‘Widows’ scene-stealer Elizabeth Debicki is an Oscar dark horse for Best Supporting Actress

You may know Elizabeth Debicki from “The Great Gatsby” (2013), AMC’s limited series “The Night Manager” (2016) or most likely, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017), as Ayesha, the gold-skinned High Priestess of the Sovereign. But now she is stealing the show in “Widows,” which could help her steal a spot in the Best Supporting Actress Oscar lineup.

Time and time again we’ve seen the academy recognize performers for breakthrough roles. For instance:

1. Timothée Chalamet: nominated for Best Actor for “Call Me By Your Name” (2017)
2. Daniel Kaluuya: nominated for Best Actor for “Get Out” (2017)
3. Lucas Hedges: nominated for Best Supporting Actor for “Manchester By the Sea” (2016)
4. Ruth Negga: nominated for Best Actress for “Loving” (2016)
5. Brie Larson: won Best Actress for “Room” (2015)
6. Alicia Vikander: won Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl” (2015)
7. Felicity Jones: nominated for Best Actress for “The Theory of Everything” (2014)
8. Eddie Redmayne: won Best Actor for “The Theory of Everything” (2014)
9. Barkhad Abdi: nominated for Best Supporting Actor for “Captain Phillips” (2013)
10. Lupita Nyong’o: won Best Supporting Actress for “12 Years a Slave” (2013)

Based on Lynda La Plante’s ’80s TV crime drama of the same name and directed by Steve McQueen (“Hunger,” “12 Years a Slave”), who also co-wrote the screenplay with Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl,” “Sharp Objects”), “Widows” opens with a heist gone wrong that leaves four robbers dead. Veronica Rawlins (Viola Davis) rounds up the robbers’ widows — Debicki plays widow Alice Gunner — after finding out that her late husband (Liam Neeson) owes crime boss Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) $2 million. Trouble awaits if the the sum isn’t paid within two weeks, forcing the women to take matters into their own hands.

SEE ‘Widows’ director Steve McQueen on using a heist movie to explore ‘politics, policing, religion’ and more [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Debicki has been lauded by critics for her performance as Alice, who starts off meek and nervous before morphing into a confident, savvy force of nature. Brian Tellerico (RogerEbert.com) calls this her “breakthrough role” that “nearly allows her to steal the film.“ Kate Stables (Total Film) says “the biggest surprise is Debicki, digging courage and ingenuity from battered Alice by masquerading as a mail-order bride to grab Glocks and other vital assets.“ Christopher Schobert (Film Stage) states that “alongside Davis, the standout player is Elizabeth Debicki, who brings pathos and humor.“

Academy voters love to recognize revelatory performances, all the better if the actors have also built up goodwill with a great body of work. While “Widows” is arguably her breakthrough project, Debicki isn’t necessarily a new face to the industry, having made her film debut in 2011 in “A Few Best Men.” What may help her is that she gets to show off her versatility in “Widows” as a battered, deflated widow, especially as it’s vastly different from other roles she’s taken on recently. So far, the only industry recognition she’s received is a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for “The Night Manager” in 2016.

That being said, she has some stiff competition. In our combined Oscar odds, she’s currently in 12th place with odds of 100/1, while Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), Amy Adams (“Vice”), Emma Stone (“The Favourite”), Claire Foy (“First Man”) and Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”) are the projected nominees.

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Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.

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