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Oscars 2016 Category Breakdown: Best Supporting Actress

Every year before the Oscars I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category, how it typically goes, voting-wise, historically and also as a precursor to my picks article, allowing me to get most of the heavy lifting out of the way beforehand.

What I do is go over each category’s history, give you all the previous winners and nominees, then list the current year’s nominees. And then I’ll go over how each of the guilds (if there is a corresponding guild) have voted, how that corresponds to the Oscars (some guilds mean a lot to how a category will play out. Others mean nothing). It’s basically everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision when you make your picks on Oscar night. And then I also rank the nominees at the end in terms of where I see them in terms of their likelihood to win. So you know what the general favorites are.

Today is Best Supporting Actress. This will be easy.

Year Best Supporting Actress Winners Other Nominees
1936 Gale Sondergaard, Anthony Adverse Beulah Bondi, The Gorgeous Hussy

Alice Brady, My Man Godfrey

Bonita Granville, These Three

Maria Ouspenskaya, Dodsworth

1937 Alice Brady, In Old Chicago Andrea Leeds, Stage Door

Anne Shirley, Stella Dallas

Claire Trevor, Dead End

Dame May Whitty, Night Must Fall

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

1939 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

1940 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

1941 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

1942 Teresa Wright, Mrs. Miniver Gladys Cooper, Now, Voyager

Susan Peters, Random Harvest

Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons

Dame May Whitty, Mrs. Miniver

1943 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

1944 Ethel Barrymore, None But the Lonely Heart Jennifer Jones, Since You Went Away

Angela Lansbury, Gaslight

Aline MacMahon, Dragon Seed

Agnes Moorehead, Mrs. Parkington

1945 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

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

1947 Celeste Holm, Gentleman’s Agreement Ethel Barrymore, The Paradine Case

Gloria Grahame, Crossfire

Marjoria Main, The Egg and I

Anne Revere, Gentleman’s Agreement

1948 Claire Trevor, Key Largo Barbara Bel Geddes, I Remember Mama

Ellen Corby, I Remember Mama

Agnes Moorehead, Johnny Belinda

Jean Simmons, Hamlet

1949 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

1950 Josephine Hull, Harvey Hope Emerson, Caged

Celeste Holm, All About Eve

Susan Olson, Sunset Boulevard

Thelma Ritter, All About Eve

1951 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

1952 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

1953 Donna Reed, From Here to Eternity Grace Kelly, Mogambo

Geraldine Page, Hondo

Marjorie Rambeau, Torch Song

Thelma Ritter, Pickup on South Street

1954 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

1955 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

1956 Dorothy Malone, Written on the Wind Midred Dunnock, Baby Doll

Eileen Heckart, The Bad Seed

Mercedes McCambridge, Giant

Patty McCormack, The Bad Seed

1957 Miyoshi Umeki, Sayonara Carolyn Jones, The Bachelor Party

Elsa Lanchester, Witness for the Prosecution

Hope Lange, Peyton Place

Diane Varsi, Peyton Place

1958 Wendy Hiller, Separate Tables Peggy Cass, Autie Mame

Martha Hyer, Some Came Running

Maureen Stapleton, Lonelyhearts

Cara Williams, The Defiant Ones

1959 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

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

1961 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

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

1963 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

1964 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

1965 Shelley Winters, A Patch of Blue Ruth Gordon, Inside Daisy Clover

Joyce Redman, Othello

Maggie Smith, Othello

Peggy Wood, The Sound of Music

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

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

1968 Ruth Gordon, Rosemary’s Babby Lynn Carlin, Faces

Sondra Locke, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Kay Medford, Funny Girl

Estelle Parsons, Rachel, Rachel

1969 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?

1970 Helen Hayes, Airport Karen Black, Five Easy Pieces

Lee Grant, The Landlord

Sally Kellerman, MASH

Maureen Stapleton, Airport

1971 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

1972 Eileen Heckart, Butterflies are Free Jeannie Berlin, The Heartbreak Kid

Geraldine Page, Pete ‘n’ Tillie

Susan Tyrrell, Fat City

Shelley Winters, The Poseidon Adventure

1973 Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon Linda Blair, The Exorcist

Candy Clark, American Graffiti

Madeline Kahn, Paper Moon

Sylvia Sidney, Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams

1974 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

1975 Lee Grant, Shampoo Ronee Blakley, Nashville

Sylvia Miles, Farewell, My Lovely

Lily Tomlin, Nashville

Brenda Vaccaro, Jacqueline Susann’s Once is Not Enough

1976 Beatrice Straight, Network Jane Alexander, All the President’s Men

Jodie Foster, Taxi Driver

Lee Grant, Voyage of the Damned

Piper Laurie, Carrie

1977 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

1978 Maggie Smith, California Suite Dyan Cannon, Heaven Can Wait

Penelope Milford, Coming Home

Maureen Stapleton, Interiors

Meryl Streep, The Deer Hunter

1979 Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer Jane Alexander, Kramer vs. Kramer

Barbara Barrie, Breaking Away

Candice Bergen, Starting Over

Mariel Heminway, Manhattan

1980 Mary Steenburgen, Melvin and Howard Eileen Brennan, Private Benjamin

Eva Le Gallienne, Resurrection

Cathy Moriarty, Raging Bull

Diana Scarwid, Inside Moves

1981 Maureen Stapleton, Reds Melinda Dillon, Absence of Malice

Jane Fonda, On Golden Pond

Joan Hackett, The Last Laugh

Elizabeth McGovern, Ragtime

1982 Jessica Lange, Tootsie Glenn Close, The World According to Garp

Teri Garr, Tootsie

Kim Stanley, Frances

Lesley Ann Warren, Victor Victoria

1983 Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously Cher, Silkwood

Glenn Close, The Big Chill

Amy Irving, Yentl

Alfre Woodard, Cross Creek

1984 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

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

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 Vier

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

1988 Geena Davis, The Accidental Tourist Joan Cusack, Working Girl

Frances McDormand, Mississippi Burning

Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons

Sigourney Weaver, Working Girl

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

1990 Whoopi Goldberg, Ghost Annette Bening, The Grifters

Lorraine Bracco, Goodfellas

Diane Ladd, Wild at Heart

Mary McDonnell, Dances with Wolves

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

1992 Marisa Tomei, My Cousin Vinny Judy Davis, Husbands and Wives

Joan Plowright, Enchanted April

Vanessa Redgrave, Howards End

Miranda Richardson, Damage

1993 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

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

1995 Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite Joan Allen, Nixon

Kathleen Quinlan, Apollo 13

Mare Winningham, Georgia

Kate Winslet, Sense an Sensibility

1996 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

1997 Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential Joan Cusack, In & Out

Minnie Driver, Good Will Hunting

Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights

Gloria Stuart, Titanic

1998 Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love Kathy Bates, Primary Colors

Brenda Blethyn, Little Voice

Rachel Griffiths, Hilary and Jackie

Lynn Redgrave, Gods and Monsterds

1999 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

2000 Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock Judi Dench, Chocolat

Kate Hudson, Almost Famous

Frances McDormand, Almost Famous

Julie Walters, Billy Elliot

2001 Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind Helen Mirren, Gosford Park

Maggie Smith, Gosford Park

Marisa Tomei, In the Bedroom

Kate Winslet, Iris

2002 Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago Kathy Bates, About Schmidt

Queen Latifah, Chicago

Julianne Moore, The Hours

Meryl Streep, Adaptation

2003 Renée Zellweger, Cold Mountain Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog

Patricia Clarkson, Pieces of April

Marcia Gay Harden, Mystic River

Holly Huntet, Thirteen

2004 Cate Blanchett, The Aviator Laura Linney, Kinsey

Virginia Madsen, Sideways

Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda

Natalie Portman, Closer

2005 Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener Amy Adams, Junebug

Catherine Keener, Capote

Frances McDormand, North Country

Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

2006 Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls Adriana Barraza, Babel

Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal

Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine

Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

2007 Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There

Ruby Dee, American Gangster

Saoirse Ronan, Atonement

Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone

2008 Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona Amy Adams, Doubt

Viola Davis, Doubt

Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

2009 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

2010 Melissa Leo, The Fighter Amy Adams, The Fighter

Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Jackie Weaver, Animal Kingdom

2011 Octavia Spencer, The Help Berenice Bejo, The Artist

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

2012 Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables Amy Adams, The Master

Sally Field, Lincoln

Helen Hunt, The Sessions

Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

2013 Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

June Squibb, Nebraska

2014 Patricia Arquette, Boyhood Laura Dern, Wild

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Emma Stone, Birdman

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

2015 Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

 

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

SAG isn’t great here, but it’s not the worst of the acting categories.

They’re 15/22 all-time. Still better than 2/3. Though one of the 7 times they didn’t match was Kate Winslet winning for The Reader. So really like 70% of the time they’re right.

Also — fun fact — outside of 2008 and Kate Winslet, they’ve only been wrong once since 2002. It was 2007, and Ruby Dee instead of Tilda Swinton. So in 14 years, one wrong.

Basically you want to listen to SAG.

SAG, BAFTA, BFCA and the Globe all went to Viola Davis. This is her third nomination, and she barely missed for The Help in 2011. If there’s ever a sure thing in an acting category this year, she’s it.

Oh, but I should probably save that until the next part.

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

One of the least surprising categories ever. Not even the possibility of surprise.

Rankings:

5. Octavia Spencer — She’s nominated because the film needed an acting nominee and the category is incredibly weak. So they put a previous winner in there to make it look better. (That’s not how it went down, but retroactively, that’s what it looks like.) There’s not even a small chance she could win this.

4. Nicole Kidman — The nomination is the reward. Honoring a veteran and previous winner who has now moved on from leading roles into “mom” roles. She’s strong, but she has zero chance at winning. This is just keeping her relevant. That’s all this is. Less than 5% chance she wins this.

3. Michelle Williams — She’s got her one big scene, and it’s a big scene. She’ll get a few votes. But without any precursors and the other acting nominees from the film in doubt (especially Best Actor, which looked like a sure thing earlier on), she’s nothing more than a dark horse at best. Complete third choice all around. She’ll catch a few votes, but has nowhere near the backing to get anywhere close to a win.

2. Naomie Harris — There will be people who vote for her. Not enough, but there will be some votes going her way. They’ll doubly up the Supporting categories for Moonlight. She’ll get somewhere in the high teens to 20% of the vote. But she’s definitely not the frontrunner nor does anyone think she’s gonna win this. The nomination is the reward. She’s a first time nominee. She’s not…

1. Viola Davis — She’s one of the most respected actresses working. She’s on her third nomination. Her first was Doubt, a one-scene showstopper kind of like Michelle Williams. And it was her first nomination, where it was a welcoming but not something they took seriously for a win, like Naomie Harris. She just missed Best Actress in 2011, and here she is, with a powerhouse performance that’s lauded all around and could land both stars of this movie Oscars. She’s easily the favorite, and of all four acting categories, this one’s the most locked. Who’s gonna go against Viola at this point?

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is Cinematography.

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