Oscars 2013 Category Breakdown: Best Supporting Actress

Every year, leading up to the Oscars, I break down every single category. It’s essentially a precursor to my picks. I explain all the stuff that needs to be explained in detail, so when the time comes to make my picks, I can refer to it as a shorthand.

In the articles, I’ll go over each category’s history, show previous winners and nominees, then list the current year’s nominees, talk about the guild history, if it’s important, what the guilds went with this year, whether that means anything for that particular category — all the background you need to know to make an informed decision. And then, once that’s all done, I’ll rank the nominees in that category in order of their likelihood to win, based on how I see it at the present.

The only difference between this year and previous years is that this year, I’ll be doing only one category a day instead of multiple categories. This is so I can take more time with each category and not stuff a bunch into a single article for information overload, and, simply, so I don’t have to do as much work. Though it is also easier this way. One category, one day.

Today, we’re doing Best Supporting Actress, which seems like it has an obvious winner, but we still have to sweat it down to the wire, just because we’re never quite sure if the Academy will revert back to “safe” choices.


Best Supporting Actress Winners

Other Nominees


Gale Sondergaard, Anthony Adverse

Beulah Bondi, The Gorgeous Hussy

Alice Brady, My Man Godfrey

Bonita Granville, These Three

Maria Ouspenskaya, Dodsworth


Alice Brady, In Old Chicago

Andrea Leeds, Stage Door

Anne Shirley, Stella Dallas

Claire Trevor, Dead End

Dame May Whitty, Night Must Fall


Fay Bainter, Jezebel

Beulah Bondi, Of Human Hearts

Billie Burke, Merrily We Live

Spring Byington, You Can’t Take It With You

Miliza Korjus, The Great Waltz


Hattie McDaniel, Gone With the Wind

Olivia de Havilland, Gone With the Wind

Geraldine Fitzgerald, Wuthering Heights

Edna May Oliver, Drums Along the Mohawk

Maria Ouspenskaya, Love Affair


Jane Darwell, The Grapes of Wrath

Judith Anderson, Rebecca

Ruth Hussey, The Philadelphia Story

Barbara O’Neil, All This, and Heaven Too

Marjorie Rambeau, Primrose Path


Mary Astor, The Great Lie

Sarah Allgood, How Green Was My Valley

Patricia Collinge, The Little Foxes

Teresa Wright, The Little Foxes

Margaret Wycherly, Sergeant York


Teresa Wright, Mrs. Miniver

Gladys Cooper, Now, Voyager

Susan Peters, Random Harvest

Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons

Dame May Whitty, Mrs. Miniver


Katrina Paxinou, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Gladys Cooper, The Song of Bernadette

Paulette Goddard, So Proudly We Hail!

Anne Revere, The Song of Bernadette

Lucille Watson, Watch on the Rhine


Ethel Barrymore, None But the Lonely Heart

Jennifer Jones, Since You Went Away

Angela Lansbury, Gaslight

Aline MacMahon, Dragon Seed

Agnes Moorehead, Mrs. Parkington


Anne Revere, National Velvet

Eve Arden, Mildred Pierce

Ann Blyth, Mildred Pierce

Angela Lansbury, The Picture of Dorian Grey

Joan Lorring, The Corn is Green


Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge

Ethel Barrymore, The Spiral Staircase

Lillian Gish, Duel in the Sun

Flora Robson, Saratoga Trunk

Gale Sondergaard, Anna and the King of Siam


Celeste Holm, Gentleman’s Agreement

Ethel Barrymore, The Paradine Case

Gloria Grahame, Crossfire

Marjoria Main, The Egg and I

Anne Revere, Gentleman’s Agreement


Claire Trevor, Key Largo

Barbara Bel Geddes, I Remember Mama

Ellen Corby, I Remember Mama

Agnes Moorehead, Johnny Belinda

Jean Simmons, Hamlet


Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men

Ethel Barrymore, Pinky

Celeste Holm, Come to the Stable

Elsa Lanchester, Come to the Stable

Ethel Waters, Pinky


Josephine Hull, Harvey

Hope Emerson, Caged

Celeste Holm, All About Eve

Susan Olson, Sunset Boulevard

Thelma Ritter, All About Eve


Kim Hunter, A Streetcar Named Desire

Joan Blondell, The Blue Veil

Mildred Dunnock, Death of a Salesman

Lee Grant, Detective Story

Thelma Ritter, The Mating Season


Gloria Grahame, The Bad and the Beautiful

Jean Hagan, Singin’ in the Rain

Collette Marchand, Moulin Rouge

Terry Moore, Come Back, Little Sheba

Thelma Ritter, With a Song in My Heart


Donna Reed, From Here to Eternity

Grace Kelly, Mogambo

Geraldine Page, Hondo

Marjorie Rambeau, Torch Song

Thelma Ritter, Pickup on South Street


Eva Marie Saint, On the Waterfront

Nina Foch, Executive Suite

Katy Jurado, Executive Suite

Jan Sterling, The High and the Mighty

Claire Trevor, The High and the Mighty


Jo Van Fleet, East of Eden

Betsy Blair, Marty

Peggy Lee, Pete Kelly’s Blues

Marisa Pavan, The Rose Tattoo

Natalie Wood, Rebel Without a Cause


Dorothy Malone, Written on the Wind

Midred Dunnock, Baby Doll

Eileen Heckart, The Bad Seed

Mercedes McCambridge, Giant

Patty McCormack, The Bad Seed


Miyoshi Umeki, Sayonara

Carolyn Jones, The Bachelor Party

Elsa Lanchester, Witness for the Prosecution

Hope Lange, Peyton Place

Diane Varsi, Peyton Place


Wendy Hiller, Separate Tables

Peggy Cass, Autie Mame

Martha Hyer, Some Came Running

Maureen Stapleton, Lonelyhearts

Cara Williams, The Defiant Ones


Shelley Winters, The Diary of Anne Frank

Hermione Baddeley, Room at the Top

Susan Kohner, Imitation of Life

Juanita Moore, Imitation of Life

Thelma Ritter, Pillow Talk


Shirley Jones, Elmer Gantry

Glynis Johns, The Sundowners

Shirley Knight, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

Janet Leigh, Psycho

Mary Ure, Sons and Lovers


Rita Moreno, West Side Story

Fay Bainter, The Children’s Hour

Judy Garland, Judgment at Nuremberg

Lotte Lenya, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone

Una Merkel, Summer and Smoke


Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker

Mary Badham, To Kill a Mockingbird

Shirley Knight, Sweet Bird of Youth

Angela Lansbury, The Manchurian Candidate

Thelma Ritter, Birdman of Alcatraz


Margaret Rutherford, The V.I.P.s

Diane Cilento, Tom Jones

Edith Evans, Tom Jones

Joyce Redman, Tom Jones

Lilia Skala, Lilies of the Field


Lila Kedrova, Zorba the Greek

Gladys Cooper, My Fair Lady

Edith Evans, The Chalk Garden

Grayson Hall, The Night of the Iguana

Agnes Moorehead, Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte


Shelley Winters, A Patch of Blue

Ruth Gordon, Inside Daisy Clover

Joyce Redman, Othello

Maggie Smith, Othello

Peggy Wood, The Sound of Music


Sandy Dennis, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Wendy Hiller, A Man for All Seasons

Jocelyne LaGarde, Hawaii

Vivien Merchant, Alfie

Geraldine Page, You’re a Big Boy Now


Estelle Parsons, Bonnie and Clyde

Carol Channing, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Mildred Natwick, Barefoot in the Park

Beah Richards, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Katharine Ross, The Graduate


Ruth Gordon, Rosemary’s Babby

Lynn Carlin, Faces

Sondra Locke, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Kay Medford, Funny Girl

Estelle Parsons, Rachel, Rachel


Goldie Hawn, Cactus Flower

Cahterine Burns, Last Summer

Dyan Cannon, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

Sylvia Miles, Midnight Cowboy

Susanna York, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?


Helen Hayes, Airport

Karen Black, Five Easy Pieces

Lee Grant, The Landlord

Sally Kellerman, MASH

Maureen Stapleton, Airport


Cloris Leachman, The Last Picture Show

Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge

Ellen Burstyn, The Last Picture Show

Barbara Harris, Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?

Margaret Leighton, The Go-Between


Eileen Heckart, Butterflies are Free

Jeannie Berlin, The Heartbreak Kid

Geraldine Page, Pete ‘n’ Tillie

Susan Tyrrell, Fat City

Shelley Winters, The Poseidon Adventure


Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon

Linda Blair, The Exorcist

Candy Clark, American Graffiti

Madeline Kahn, Paper Moon

Sylvia Sidney, Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams


Ingrid Begman, Murder on the Orient Express

Valentina Cortese, Day for Night

Madeline Kahn, Blazing Saddles

Diane Ladd, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Talia Shire, The Godfather Part II


Lee Grant, Shampoo

Ronee Blakley, Nashville

Sylvia Miles, Farewell, My Lovely

Lily Tomlin, Nashville

Brenda Vaccaro, Jacqueline Susann’s Once is Not Enough


Beatrice Straight, Network

Jane Alexander, All the President’s Men

Jodie Foster, Taxi Driver

Lee Grant, Voyage of the Damned

Piper Laurie, Carrie


Vanessa Redgrave, Julia

Leslie Browne, The Turning Point

Quinn Cummings, The Goodbye Girl

Melinda Dillon, Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Tuesday Weld, Looking for Mr. Goodbar


Maggie Smith, California Suite

Dyan Cannon, Heaven Can Wait

Penelope Milford, Coming Home

Maureen Stapleton, Interiors

Meryl Streep, The Deer Hunter


Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer

Jane Alexander, Kramer vs. Kramer

Barbara Barrie, Breaking Away

Candice Bergen, Starting Over

Mariel Heminway, Manhattan


Mary Steenburgen, Melvin and Howard

Eileen Brennan, Private Benjamin

Eva Le Gallienne, Resurrection

Cathy Moriarty, Raging Bull

Diana Scarwid, Inside Moves


Maureen Stapleton, Reds

Melinda Dillon, Absence of Malice

Jane Fonda, On Golden Pond

Joan Hackett, The Last Laugh

Elizabeth McGovern, Ragtime


Jessica Lange, Tootsie

Glenn Close, The World According to Garp

Teri Garr, Tootsie

Kim Stanley, Frances

Lesley Ann Warren, Victor Victoria


Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously

Cher, Silkwood

Glenn Close, The Big Chill

Amy Irving, Yentl

Alfre Woodard, Cross Creek


Peggy Ashcroft, A Passage to India

Glenn Close, The Natural

Lindsay Crouse, Places in the Heart

Christine Lahti, Swing Shift

Geraldine Page, The Pope of Greenwich Village


Anjelica Huston, Prizzi’s Honor

Margaret Avery, The Color Purple

Amy Madigan, Twice in a Lifetime

Meg Tilly, Agnes of God

Oprah Winfrey, The Color Purple


Dianne Wiest, Hannah and Her Sisters

Tess Harper, Crimes of the Heart

Piper Laurie, Children of a Lesser God

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, The Color of Money

Maggie Smith, A Room with a Vier


Olympia Dukakis, Moonstruck

Norma Aleandro, Gaby: A True Story

Anne Archer, Fatal Attraction

Anne Ramsey, Throw Momma from the Train

Ann Sothern, The Whales of August


Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist

Joan Cusack, Working Girl

Frances McDormand, Mississippi Burning

Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons

Sigourney Weaver, Working Girl


Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot

Anjelica Huston, Enemies, a Love Story

Lena Olin, Enemies, a Love Story

Julia Roberts, Steel Magnolias

Dianne Wiest, Parenthood


Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost

Annette Bening, The Grifters

Lorraine Bracco, Goodfellas

Diane Ladd, Wild at Heart

Mary McDonnell, Dances with Wolves


Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King

Diane Ladd, Rambling Rose

Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear

Kate Nelligan, The Prince of Tides

Jessica Tandy, Fried Green Tomatoes


Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny

Judy Davis, Husbands and Wives

Joan Plowright, Enchanted April

Vanessa Redgrave, Howards End

Miranda Richardson, Damage


Anna Paquin, The Piano

Holly Hunter, The Firm

Rosie Perez, Fearless

Winona Ryder, The Age of Innocence

Emma Thompson, In the Name of the Father


Dianne Wiest, Bullets over Broadway

Rosemary Harris, Tom & Viv

Helen Mirren, The Madness of King George

Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction

Jennifer Tilly, Bullets over Broadway


Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite

Joan Allen, Nixon

Kathleen Quinlan, Apollo 13

Mare Winningham, Georgia

Kate Winslet, Sense an Sensibility


Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

Joan Allen, The Crucible

Lauren Bacall, The Mirror Has Two Faces

Barbara Hershey, Portrait of a Lady

Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Secrets & Lies


Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential

Joan Cusack, In & Out

Minnie Driver, Good Will Hunting

Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights

Gloria Stuart, Titanic


Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love

Kathy Bates, Primary Colors

Brenda Blethyn, Little Voice

Rachel Griffiths, Hilary and Jackie

Lynn Redgrave, Gods and Monsterds


Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted

Toni Collette, The Sixth Sense

Catherine Keener, Being John Malkovich

Samantha Morton, Sweet and Lowdown

Chloe Sevigny, Boys Don’t Cry


Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

Judi Dench, Chocolat

Kate Hudson, Almost Famous

Frances McDormand, Almost Famous

Julie Walters, Billy Elliot


Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind

Helen Mirren, Gosford Park

Maggie Smith, Gosford Park

Marisa Tomei, In the Bedroom

Kate Winslet, Iris


Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

Kathy Bates, About Schmidt

Queen Latifah, Chicago

Julianne Moore, The Hours

Meryl Streep, Adaptation


Renée Zellweger, Cold Mountain

Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog

Patricia Clarkson, Pieces of April

Marcia Gay Harden, Mystic River

Holly Huntet, Thirteen


Cate Blanchett, The Aviator

Laura Linney, Kinsey

Virginia Madsen, Sideways

Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda

Natalie Portman, Closer


Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener

Amy Adams, Junebug

Catherine Keener, Capote

Frances McDormand, North Country

Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain


Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Adriana Barraza, Babel

Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal

Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine

Rinko Kikuchi, Babel


Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There

Ruby Dee, American Gangster

Saoirse Ronan, Atonement

Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone


Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Amy Adams, Doubt

Viola Davis, Doubt

Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler


Mo’Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

Penelope Cruz, Nine

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart

Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air


Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Amy Adams, The Fighter

Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Jackie Weaver, Animal Kingdom


Octavia Spencer, The Help

Berenice Bejo, The Artist

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs


Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

Amy Adams, The Master

Sally Field, Lincoln

Helen Hunt, The Sessions

Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Supporting Actress

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

June Squibb, Nebraska

The category went exactly as suspected, with Hawkins nabbing the fifth spot over Oprah. Those were pretty much the only six anyone considered for the nominations, so everything went pretty much according to plan. And I prefer the Hawkins nomination, so that’s something as well.

There’s also one more thing I want to share with you guys, before we get into the breakdown of the nominees, since this is the most applicable category for it, and it’ll be something I will bring up over the next three days, so might as well introduce the notion now.

In the history of the Academy Awards, only 14 films were nominated for all four acting awards. The Supporting categories were introduced in 1936, and since then, it’s only happened fourteen times. This is the fifteenth.

The first was in 1936. My Man Godfrey was nominated in all four categories. It lost all four.

The second was 1941. Mrs. Miniver. It won Actress and Supporting Actress, since, as you can tell by the title, it’s more of a female-driven film.

The third was 1944, For Whom the Bell Tolls. That won Supporting Actress. (It was also one of the weakest Supporting Actress categories of all time, to boot.)

The fourth was 1948, Johnny Belinda. That won Best Actress (and for my money, should have also won Supporting Actress).

The fifth was 1950, Sunset Boulevard. That walked away with nothing (José Ferrer won Best Actor that year, Judy Holliday won Best Actress, one of which is a strange decision, the other controversial. Supporting Actress was Josephine Hull and Supporting Actor was George Sanders. It really only had a shot at Actress, I feel.)

The sixth was 1951, A Streetcar Named Desire. That won Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. (Somehow only Brando lost.) (I mean, it was to Bogie, but still. He was the one who lost there.)

The seventh was 1953, From Here to Eternity, which walked away with the Supporting Oscars.

The eighth was 1966, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It won Actress and Supporting Actress.

The ninth was 1967, Bonnie and Clyde. It only won Supporting Actress.

The tenth was also 1967, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. That won Best Actress.

The eleventh was 1976, Network. That won Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. (Not only that, Best Actor beat someone else from the film.)

The twelfth was 1978, Coming Home. That won Best Actor and Best Actress.

The thirteenth was 1981, Reds. That won Best Supporting Actress.

And the fourteenth was last year, Silver Linings Playbook. It won Best Actress.

Now, the point there, if you were paying attention — all but two of these won at least one acting award. All but two. And one of those two was literally in the first year that the Supporting categories existed. Which is a pretty fucking good track record, historically. Now, of course, the closest precedent to this year is actually 1950, I feel, since there aren’t really slam dunk winners in any of the categories, and this feels like it’s going to end up with the film winning nothing. (Plus, I don’t think we expected it to get four. That Best Actor nomination came out of nowhere.) That said, 13/14 is a really good percentage. So you at least have to humor the notion.

And, in humoring it — where you do see the potential win?

Best Actor? No. That’s the longest shot on the board. There will be less than 1% of people who have that on their ballots (picking, I mean. Not voting), and it would actually shock all of us if it came through. So that’s not the one.

Best Actress? Technically it could happen. But do we really see that actually happening? You look at that category, she does have the ability to weave through three of those other nominees and make a solid case as the second choice for the win. (Voting-wise, not when you’re subjectively breaking down performances. I just mean objectively. All of this is objective.) But does she have enough to overtake the commanding leader in the category? I don’t think so. So we’ll say no on that for now.

Best Supporting Actor? Possibly. Of the five, you know one’s not winning for sure, the other has no momentum, the third is a wild card, but isn’t well-respected amongst the peers and is in a film that a lot of the Academy seemed to hate, so actually, this one has a legitimate case to be made. He might be the second choice there, with your frontrunner not particularly solidly in the lead at the moment. Maybe he is, but I think there’s actually room for that category to potentially go another way, so that one actually could happen.

And then there’s this category. Which — of all of them — this is the one that, on paper, could go that films’ way. So I think you have to take that notion very seriously. You’d be stupid not to. Of course, we were going to take it seriously anyway even without mentioning it, since when you look at this category, it comes down to only two choices anyhow. Still, I think that’s something we should all keep in mind, since it might mean something. Sometimes they do actually look to give films something.


5. Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine — She was the nominee we weren’t sure about, and she’s clearly the #5 here. The one “nomination is the reward” actress. Which is cool. But she’s obviously not winning, and I don’t think more needs to be said on that front.

4. June Squibb, Nebraska — The performance is nice, but the nomination is clearly the reward. If Bruce Dern is not winning, she has no shot. She’s 84, and they don’t typically do veterans here at all. It’s aways up-and-comers. Supporting Actor is the veteran category. That said, I don’t think any of us actually think she has a shot here.

3. Julia Roberts, August: Osage County — Also not happening. She was good, but the film barely got views, and she’s respected, but won’t command lots of votes. This is more of a “she’s back” nomination than anything. She won’t win, and only because she is who she is means she’ll command more voting attention than the other two. Either way, this is a two-horse race, and we all know it.

2. Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle — She’s the “darling” of the moment. She won last year, she has the scene-stealing performance of the bunch, they love the film, they might look to get it an acting award… there are reasons. Her winning the Globe is not one of them. The Globe doesn’t mean as much as SAG. If she won SAG, then we can talk more about precursors. BAFTA, I don’t put too much stock into it because she didn’t win there last year. I just don’t know if they’re gonna go back to her two years in a row. I just don’t. I think some people might regret last year’s decision a little bit and won’t rush to vote for her because of that. I just feel like she’s not gonna win this one. I wouldn’t be shocked if she did, since that would say a lot about the Academy and its members, but right now — not feeling it. She’s #2, I think.

1. Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave — SAG still means a lot. She won SAG, and Lawrence is coming off a win, plus this way they can give the film something even if they don’t want to go Best Picture for it. She seems like the clear favorite here. She might not win, but it’s pretty much between her and Jennifer Lawrence, and with SAG, and the fact that Lawrence won already… I’m considering her the favorite until something else happens. Honestly, with the category not amounting to much, why not give it to her? She’s the favorite.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is Supporting Actor. It’s been uneventful, yet the category should have lead it to being anything but.


8 responses

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