Oscars 2012: Best Supporting Actress and Actor Predictions

The best supporting actors steal scenes. When a film focuses on its central character and his or her predicament, these are the performers who snatch that attention for that brief moment they enter the frame. Perhaps the moments aren’t brief, sometimes they can be quite long, but there’s always that lightbulb that goes off when you witness a great supporting performance. Here are this year’s nominees with chance-to-win percentage breakdowns.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

  • (11%) Bérénice Bejo – “The Artist”
  • (17%) Jessica Chastain – “The Help”
  • (17%) Melissa McCarthy – “Bridesmaids”
  • (5%) Janet McTeer – “Albert Nobbs”
  • (50%) Octavia Spencer – “The Help”

Prediction: Octavia Spencer

Having gobbled up the other accolades this year, Octavia Spencer is the frontrunner and expected winner without a shred of doubt, and she deserves it for playing Minnie, as honest and real as she is feisty. That doesn’t mean, however, that she’s heads and tails above the competition.

For one, Jessica Chastain was said to be on even footing with Spencer when it became clear both would be nominated for “The Help.” Had that film not been such an ensemble effort with so many powerhouse performances, Chastain would have stood out and perhaps even been the frontrunner, even ahead of Melissa McCarthy, who won a number of critics association awards.

McCarthy’s miss at a Golden Globe nomination shows the chink in her viability as a contender. The “movement” to honor her this awards season appears to come more from fad than anything else. Zach Galifianakis took the movie world by storm with “The Hangover,” but that didn’t get him squat. It’s as if McCarthy’s ability to be a humorous character actor took everyone by surprise. I think she deserves commendation for being terrific in the film, but the Oscar nomination feels disingenuous. It seems to me like people felt she deserved to be honored, as opposed to her actually deserving the honor.

Bérénice Bejo gets a leg up for being in the undisputed film of the year in “The Artist.” Bejo fit the role of naive and optimist aspiring starlet to a “T” and was simply captivating, but she didn’t offer as many wowing dramatic moments that tend to make winners in this category.

Janet McTeer is this year’s “happy to be there” nominee. Although I don’t doubt the many who say she was better than Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs,” the film about women posing as men to be bulters was the least celebrated of the four represented in this category and McTeer is still an unknown quantity at this point.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

  • (10%) Kenneth Branagh – “My Week with Marilyn”
  • (6%) Jonah Hill – “Moneyball”
  • (5%) Nick Nolte – “Warrior”
  • (67%) Christopher Plummer – “Beginners”
  • (12%) Max von Sydow – “Extremely Loud & Increibly Close”

Prediction: Christopher Plummer

Best Supporting Actor seems to be an annual lock. Although many times it’s a strong category, the winner always seems undisputed. Was there ever a shred of doubt that Christian Bale, Christoph Waltz, Heath Ledger or Javier Bardem would win this award? You have to go back to perhaps 2007 when Alan Arkin (“Little Miss Sunshine”) beat Eddie Murphy (“Dreamgirls”) to find a tight race. That said, add a third straight variation on a Christ name to the winner’s list in this category because it belongs to Christopher Plummer.

You won’t hear me say Plummer’s performance was the best of the year, especially because I’ve not yet seen “Beginners,” but once Albert Brooks didn’t receive a nomination, Plummer lost all his competition based on who was winning all the previous awards. Plummer won the SAG and the Globe and he’s a venerated actor who came on his twilight years. It doesn’t hurt that he’s playing a dying man who has recently told his son he’s gay. The old fuddy-duds at the Academy will be happy to award him a prize.

It should also not surprise you that two other older actors in Max von Sydow and Nick Nolte received nominations. Although Von Sydow’s film received a Best Picture nomination, it’s the weakest nominee in the Best Picture race in ages. Nolte’s film, “Warrior,” hardly made a peep at the box office back in September. Von Sydow’s silent performance and lengthy filmmaking career gives him the second best shot to win, but that’s not saying much.

Jonah Hill must feel really awkward surrounded by those four names. Baseball/stats nerd Peter Brand is by far his best role ever and in a good movie deserving of its many nods, but he’s in way over his head.

If anyone might’ve stood out in a different year with younger competition, it would be Kenneth Branagh. He’s not enough to pull attention away from Michelle Williams’ incredibly Marilyn Monroe, but he has all kinds of moments and truly wears the star persona of a Lawrence Olivier.


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