The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide — Best Supporting Actress

Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest: A Viewer’s Guide, specifically for Best Supporting Actress.

A reminder about the color code:

Films in RED are films that are essential. These are films you need to see, whether you like them or not. Though you’ll probably like most of them. A few of these may be part of a personal bias, but this is my list. Just think of the films in red as films you need to see if you want to be film literate (in the most basic sense). At least 70% of these are films that, if you haven’t seen them, you should be ashamed of yourself. These are the prerequisites you need to get into the class. (5-star films.)

Films in ORANGE are films that are my personal favorites (that aren’t already marked red). While not “essential” per say, these are films that I love dearly. They’re essential to me. They’re films that I will tell you that you need to see. I’d say that 80% of the time, these are going to be films that most people would enjoy. A few of them might be subjective to me, but on the whole, these are all very good films. I tried to limit the orange ones to only the best of the best, my absolute favorites. But either way, I love them, and you should definitely see at least 80% of them. (My 5-star films. At worst, most people’s 3-star films. Generally 4’s for everybody.)

Films in YELLOW are films I rate as “very good” films. Not too many people can deny that these films are good films, and whether or not they like them will come down to personal preference. The yellows are the most expansive category. They are by far the biggest bunch. Some of them are 5 stars, but just aren’t ones I love enough to make them orange. Most are solid 4s and come highly recommended. Some are weak 4s and high 3s and come recommended. The strength of the recommendation can be gauged by checking the articles. I’d say at least 60% of them are ones that most people would definitely enjoy, sight unseen. You may want to check a synopsis to be sure, but the rule of thumb is, you see yellow, it’s a good film. You should definitely check out a good portion of these. (4-star films. Maybe a 5 or a 3 here or there.)

Films in GREEN are films that are good films, but ones that probably won’t be for everybody. These probably cover the most ground in terms of my ratings. These will be anywhere from films I feel are solidly 4 stars, to films I don’t even like so much but understand and appreciate that they’re good films. I think the major commonality among the films is that they’re very divisive. They’re all good, but, some people might really like them, some people might not. You almost definitely want to check the synopses on these. Because some of these I love, and some of these I really don’t like, but I mark them green because I know they are good films on some level and don’t want to discount them entirely. These will be the hardest to gauge in terms of my opinion on them based solely on the color. I recommend you get more information on these. But generally most people would rate these at least a 3. (These are generally 3-4 star movies. Many 3s, many 4s, it depends.)

Films in BLUE are — well — the other films. These are films that I enjoyed, but didn’t really love all that much. They’re ones that are one step above the next level below this. Think of these as films that I enjoyed, but not more than a “meh, that was pretty good” kind of way. You’ll get a feel for it when you see which ones are marked blue. They’re ones that, while not totally for me, have their high points, and are not “bad” enough to be put in the final category. Do your homework on these. You may find ones you like here that I don’t like (it’s entirely possible), or you may find something that you like a lot more than I did. This is all based on my personal opinion. The first thing you should know before doing this is how my opinions match yours. NOTE: ALL WINNERS ARE AT LEAST BLUE. Having won, they carry at least that much of a coding. I may not feel so strongly about them, but they do earn that much. So, if you see a WINNER in blue, chances are I don’t like the film too much. (3 star films. Almost exclusively. <5% 4 stars and 2 stars combined here.)

Films NOT in any color (or, whatever the default color of this page is) are films that I don’t like. I won’t go so far as to say I hate them, since they are Oscar nominees, and that at least merits a certain amount of respect, but we’ll put it like this: these are ones I DO NOT recommend. Or, they’re films that just really weren’t for me. By elimination, there have to be a few of these on this list. So, the ones that are blank are ones that either I don’t like or are completely indifferent towards. And complete indifference means, they may be good, but I don’t care. I just didn’t care for it, whether because I think it’s a bad film, a boring film, or because it just really wasn’t for me. Read the articles if you want specifics. (3 stars or 2 star here. Nothing nominated for an Oscar gets a 1. They’re not completely inept. Mostly 2s, some 3s.)

(Note: Winners appear first and bolded. If a performance/directorial effort is italicized, I consider it to be one of the best. If an asterisk (*) appears after a film, it means it hasn’t been nominated before and is appearing for the first time (in the order of Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director). Also, the colors are uniform throughout. I’ve rated the films, not the performances.)


2013 – Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

June Squibb, Nebraska

2012  Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

Amy Adams, The Master

Sally Field, Lincoln

Helen Hunt, The Sessions *

Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

2011 – Octavia Spencer, The Help

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids *

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

2010Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Amy Adams, The Fighter

Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom *

2009Mo’Nique, Precious

Penélope Cruz, Nine *

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart

Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

2008Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona *

Amy Adams, Doubt

Viola Davis, Doubt

Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

2007Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There *

Ruby Dee, American Gangster *

Saorise Ronan, Atonement

Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone *

2006Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Adriana Barraza, Babel

Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal

Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine

Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

2005 Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener *

Amy Adams, Junebug *

Catherine Keener, Capote

Frances McDormand, North Country

Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

2004Cate Blanchett, The Aviator

Laura Linney, Kinsey *

Virginia Madsen, Sideways

Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda

Natalie Portman, Closer

2003Renée Zellweger, Cold Mountain

Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog

Patricia Clarkson, Pieces of April *

Marcia Gay Harden, Mystic River

Holly Hunter, Thirteen *

2002 Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

Kathy Bates, About Schmidt

Julianne Moore, The Hours

Queen Latifah, Chicago

Meryl Streep, Adaptation.

2001Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind

Helen Mirren, Gosford Park

Maggie Smith, Gosford Park

Marisa Tomei, In the Bedroom

Kate Winslet, Iris

2000Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock

Judi Dench, Chocolat

Kate Hudson, Almost Famous *

Frances McDormand, Almost Famous

Julie Walters, Billy Elliot *

1999Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted *

Toni Collette, The Sixth Sense

Catherine Keener, Being John Malkovich *

Samantha Morton, Sweet and Lowdown

Chloë Sevigny, Boys Don’t Cry

1998Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love

Kathy Bates, Primary Colors *

Brenda Blethyn, Little Voice *

Rachel Griffiths, Hilary and Jackie

Lynn Redgrave, Gods and Monsters

1997Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential

Joan Cusack, In & Out *

Minnie Driver, Good Will Hunting

Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights

Gloria Stuart, Titanic

1996Juliette Binoche, The English Patient

Joan Allen, The Crucible *

Lauren Bacall, The Mirror Has Two Faces *

Barbara Hershey, The Portrait of a Lady *

Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Secrets & Lies

1995Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite *

Joan Allen, Nixon

Kathleen Quinlan, Apollo 13

Mare Winningham, Georgia *

Kate Winslet, Sense and Sensibility

1994 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

1993Anna Paquin, The Piano

Holly Hunter, The Firm *

Rosie Perez, Fearless *

Winona Ryder, The Age of Innocence *

Emma Thompson, In the Name of the Father

1992 Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny *

Judy Davis, Husbands and Wives *

Joan Plowright, Enchanted April *

Vanessa Redgrave, Howards End

Miranda Richardson, Damage *

1991 Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King

Diane Ladd, Rambling Rose

Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear

Kate Nelligan, The Prince of Tides

Jessica Tandy, Fried Green Tomatoes *

1990Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost

Annette Bening, The Grifters

Lorraine Bracco, Goodfellas

Diane Ladd, Wild at Heart *

Mary McDonnell, Dances with Wolves

1989 Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot

Anjelica Huston, Enemies, A Love Story *

Lena Olin, Enemies, A Love Story

Julia Roberts, Steel Magnolias *

Dianne Wiest, Parenthood *

1988 Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist

Joan Cusack, Working Girl

Frances McDormand, Mississippi Burning

Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons

Sigourney Weaver, Working Girl

1987 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 *

1986 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 View

1985 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

1984Peggy 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 *

1983 Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously *

Cher, Silkwood

Glenn Close, The Big Chill

Amy Irving, Yentl *

Alfre Woodard, Cross Creek

1982 Jessica Lange, Tootsie

Glenn Close, The World According to Garp

Teri Garr, Tootsie

Kim Stanley, Frances

Lesley Ann Warren, Victor Victoria

1981Maureen Stapleton, Reds

Melinda Dillon, Absence of Malice

Jane Fonda, On Golden Pond

Joan Hackett, Only When I Laugh

Elizabeth McGovern, Ragtime

1980 Mary Steenburgen, Melvin and Howard

Eileen Brennan, Private Benjamin

Eva Le Gallienne, Resurrection

Cathy Moriarty, Raging Bull

Diana Scarwid, Inside Moves *

1979 Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer

Jane Alexander, Kramer vs. Kramer

Barbara Barrie, Breaking Away

Candice Bergen, Starting Over

Mariel Hemingway, Manhattan *

1978Maggie Smith, California Suite *

Dyan Cannon, Heaven Can Wait

Penelope Milford, Coming Home

Maureen Stapleton, Interiors

Meryl Streep, The Deer Hunter

1977Vanessa 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 *

1976 Beatrice Straight, Network

Jane Alexander, All the President’s Men

Jodie Foster, Taxi Driver

Lee Grant, Voyage of the Damned *

Piper Laurie, Carrie

1975 Lee Grant, Shampoo

Ronnee Blakley, Nashville

Sylvia Miles, Farewell, My Lovely *

Lily Tomlin, Nashville

Brenda Vaccaro, Jacqueline Susan’s Once Is Not Enough *

1974 Ingrid Bergman, 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

1973Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon *

Linda Blair, The Exorcist

Candy Clark, American Graffiti

Madeline Kahn, Paper Moon

Sylvia Sydney, Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams

1972Eileen Heckart, Butterflies are Free

Jeannie Berlin, The Heartbreak Kid

Geraldine Page, Pete ‘n’ Tillie *

Susan Tyrell, Fat City *

Shelley Winters, The Poseidon Adventure *

1971Cloris Leachman, The Last Picture Show

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 *

Ann-Margret, Carnal Knowledge *

1970Helen Hayes, Airport

Karen Black, Five Easy Pieces

Lee Grant, The Landlord *

Sally Kellerman, MASH

Maureen Stapleton, Airport

1969Goldie Hawn, Cactus Flower *

Catherine Burns, Last Summer *

Dyan Cannon, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

Sylvia Miles, Midnight Cowboy

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

1968 Ruth Gordon, Rosemary’s Baby *

Lynn Carlin, Faces

Sondra Locke, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Kay Medford, Funny Girl

Estelle Parsons, Rachel, Rachel

1967 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

1966 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 *

1965Shelley Winters, A Patch of Blue

Ruth Gordon, Inside Daisy Clover *

Joyce Redman, Othello

Maggie Smith, Othello

Peggy Wood, The Sound of Music

1964Lila 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 *

1963Margaret Rutherford, The V.I.P.s *

Diane Cilento, Tom Jones

Edith Evans, Tom Jones

Joyce Redman, Tom Jones

Lilia Skala, Lilies of the Field

1962 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

1961Rita 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

1960 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

1959Shelley 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

1958 Wendy Hiller, Separate Tables

Peggy Cass, Auntie Mame

Martha Hyer, Some Came Running

Maureen Stapleton, Lonelyhearts *

Cara Williams, The Defiant Ones

1957 – Miyoshi Umeki, Sayonara

Carolyn Jones, The Bachelor Party *

Elsa Lanchester, Witness for Prosecution

Hope Lange, Peyton Place

Diane Varsi, Peyton Place

1956Dorothy Malone, Written on the Wind

Mildred Dunnock, Baby Doll

Eileen Heckart, The Bad Seed

Mercedes McCambridge, Giant

Patty McCormack, The Bad Seed

1955Jo 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

1954Eva Marie Saint, On the Waterfront

Nina Foch, Executive Suite *

Katy Jurado, Broken Lance *

Jan Sterling, The High and the Mighty

Claire Trevor, The High and the Mighty

1953 Donna Reed, From Here to Eternity

Grace Kelly, Mogambo

Geraldine Page, Hondo *

Marjorie Rambeau, Torch Song *

Thelma Ritter, Pickup on South Street *

1952Gloria 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

1951Kim 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 *

1950Josephine Hull, Harvey

Hope Emerson, Caged

Celeste Holm, All About Eve

Nancy Olson, Sunset Boulevard

Thelma Ritter, All About Eve

1949Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men

Ethel Barrymore, Pinky

Celeste Holm, Come to the Stable

Elsa Lanchester, Come to the Stable

Ethel Waters, Pinky

1948 Claire Trevor, Key Largo *

Barbara Bel Geddes, I Remember Mama

Ellen Corby, I Remember Mama

Agnes Moorehead, Johnny Belinda

Jean Simmons, Hamlet

1947 – Celeste Holm, Gentleman’s Agreement

Ethel Barrymore, The Paradine Case

Gloria Grahame, Crossfire

Marjorie Mann, The Egg and I *

Anne Revere, Gentleman’s Agreement

1946 – 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 *

1945Anne Revere, National Velvet *

Eve Arden, Mildred Pierce

Ann Blyth, Mildred Pierce

Angela Lansbury, The Picture of Dorian Gray *

Joan Lorring, The Corn is Green

1944Ethel Barrymore, None But the Lonely Heart

Jennifer Jones, Since You Went Away

Angela Lansbury, Gaslight

Aline MacMahon, Dragon Seed *

Agnes Moorhead, Mrs. Parkington

1943 – Katina Paxinou, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Gladys Cooper, The Song of Bernadette

Paulette Godard, So Proudly We Hail *

Anne Revere, The Song of Bernadette

Lucile Watson, Watch on the Rhine

1942 Teresa Wright, Mrs. Miniver

Gladys Cooper, Now, Voyager

Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons

Susan Peters, Random Harvest

Dame Mae Whitty, Mrs. Miniver

1941Mary Astor, The Great Lie *

Sara Allgood, How Green Was My Valley

Patricia Collinge, The Little Foxes

Teresa Wright, The Little Foxes

Margaret Wycherly, Sergeant York

1940Jane 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 *

1939Hattie 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

1938 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 *

1937Alice Brady, In Old Chicago

Andrea Leeds, Stage Door

Anne Shirley, Stella Dallas

Claire Trevor, Dead End

Dame Mae Whitty, Night Must Fall

1936Gale Sondergaard, Anthony Adverse

Beulah Bondi, The Gorgeous Hussy *

Alice Brady, My Man Godfrey

Bonita Granville, These Three *

Maria Ouspenskaya, Dodsworth

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