Fences.” As Rose Maxson, Davis goes toe-to-toe with Denzel Washington throughout the film, especially in her one epic monologue about where her devotion to her husband has gotten her. Like Vikander, Davis has a great number of scenes in “Fences” and she manages to steal pretty much all of them with her captivating performance.
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.