Ranking the 88th Academy Award Nominees: Best Actress in a Supporting Role

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This year is very concerning for the Supporting categories. The Supporting Actor category is a barren wasteland, and I really don’t care who wins there. However, the Supporting Actress category is also a very strange one because the five nominees are all very good, and are all truly very worthy of winning the Academy Award in a few weeks. However, we have two leading performances frauded into the supporting category, two overdue actresses and one of the best living actresses making her long-awaited Oscar comeback.

#5 – Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer in Spotlight

I didn’t dislike Rachel McAdam’s performance at all – but as a whole, the ensemble of Spotlight worked well together, but none of them are really worthy of individual nominations. McAdams was very good, but certainly did not do anything that deserved her own nomination. I am glad she has finally been nominated, and if for some reason she does end up winning, it will be a good win, just not the best of this category.

 

#4 – Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl

Alicia Vikander has had a fantastic year, and her performance in The Danish Girl actually made that trainwreck somewhat watchable, and her committed and lovely performance made me actually want to finish the film. She is certainly a lovely actress, and her performance is very good. However, I just cannot abide the fact that she is a leading performance in this film, and while her performance is very good, it is an absolute shame she is nominated here. I would have much preferred her performance in Ex Machina, an actual supporting performance, to be nominated here instead of this one. However, she is simply very good, and this category is very strong, which is why she finds herself in this position (and in the leading category, she would most certainly have ranked much higher)

 

#3 – Rooney Mara as Therese Belivet in Carol

Even more leading than Alicia Vikander, I am very confused as to why Rooney Mara is nominated in Supporting. There are no arguments towards her placement there, and it really doesn’t make any sense. However, Mara is also exquisitely good, and while she is very subdued and reserved, her performance tells a poignant story, and the performance is a turning point in the young but already established actress’ career. If she was nominated in Lead, she could possibly rank first, or at least higher than her co-star, Cate Blanchett. Mara is fantastic, but as with Alicia, I can’t let her win this ranking based on the fact that she has far too much screen-time to warrant a win in Supporting Actress.

 

#2 – Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman in Steve Jobs

I’ve been waiting years for Kate Winslet, one of the finest living actresses, to make her overdue comeback to the Academy Awards after winning Best Actress in 2009. Since then, she has done a combination of prestige films and more light fare, but with her performance in the verbose and charmingly interesting Steve Jobs, she is undeniably great as the dedicated and manipulative assistant to the titular genius. Winslet is fantastic in the role, and she almost ranked first. I would be ecstatic if she won her second Oscar, because she truly is the epitome of a great supporting performance in this film.

 

#1 – Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue in The Hateful Eight

Jennifer Jason Leigh was far and above the standout of the spectacular nihilistic western The Hateful Eight. Evil, manipulative and hilarious, she worked well, and both in her loud, screeching moments and in her quiet, reserved moments, she is wonderful. She works well with the entire cast, and I have to give her extra kudos for her special efforts to roll with all the complex and strange punches that Tarantino threw at her throughout – how can you stay chained up to another person, have stew thrown in your face, been pushed out of a moving carriage and spend the entire third act covered in blood without being seen as dedicated. Jennifer Jason Leigh has been a wonderful actress, and she deserves this nomination, which is sadly the first in her entire career, when she deserved so much more. Hopefully The Hateful Eight boosted her profile and she gets better work (a side note: she would have been equally deserving for her performance in Anomalisa, a complete opposite of her performance here)

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