The 2014 Academy Awards' Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor races seemed quite fuzzy at first. The picture became clearer following the announcement of the SAG Award nominations: now, there are three or four top contenders in each category; these performers will probably – or rather, in a couple of cases, surely – be shortlisted for this year's Academy Awards. (See also: "Oscar Predictions 2014 Best Actress: Meryl Streep Possibly to Break Another Record," "Oscar Predictions 2014 Best Actor: Robert Redford Possible Near-Record," and "Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Picture, Best Director.")
Yet, there's quite a bit of room for a couple of upsets. In other words, pay close attention to our list of runners-up for Best Supporting Actress. In fact, even one of the "long shot" actresses might manage to squeeze in; admittedly, that's highly unlikely – but not impossible. (See also: "Best Supporting Actor 2014 Oscar Predictions: Jared Leto vs. James Franco?")
Also worth noting is that unlike the Oscar 2014 Best Actress race, currently dominated by Blue Jasmine's Cate Blanchett, there is no runaway favorite in the Best Supporting Actress category, though Jennifer Lawrence could be considered the tentative front-runner for American Hustle. If she wins, she'll be making Oscar history. More on that below.
Note: Our Oscar 2014 predictions for Best Supporting Actress features only one actress not nominated for a SAG Award. See below.
Oscar 2014 Predictions: Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins for Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine; Jennifer Lawrence for David O. Russell's American Hustle; Lupita Nyong'o for Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave; Julia Roberts for John Well's August: Osage County; June Squibb for Alexander Payne's Nebraska.
Runners-up: Scarlett Johansson for Spike Jonze's Her (in a realm of its own, as a voice only performance; see below); Juliette Lewis and Margo Martindale for August: Osage County; Octavia Spencer for Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station; Oprah Winfrey for Lee Daniel's The Butler.
Long shots: Jane Fonda for The Butler; Naomie Harris for Justin Chadwick's Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; Julianne Nicholson for August: Osage County; Margot Robbie for Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street; Léa Seydoux for Abdellatif Kechiche's Blue Is the Warmest Color.
Note: On our Best Supporting Actress Oscar 2014 predictions list, SAG Award nominee Oprah Winfrey has been replaced by Golden Globe nominee Sally Hawkins.
Scarlett Johansson to make Oscar history?
Also, bear in mind that Amy Adams, though being pushed as a Best Actress contender for American Hustle, could theoretically find her way into the Best Supporting Actress roster for her performance in that movie. Stranger things have happened.
And speaking of "strange," if Scarlett Johansson gets shortlisted for her voice work in Her – she's the voice of the computer with which Joaquin Phoenix falls in love – that'll be stranger than the premise of her movie. After all, no voice (or "hybrid") performance, no matter how enthusiastically praised – e.g., Robin Williams in Aladdin, Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes – has ever been nominated for an Academy Award.
Best Supporting Actress Oscar 2014: First Kenyan nominee?
In case our Best Supporting Actress Oscar 2014 predictions are on target, three of the nominees will be first-timers (Sally Hawkins, Lupita Nyong'o, June Squibb) while two have previously won Academy Awards (Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts):
- Five years ago, potential Oscar newcomer Sally Hawkins was bypassed for her critically acclaimed and heavily buzzed performance in Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky.
- Mexican-born Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o not only will become the first Kenyan acting nominee, but (to the best of our knowledge) the second African actress ever to be nominated for an Academy Award – following South African Charlize Theron (who won for Monster, 2003, and was nominated for North Country, 2005). Note: Glynis Johns, Best Supporting Actress nominee for The Sundowners (1960), was born in South Africa while her parents were touring that country, but she grew up in Wales.
- The 84-year-old June Squibb will become the fourth oldest acting nominee ever, after two previous Best Supporting Actress nominees – Titanic's 87-year-old Gloria Stuart and American Gangster's 85-year-old Ruby Dee – in addition to last year's Emmanuelle Riva, who was 85 at the time she was nominated in the Best Actress category for her performance in Michael Haneke's Amour. Note: Thanks to a commenter, we've corrected our info regarding oldest nominees in the acting categories. We previously had June Squibb trailing only Emmanuelle Riva. Reason for the mistake: although we checked every acting category, we inadvertently saw only the list of Best Supporting Actress Oscar winners. For the record, the oldest winner in that category is Peggy Ashcroft, who was 77 when she won for David Lean's A Passage to India in early 1985.*
- Jennifer Lawrence will be receiving her third Oscar nod, and her first in the Best Supporting Actress category. Lawrence was shortlisted for Debra Granik's Winter's Bone (2010) and won for David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook (2012). If she wins for American Hustle, Lawrence will be making Oscar history: the first performer to win back-to-back Academy Awards – in two different acting categories. To date, only five performer have won consecutive Oscars: Best Actress Luise Rainer (The Great Ziegfeld, 1936; The Good Earth, 1937), who turns 104 (!) next January 12; Best Actor Spencer Tracy (Captains Courageous, 1937; Boys Town, 1938); Best Actress Katharine Hepburn (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, 1967; The Lion in Winter, 1968 – shared with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl), Best Supporting Actor Jason Robards (All the President's Men, 1976; Julia, 1977); and Best Actor Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, 1993; Forrest Gump, 1994).
- Julia Roberts, for her part, will be getting her fourth Oscar nomination, and second Best Supporting Actress nod. Roberts was shortlisted as Best Supporting Actress for Herbert Ross' Steel Magnolias (1989), and as Best Actress for Garry Marshall's Pretty Woman (1990) and Steven Soderbergh's Erin Brockovich (2000). She won for the Soderbergh film.
*As an aside, veteran Peggy Ashcroft (Romeo and Juliet, opposite Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud onstage; Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps) was absent from the 1985 Oscar ceremony. She canceled her appearance on the show to attend the funeral of Michael Redgrave, father of Best Actress nominee Vanessa Redgrave (The Bostonians). Ashcroft ultimately came down with the flu, and was thus unable to attend Redgrave's funeral as well.
Likely Best Supporting Actress Oscar contender Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle photo: Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures.