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The Best Supporting Actress Oscar Race: Who Will Be Nominated?

With Oscar nominations right around the corner, CinemaBlend is taking a look at which films and performances are likely to be in contention for nominations. Let’s break down the state of the Supporting Actress race.

Locked In

Fresh off of a Golden Globe win, Ariana DeBose is easily out front in her category. Her performance as Anita in West Side Story, a role that won Rita Moreno an Oscar for the 1961 adaptation, has no shortage of scene-stealing Oscar moments, many of which show off her incredible talent as a singer and dancer as well. Caitríona Balfe’s role as the protective mother in Belfast looks close to a lock as well. She was the only actor from her film nominated at the SAG awards, making the cut even as Jamie Dornan and Ciarán Hinds were brutally snubbed.

Kirsten Dunst is likely to finally be recognized by the Academy for her role in the Best Picture heavyweight, The Power the Dog. From her breakout role at age 12 in Interview with the Vampire to her Cannes Best Actress winning role in Melancholia, many feel it’s her time. These three are the only actresses with a Critics Choice, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild nomination in the category, so it would be a huge shock if any of them didn’t show in the Oscar lineup. 

Likely Bets

It wasn’t before her SAG snub that I even considered the possibility of Aunjanue Ellis missing a nomination for King Richard. What may hurt her chances is that so much of her performance hinges on one scene, but in that one scene she steals the whole show. I expect she’ll overcome this snub, and being part of a likely Best Picture nominees film will help secure her the nomination. Also likely to be recognized is Ruth Negga for her brilliant performance in Passing. Though she would likely be only nomination for the film, she’s in good hands with Netflix campaigning, and that SAG nomination really sealed the deal for placing her in my predictions.

Dark Horses

The aforementioned five are the safest picks in the category, and it would be a hell of a lineup. But should someone miss the nomination, who is on the outskirts vying for a slot? 

Ann Dowd should be in the winning conversation for her role as a grieving mother looking for catharsis in Mass. Unfortunately, the film failed to gain any traction at the box office and is suffering from being underseen, though a Critics Choice nomination offers some hope. Rita Moreno offers a compelling narrative for voters for a side-by-side nomination with Ariana DeBose, considering she played that role in 1961. Though her role is a bit light on screen time, she has an emotional musical number and a legacy that can’t be underestimated.

Cate Blanchett surprised at SAG with a nomination for her role as a cunning psychiatrist in Nightmare Alley. This will be her only major nomination however, as she missed the BAFTA longlist. Judi Dench seemed like a possible candidate for her role in Belfast, but has been ignored by awards voters so far in favor of the her three co-stars who have more to work with in the film. Meryl Streep’s role in Don’t Look Up seems compelling on paper, but she has also failed to gain any traction. Surprisingly, Marlee Matlin’s performance in CODA has also been ignored by awards voters, despite the film’s rise as a Best Picture contender.

If anyone can surprise without a major precursor nomination, maybe it’s Jessie Buckley for The Lost Daughter. Her performance has been singled out and awarded by critics, and if The Lost Daughter has a strong showing, she could go along for the ride. It’s also not impossible that BAFTA could show her some love, given her Lead Actress nomination for Wild Rose two years ago. 

Check back here at CinemaBlend for more category breakdowns. You can check out Lead Actor, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay.