Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscar Predictions: Supporting Actress and Actor

Actress - Supporting

Adriana Barraza - Babel
Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi - Babel

There's really no discussion here as to who's taking this one home, and now that I've finally seen Dreamgirls, I know why. Jennifer Hudson is fantastic. However, what Hudson is really nominated for is the Oscar for "Best Actress who has never been in a film before, so the producers put her in the Supporting Actress category". Hudson has a lead role in this film, not Beyoncé. It's probably for the best, though I would love to see what would happen were she pitted against Helen Mirren. There is no talk of the Supporting Actress curse which has plagued so many (Mira Sorvino; even my favourite, Angelina), perhaps because no one has been tricked into thinking Hudson is a supporting actress.

Similarly, to call Cate Blanchett "supporting" in Notes on a Scandal greatly diminishes her role. She and Dench are on screen together for the majority of the film. This is yet another example of the strategic categorizing that we see so much of these days during awards season. I understand the motive behind this, but it does present some level of unfairness to those actors and actresses whose roles actually are supporting. With limited screen time they must now stand up against roles like those of Hudson and Blanchett which dominate their respective films and have much more opportunity to make an impression on viewers.

Who should win: Jennifer Hudson
Who will win: Jennifer Hudson

Actor - Supporting

Alan Arkin - Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children*
Djimon Hounsou - Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls
Mark Wahlberg - The Departed

In spite of his strong performance and wins at the Globes and SAG, Eddie Murphy is not a lock for this one. A number of reasons have been tossed around as to why there is uncertainty here: 1) his acceptance speeches at the other awards shows made him come across as a bit of an asshole, 2) he's primarily a comedian, and the Academy doesn't traditionally award comics in dramatic roles (see Jim Carrey), though it has happened (see Robin Williams), 3) Norbit (though there are two sides to the Norbit coin because it's making a lot of money, and getting people into theatres really counts for something even if the movie is by all accounts shit-tacular).

If Murphy doesn't win, the general consensus is that Alan Arkin will. One need only watch the trailer for Little Miss Sunshine to grasp why he's nominated.

It isn't only in the actress categories that we see strategic placement of nominees. Djimon Hounsou's role in Blood Diamond is so central it's hard to justify calling him "supporting". He gives a very strong performance, and I'd be tempted to choose him over DiCaprio if they were up against one another.

Mark Wahlberg had some great lines in The Departed and his delivery of them was excellent, but his character is minor even among the many supporting roles, which probably puts him at a bit of a disadvantage (he's not Judi Dench, after all).

Who should win: I'm torn on this one
Who will win: Eddie Murphy

*indicates films I haven't seen

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