2014 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominees. FilmBook continues its coverage of the 86th Annual Academy Awards with an analysis of the Best Supporting Actress category, which features two previous Best Actress Oscar winners and three actresses who have never before been nominated for an acting Oscar.
Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) –
Who She Plays: Nominated for her first acting Oscar after several deserving performances went unnoticed, the British Hawkins plays Ginger, who tip-toes around her sister Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) after severe mental illness and financial collapse leave her in a fragile and deluded state.
Why She Deserves To Win: With a real sense of touching sisterly love, Hawkins treads the line between supporting Jasmine as she regains her footing and enabling her sister’s alcoholism and habitual lies. Her authenticity endears her to viewers.
Key Scene: Hawkins makes a lasting impression when she boldly and defiantly holds her own against an angry blue-collar boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale) upset about her suspected dalliance with another man she met at an upscale party.
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) –
Who She Plays: Last year’s winner of the Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook returns this year with her performance of Rosalyn Rosenfeld, the wonderfully naïve and lovable wife of Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who unknowingly threatens to expose the elaborate FBI sting operation he’s been enlisted to assist with in order to avoid prosecution for his crimes.
Why She Deserves To Win: Aided by a generous script, Lawrence brings down the house with her spot-on comedic timing. Her greatest triumph is managing to steal every scene she’s in from her co-stars (Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner) in a movie full of Oscar-nominated performances – and she does this with less screen-time than each and every one of them.
Key Scene: After Lawrence lets slip to a mobster and romantic interest that her husband is involved with the government, Irving confronts Lawrence and, boy, does she manipulate the hell out of him while leaving the audience downright impressed and uproarious.
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) –
Who She Plays: In her first feature film after graduating from the esteemed Yale University School of Drama, the Kenyan-born and Mexico-raised Nyong’o portrays Patsey, a hard-working slave that heartbreakingly proves that no good deed goes unpunished.
Why She Deserves To Win: With just a few meaty scenes and minimal dialogue, Nyong’o comes to define the film’s heart and soul. She renders a humble and gracious performance whose tragic qualities linger in the mind for days. The sheer hopelessness of Patsey’s situation is well-read on Nyong’o’s resilient face, and it’s what the audience remembers most when exiting the theatre.
Key Scene: Nyong’o’s fluid-like transformation as she goes from excited, to reassuring, to begging, to anger as her request for a terminal mercy is immediately rejected by an unsympathetic Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) converts the audience to her side in their divergent views about God’s will and Hell on Earth.
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County) –
Who She Plays: With no makeup and gray roots in her hair, the 90’s darling plays against type as Barbara Weston, the complicated and short-fused daughter of the pill-popping Violet Weston (Meryl Streep), whose visit to the family estate after her father’s suicide explodes long-estranged familial relationships.
Why She Deserves To Win: Julia masks her character’s pain with a rage that we’ve not seen from her after a long and successful career of mostly light-hearted fare. While her performance isn’t exactly subtle, she effectively illustrates the stress and conflicting priorities that weigh heavily on middle-aged adults as they attempt to care for their growing children and aging parents; Baby Boomers will relate.
Key Scene: Julia relishes in the opportunity to take down her mother – literally – after a downright nasty and passive-aggressive funeral dinner, roaring with unrestrained resentment that bellows throughout the household with authority.
June Squibb (Nebraska) –
Who She Plays: After close friend and fellow actress Margo Martindale tipped her off about the role, Squibb secured the part of Kate Grant, the judgmental, in-your-face wife of Alzheimer’s-afflicted Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) that always has something mean and disapproving to say.
Why She Deserves To Win: At age 84, Squibb pops from the big screen with life and personality in a black-and-white film full of dry humor. She leaves self-doubt at the door and launches a full-bore, sweet-and-sour assault on her character’s family, taking no prisoners as she reveals the shortcomings of everyone around her.
Key Scene: Upon return to the town of her childhood, Squibb swiftly and acerbically insults every single dead relative in the town cemetery, trotting from gravestone to gravestone and leaving no secret untold as she trashes those once close to her – but always with a little love and affection.
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