The Supporting Actress slate doesn't seem has chock full of legit contenders as it has in years past. Not that any of these five performances are undeserving of some Oscar love, but four of them really don't hold a candle to the fifth, making this one of the night's slam dunk categories.
If any actress has been riding an Oscar hot streak of late, it's Amy Adams. She's somewhat quietly accrued four Best Supporting Actress nominations in just seven years. Early speculation suggested that maybe this year would be her turn to win, but then the film was seen. Her performance, like the film that houses it, is a beautiful mystery, and is a crucial element, but is just not flashy enough to take the gold.
If anyone could maybe lay claim to the spoiler position, it's Sally Field in Lincoln. She took some high profile critics prizes before the frontrunner emerged, and most seem to agree that she's quite good in the film. If anything, her scenery chewing helps her stand apart from her cast mates. If she shocks us on Oscar night with a win, it will bode very well for Lincoln's Best Picture chances indeed.
However, only a fool would bet against Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables. If you ask me, not only did Hathaway give the best supporting female performance of the year in a relatively brief role, but actually gave the two best supporting female performances of the year (How cool was that shout out to her Dark Knight Rises cast at the SAG Awards!). Her hair-raising rendition of the musical's signature song is her ace in the hole. Worked for Jennifer Hudson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and it's gonna work for her.
Next to Hathaway, my favourite performance of the bunch is Helen Hunt's in The Sessions. While I object to her nomination on the basis of category fraud (she's so a co-lead!), I'm glad that she, and the film, got at least a little representation. However, being the movie's only nomination indicates a general lack of support; support which Hunt would have needed in order to challenge for the win.
Finally, the only appreciable surprise the category had to offer was the inclusion of Jackie Weaver for her unassuming performance in Silver Linings Playbook. As decent an actor as she is, the script really didn't give her character a whole lot to do. Her nomination speaks more to the Academy's love of the film, but it's nice to see that her nod a couple of years ago for Animal Kingdom has clearly given her career a real boost.
Will win: Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables
Runner-up: Sally Field for Lincoln
Should win: Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables
Should have been nominated: Anne Hathaway for The Dark Knight Rises