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Sunday, February 20, 2011
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HAILEE’S COMET: ACADEMY AWARDS VERY RARE FOR BIG SCREEN DEBUTS

There are a significant number of pundits who are betting that Hailee Steinfeld, the 14-year-old star of “True Grit,” will win the best supporting actress Oscar over Melissa Leo, the veteran thespian who won top honors this year from the BFCA, HFPA, and SAG for her performance in “The Fighter.” As great as Steinfeld is in her film — and she is great — the following stat may make them reconsider their pick…

Over the 73 years prior to this year in which the Academy Awards featured a best supporting actress category, only eight women who were nominated in it for their big screen debut — as is Steinfeld — wound up taking home the Oscar. That’s less than 11% of them. They were…

This is not at all to say that Steinfeld can’t win… just that the odds are certainly stacked high against her.

Credit: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, and Hailee Steinfeld on the set of “True Grit.” Credit: Paramount.

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  • Jamey

    The reason why i’m still picking steinfield is the listed on your stats.

    Anna Paquin and Tatum O’Neal both did it. They have something in common with Hailee they were are very young. Oscars do have a soft spot for young actors especially in supporting categories.

    I’ve felt since day one that Adams and Leo would split the vote. With Leo’s PR mishap I think that did the trick. I also wouldn’t count Helena Bonham Carter.

  • Jamey

    The reason why i’m still picking steinfield is the listed on your stats.

    Anna Paquin and Tatum O’Neal both did it. They have something in common with Hailee they were are very young. Oscars do have a soft spot for young actors especially in supporting categories.

    I’ve felt since day one that Adams and Leo would split the vote. With Leo’s PR mishap I think that did the trick. I also wouldn’t count Helena Bonham Carter.

  • Jamey

    The reason why i’m still picking steinfield is the listed on your stats.

    Anna Paquin and Tatum O’Neal both did it. They have something in common with Hailee they were are very young. Oscars do have a soft spot for young actors especially in supporting categories.

    I’ve felt since day one that Adams and Leo would split the vote. With Leo’s PR mishap I think that did the trick. I also wouldn’t count Helena Bonham Carter.

  • http://iwatchiread.com Laya Maheshwari

    Wouldn’t a more relevant stat be the percentage of first-time nominees who won?

    Yeah, only 8 debutantes have won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar but how many of them were nominated? And after that, how frequently do the nominated ones win?

    • http://ScottFeinberg.com Scott Feinberg

      According to Filmsite.org (which, unlike me, counts people who won for their first “substantial film role,” as opposed to just their first film role):

      Only eleven actresses have won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for their debut performance (in a feature film) in a substantial film role, while many others (a sampling) received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for a substantial role in a film debut (or during the first year of their career):

      * (1) Gale Sondergaard in Anthony Adverse (1936) (win) – she won the first year of the Best Supporting Actress category was honored
      * Miliza Korjus in The Great Waltz (1938) (nomination)
      * Teresa Wright in The Little Foxes (1941) (nomination)
      * Patricia Collinge in The Little Foxes (1941) (nomination)
      * (2) Katina Paxinou in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) (win)
      * Angela Lansbury in Gaslight (1944) (nomination)
      * (3) Mercedes McCambridge in All the King’s Men (1949) (win)
      * Lee Grant in Detective Story (1951) (nomination)
      * Colette Marchand in Moulin Rouge (1952) (nomination)
      * (4) Eva Marie Saint in On the Waterfront (1954) (win)
      * (5) Jo Van Fleet in East of Eden (1955) (win)
      * Diane Varsi in Peyton Place (1957) (nomination)
      * (6) Miyoshi Umeki in Sayonara (1957) (win)
      * Maureen Stapleton in Lonelyhearts (1958) (nomination) (she finally won for Reds (1981))
      * Mary Badham in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) (nomination)
      * Vivien Merchant in Alfie (1966) (nomination)
      * Jocelyne LaGarde in Hawaii (1966) (nomination)
      * Sondra Locke in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968) (nomination)
      * (7) Goldie Hawn in Cactus Flower (1969) (win)
      * Catherine Burns in Last Summer (1969) (nomination)
      * (8) Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon (1973) (win)
      * Leslie Browne in The Turning Point (1977) (nomination)
      * Cathy Moriarty in Raging Bull (1980) (nomination)
      * Oprah Winfrey in The Color Purple (1985) (nomination)
      * (9) Anna Paquin in The Piano (1993) (win)
      * (10) Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls (2006) (win)
      * (11) Mo’Nique in Precious (2009) (win)

  • Jake D.

    8 out of 27? That’s 29.6%. That’s better than the 20% that you’d normally get from being one of five competitors.

    That means an actress is actually MORE likely to win the supporting actress Oscar if it’s her first role.

    And both Tatum O’Neal and Anna Paquin are pretty good precedent for Hailee’s win. Young, screen debut, lead role pushed into supporting…

  • Joe G

    Would Patty Duke also fall into this category?

  • Jadart

    This is not her first film…..I thought you’d know that Mr Smarty-Pants

    • http://ScottFeinberg.com Scott Feinberg

      This *is* her first feature film, which was clearly what I meant since that applied to the others too, but thanks for the attitude

  • Samuel R.S. Coffey

    But just take a gander at O’Neal and Paquin. Both arguably Lead or Co-Lead in their films, were young girls, and won for their first screen performance.

    The stat is relatively low for supporting women in general trying to win with their first film, but for CHILDREN actresses in the same situation? The stat is much higher than 11%, I’d imagine.

  • Domke12

    I would love for Hailee to win but I think that Bonham Carter will take it. Just like Tilda Swinton surprised everyone (because no one expected her top win) this year is either Steinfeld or Bonham Carter. Melissa Leo did nothing special in Fighter. She was good but not Oscar worthy. I barely even noticed her in the movie

  • David

    This has been the most interesting category of this Oscar season for me anyway. Before the nominations I could not predict a winner or the 5 likelys. Once noms were announced, i felt Steinfeld would win, and i still am predicting it, but it could still go any which way! A showing of 10 noms for True Grit, and a possible win in only 2 categories – Cinematography and Supp actress, may reflect the Academy love of this film and its film makers. As an Aussie, i would love to see Jacki Weaver prevail – but it would be a Brenda Fricker, Marisa Tomei type of win – pretty left field. Fricker had her lead actor win, Tomei came out of nowhere too, but i feel Weaver is probably last of her 5. I don’t see Carter win here or Adams, so the experienced character actress -v- teenager.
    Paquin and O’neal are good precedents in my view, it has been sixteen years since a juvenile win, so will respectfully diasgree with our host, Scott and still see Hailee’s debut as a factor for her to win.

  • Samuel R.S. Coffey

    The Tilda comparison with the BAFTA Bump doesn’t really work. The King’s Speech is already winning at least 5 Oscars, whereas Michael Clayton was looking at going 0-7; Tilda was a respected actress with a good performance in a category that had seen 4 different winners in all the major precursors.

    That’s not the case this year. Leo is a respected industry actress who swept–SWEPT–the BCFA, Globe, and SAG. The only reason people aren’t buying her inevitable win is because they’re trying to pump fuel into a less-than-wide-open category.

  • http://hollywoodtaste.blogspot.com/ GL

    The reason why I think she is going to win is, 1 Leo went political during the SAGs and her speeched haven’t been perfect. Plus the ads, and BAFTA ommision I think she lost traction. 2 The Academy enjoyed “True Grit” more than they did with “The Fighter”. They are not going to award “The Fighter” 2 acting categories and give “True Grit” with less than that. Bale will take Supporting Actor while Steinfeld will claim Surpportive Actress. And I hope this won’t be taken as me bashing Leo, listen I loved her performance but all the nominees as as deserving and this is a race, the strongest wins and Leo has somewhat proven to be loosely “unstable”. Steinfeld’s role is very similar to both O’neil’s and Paquin’s. If they did it, she will win. And this thing about first timers not having a chance not so true specially when it comes to supportive categories. Mo’nique, Hudson, Swinton, Paquin, O’neil, so many have done well when it was their time to shine. Steinfeld will win. Or Carter…but Leo at this point I don’t think so.

    • http://twitter.com/sosgemini Nicholas

      Leo went politic? You mean pro-union at a union event in a room full of pro-union liberals? Help me here, how is this bad?

  • Samuel R.S. Coffey

    It seems unstable because it’s the only one without a “story” behind it and of the 4, it’s got the only non-famous person leading the way, therefore we all think and want to to be an open race. This just isn’t the case. There’s nothing pointing towards an upset; she was snubbed at the BAFTAs because the film was poorly received there and they don’t know who the heck she is over in London. Yes, they loved True Grit, but in 2002 they also loved Gangs of New York and have it a goose egg.

    Just because Steinfeld reminds is of other child Oscar winners doesn’t mean she’s bound to repeat. Leo is in a movie that was loved, and no one can argue that. Tied for the most acting nominations, and the directors lauded Russell even with his track record.

    Leo is still in the lead, no matter how much we want to inflate the threat of her co-nominees. She’s going to win.