Potential Upset Looms Over Anne Hathaway And The Best Supporting Actress Race As Oscars Approach
By Joey Magidson
From the moment the first trailer for Les Miserables hit the web, Anne Hathaway was pegged as the frontrunner and odds-on favorite for Best Supporting Actress. The initial press screenings did nothing to dissuade that line of thinking, and things only solidified for Hathaway when the film opened. Going into the precursors, she seemed to be sitting pretty.
Here’s where it gets funny, though. Hathaway has swept the precursors, but unlike Daniel Day-Lewis, her candidacy has only gotten shakier, not sturdier. She’s won everything, but support has slowly withered.
Why is this happening to only her? It’s hard to say, but the awards season always seems to have people turning on their own, and I think this is one of those cases. It may ultimately not matter, but Hathaway’s star has dimmed at least a little bit as the season comes to a conclusion.
One reason that suggestion has been floated has relates to how many are finding her acceptance speeches mediocre at best and grating at worst. That may not mean a whole lot in theory, but Oscar voters are sometimes overly concerned with their winners making solid acceptance speeches.
The other factor to take note of is how small of a performance Hathaway’s really is. Hathaway is the highlight of Les Miserables for plenty, but she only has one scene to really shine in. That hasn’t stopped people in similar situations from getting nominated, especially in supporting categories, but they don’t often win. Still, the amount of people who feel Hathaway doesn’t deserve to win based on the quality of her performance is somewhat slim, and it seems like a fait accomplii that she’s about take the Oscar. Nonetheless, these dings could wind up mattering.
Voting has now ended, so members of the Academy have already submitted their choices, a number of chinks have begun to show in Hathaway’s armor. We’ll know in a few days if she was able to ultimately withstand it, but unlike Day-Lewis, all of her wins wound up hurting her to some degree.
This lack of goodwill toward the actress allows for us to discuss the other contenders in a way we’ve mostly ignored since the precursors began. Now, I’m not suggesting that Hathaway is going to lose, but if she does, it pays to know who might win.
Amy Adams is approaching the point at which she’s considered “due” for a win, but it doesn’t seem like The Master is the film to do it for her. Four nominations in this very category over the last seven years shows how well liked she is, but it doesn’t seem like voters are ready to fully welcome her to the club. It seems like they’re waiting for the perfect role. I’m not sure when that will come, but when it does, it’ll be a coronation.
Had her film been more warmly accepted by the Academy, I think Adams could have had a real shot here. The Master received Oscar attention for its acting trio, but nothing more. Had Joaquin Phoenix been the frontrunner in Best Actor, Adams would have a chance here in Supporting Actress. She’s definitely going to win an Oscar one day — this ceremony just won’t be the one.
Sally Field was the one most of us predicted before Hathaway came on the scene, and while she’s very good in Lincoln, it just doesn’t seem like Academy members are in love enough with the film to give Field a third Oscar. They feel that way in regard to Day-Lewis, but he’s a special exception here. The former frontrunner did go toe-to-toe with the likely Best Actor winner, so she’ll have certainly impressed some voters.
If it turns out that Lincoln wins a bunch of Oscars this weekend, I wouldn’t put it past them to throw one Field’s way too — but it really doesn’t look like that’s in the cards. Field always felt like the type of frontrunner that was destined to fall short, and once Hathaway came on the scene, it was easy to brush her aside somewhat. I wouldn’t be shocked by a Field win, but it’s an unlikely victory.
Helen Hunt is the sole representative for The Sessions, and while that should be the kiss of death, I do think she has a halfway decent chance at an unlikely win. She’s got the comeback story working in her favor, something no one else in the category has. There are a number of factors that make her a contender worth considering, including the fact that she has the most screen time of the nominees. It’s really a co-lead (which is catnip to some voters), and Hunt happens to be naked for much of her time on the screen.
Being a prior winner both helps and hurts Hunt here, but I’m not convinced it makes too much of a difference in the end. Without a John Hawkes nomination to help propel momentum, the film feels like an afterthought in the race. That being said, voters obviously preferred her work, so I’m sure she’s far from the last-place finisher here.
Finally, we have Jacki Weaver, a nominee who surprised many (though not Scott and myself) by breaking into the final field of five. Weaver was buoyed by the strong love for Silver Linings Playbook, and the fact that we’re hearing reports of fans of that film voting for it in every category possible makes me think she’s definitely not the least likely winner. Her movie has become perhaps the most popular of any among Academy members, so that could result in her being swept to a surprise win.
I still think Hathaway will wind up taking the statue, but if she’s on pace to be upset, who will be the beneficiary? That’s hard to tell right now, but I think it could be someone few expect: Jacki Weaver.
The smart money should stay on Hathaway, but she’s just not the foregone conclusion that she seemed a few weeks ago.