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There are only a few days left until the 2014 Academy Awards, so most of our predictions are solidified by now. But even though Cate Blanchett appears to be a lock for Best Actress and Alfonso Cuaron has the highest odds of winning Best Director, there's still one race that's impossible to guess: Best Supporting Actress. The two candidates who could snag the trophy are Lupita Nyong'o for her work in 12 Years a Slave and Jennifer Lawrence for her performance in American Hustle.
Normally, we could just rely on the previous awards shows to help influence our predictions. Blanchett and Cuaron have both swept their categories, as have Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto (who we think will take Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively). But Lawrence and Nyong'o have split the opinions of the various awards organizations, which means the Oscar is still anyone's game. In an attempt to solve this problem once and for all and help you solidify your Oscar pool, we've taken a look back at all of the women who have won Best Supporting Actress in order to see if we could use the winners of yesteryear to determine who will walk home with the trophy on Oscar night.
Major Precursor Awards Won: 2 (for each)Lawrence won both the Golden Globe and the BAFTA for her role as Rosalyn Rosenfeld, while Nyong'o picked up the Critic's Choice Award and the Screen Actor's Guild Award for playing the slave girl Patsey.
Actresses 25 and Under Who Won Best Supporting Actress: 8If Lawrence, who at 23 is the youngest actress to earn 3 Oscar nominations, were to take home the award on Sunday, she would join a list of young winners that includes Tatum O’Neal, Patty Duke, Goldie Hawn, Anna Paquin, Jennifer Hudson, Angelina Jolie, Teresa Wright, and Anne Baxter.
Actresses Between 25 and 30 Who Won Best Supporting Actress: 13At 30, Nyong'o would be in good company as a Best Supporting Actress winner, as Shirley Jones, Mary Steenburgen, Marisa Tomei, Mira Sorvino, Miyoshi Umecki, Gloria Grahame, Kim Hunter, Sandy Dennis, Rita Moreno, Eva Marie Saint, Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep and Celeste Holm also took home an Oscar around the same age.
Best Supporting Actress Winners Who Won for Their First Performance: 9It's hard to believe that 12 Years a Slave is Nyong'o's first feature film, but she's not the only actress to impress the Academy with her debut perfomance: Katina Paxinou, Mercedes McCambridge, Eva Marie Saint, Jo Van Fleet, Tatum O’Neal, Goldie Hawn, Miyoshi Umecki, Anna Paquin, and Jennifer Hudson all stunned on their first try.
Actresses Who Won Best Supporting Actress After Winning Best Actress: 3 After winning for Silver Lining's Playbook at last year's awards, Lawrence would join an elite club of women who topped their Best Actress win with a Best Supporting Actress trophy. : Helen Hayes, who won Best Actress for her work in The Sin of Madelon Claudet in 1931 and Best Supporting Actress for Airport in 1970, Ingrid Bergman, who took home Best Actress for Gaslight in 1944 and Anastasia in 1956 then won Best Supporting Actress in 1974 for Murder on the Orient Express, and Maggie Smith, who was awarded Best Actress for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie 1969 and followed it up with Best Supporting Actress for California Suite 1978.
Best Supporting Actress Winners Who Won on Their First Nomination: 51The Best Supporting Actress category has been particularly kind to newcomers, with 51 actresses who have taken home gold on their first nomination (a fact that bodes well for Nyong'o). If she wins, she would be added to the long list that includes Gale Sondergaard, Hattie McDaniel, Jane Darwell, Mary Astor, Katina Paxinou, Ethel Barrymore, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm, Mercedes McCambridge, Josephine Hull, Kim Hunter, Donna Reed, Eva Marie Saint, Jo Van Fleet, Dorothy Malone, Miyoshi Umecki, Shirley Jones, Rita Moreno, Patty Duke, Margaret Rutherford, Lila Kedrova, Sandy Dennis, Estelle Parsons, Goldie Hawn, Cloris Leachmann, Tatum O’Neal, Beatrice Straight, Mary Steenburgen, Jessica Lange, Linda Hunt, Peggy Ashcroft, Anjelica Huston, Dianne Wiest, Olympia Dukakis, Geena Davis, Brenda Fricker, Mercedes Ruehl, Marisa Tomei, Anna Paquin, Mira Sorvino, Juliette Binoche, Kim Basinger, Angelina Jolie, Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Connolly, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Hudson, Tilda Swinton, Mo’Nique, and Octavia Spencer.
Actresses Who Have Won Best Supporting Actress for a Comedic Role: 7Although the Academy tends to favor dramatic performances, the Supporting Actor and Actress categories often reward more comedic roles, like Lawrence's. If she wins, she would join the seven other women who laughed their way to an Oscar: Josephine Hull for Harvey, Goldie Hawn for Cactus Flower, Maggie Smith for California Suite, Olympia Dukakis for Moonstruck, Marisa Tomei for My Cousin Vinny, Mira Sorvino for Mighty Aphrodite, and Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Actresses Who Have Won Best Supporting Actress Winners For Playing Servants: 3Although Nyong'o would be the first Best Supporting Actress winner to win for portraying a slave, three women have previously won for playing servants: Gale Sondergaard, Hattie McDaniel, and Octavia Spencer.
Actresses Who Have Won Best Supporting Actress for Playing the Wife of the Lead: 7Before Rosalyn Rosenfeld came along to "inspire" her husband Iriving, there were countless other wives who played a key role in their husband's stories, and seven actresses won an Oscar for playing them: Mary Astor, Kim Hunter, Gloria Grahame, Jennifer Connolly, Rachel Weisz, Meryl Streep, and Mary Steenburgen.
Black Women Who Have Won Best Supporting Actress: 4If Nyong'o takes home the Oscar on Sunday, she will become only the fifth black woman to win Best Supporting Actress, and just the sixth black woman to win an acting Oscar overall. The previous Best Supporting Actress winners are Hattie McDaniel, Whoopi Goldberg, Mo’Nique, and Octavia Spencer, while Halle Berry is the lone black Best Actress winner.
Actresses Who Have Won Best Supporting Actress for Playing a Character with a New York Accent: 2Whether you love Lawrence's accent in American Hustle or it makes you want to stab yourself in the ears, there's no denying that the New York accent is a tricky one to pull off. Only two women have done it well enough to earn an Oscar: Marisa Tomei as the wise-cracking fianceè of the title character in My Cousin Vinny and Olympia Dukakis as Cher's mother in Moonstruck.
Our Prediction: Lupita Nyong'o Despite being evenly matched, we think that the combination of 12 Years a Slave being Nyong'o's film debut, as well as her first nomination will help swing the votes in her favor, as the Academy has proven that there's nothing it loves more than an impressive breakthrough performance. Plus, she deserves it, and we have to believe that there is some semblance of justice left in this world.
The final months of the Civil War a time when President Abraham Lincoln struggled to end slavery and bring the Confederate States of America back into the fold of the Union are among the most important moments in Unites States history. They're also the murkiest. Eleventh grade American History tried to teach us — war four scores Emancipation Proclamation the 13th Amendment and a fateful night at the theater — but with a few hundred years' worth of events to process most people leave school knowing that Lincoln made a couple of important moves that turned the world what it is today.
Thankfully we now have a film courtesy of the legendary Steven Spielberg that brings the 16th President's amazing uphill battle to cinematic life. The cold hard facts could not be more impressive.
For Lincoln an adaptation of the Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln Spielberg scales down his usual blockbuster sensibilities (last seen in 2011's World War I melodrama War Horse) to craft an intimate portrait of an iconic political figure. To pull it off writer Tony Kushner (Munich and the two-part Angels in America) constructs the film like a play relying on the soothing chameleon presence of Daniel Day-Lewis to breath life into Lincoln's poetic waxing. The president hits roadblock after roadblock on his quest to free the slaves and end the war Kushner and Spielberg weaving in handfuls of characters to pull him in various directions (and accurately represent the real life events). Each time Day-Lewis' Lincoln gracefully dances the dance solving every problem with action and words. Today Lincoln is held in high regard as an inspirational figure. Spielberg shows us why.
Lincoln isn't a full-blown birth-to-death biopic of the Great Emancipator and is all the better for it. Picking up in January of 1865 years into the Civil War Lincoln summons his Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) to say enough is enough — the time is ripe for the abolishing of slavery. Against the vocal naysayers of the Union and even his personal confidants Lincoln attempts to rally the congressmen he needs to make his bill an amendment. He hires three men (John Hawkes Tim Blake Nelson and the wonderfully outrageous James Spader) to use whatever nonviolent means possible to swing the vote. All the while well-spoken adversaries (like Lee Pace's Fernando Wood) take to the House of Representatives floor to discredit Lincoln and dissuade congressmen. Keeping the progressive foot in the door is Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) a foul-mouthed powerhouse who shares Lincoln's ambitious dreams of equality.
The story is simple but Kushner doesn't shy away from laying down lengthy passages of political discussion in order to show the importance of Lincoln's task. It's dense material spruced up with Kushner's ear for dialogue. But even so it occasionally meanders into Ken Burns documentary territory. Case in point: there are so many characters with beards in Lincoln Spielberg even flashes title cards underneath their opening scenes just so we're not lost. The fact-heavy approach takes getting used to but Spielberg and Kushner adeptly dig deep beyond the political gabfest to find a human side to Lincoln. He's a gentle man a warm man and a hilarious man. The duo's Honest Abe never shies away from a good story — at times he's like Grandpa from The Simpsons lost in his own anecdotes (much to the dismay of his cabinet). Day-Lewis chews scenery as hinted at in the trailers but with absolute restraint. That makes his sudden outbursts really pop. When Lincoln becomes fed up with pussyfooting politicians like the quivering representatives played by Walton Goggins and Michael Stuhlbarg Day-Lewis cranks the high-pitched president up to 10. He never falters.
There's a great deal of humor and heart in Lincoln — partially because the circus-like antics of Washington D.C. feel all too close-to-home in this day and age — and Spielberg paces it all with expert camera work. The drama is iffier: a side story involving Lincoln's son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) teases an interesting family dynamic that is never fully explored and is clunky when dropped to the wayside in favor of larger issues. Same goes for Lincoln's wife Mary Todd (Sally Field) who continues to grieve for the couple's lost child. They are important issues but they don't quite work in the fabric of this specific narrative.
The larger world outside the offices of the White House and Congress is often forgotten too — we hear a lot of war talk without seeing a whole lot of war. Instances where Lincoln ventures out into fields of the dead have emotional impact but we feel disconnected from it. Where Spielberg really gets it right is in the chaos of the presidential occupation. There is no easy task for Lincoln. "I may have been wrong about that " says Abe referencing his issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation "but I wanted the people to tell me if I was." Day-Lewis understands Lincoln's complex internal thought and brings it forward in each scene: humble confident deadly and compassionate.
Spielberg's technical team once again wows and echoes the lead performance. Director of Photography Janusz Kaminski's contrasting photography near chiaroscuro makes the beautiful set and production design hyper real and highlights the actors' aging faces. Composer John Williams returns once again but with a score as low-key as Day-Lewis' character — a change of pace when compared to War Horse. It's all up to par with Spielberg's past work without turning Lincoln into a flashy period drama.
Day-Lewis was the talk of the town when the first Lincoln trailers made their way on the web. Surprisingly however Lincoln wows because it's a well-balanced ensemble drama. Lee Jones delivers his best work in a decade as the grouchy idealist Spader delivers the comedic performance of the fall season and every scene introduces another familiar face to add additional gravitas to the picture (as opposed to being a distracting cameo fest). S. Epatha Merkerson's late-in-the-game scene opens up the tear ducts in a way that none of her male costars can.
If history isn't one of your interests Lincoln may not rouse you — background reading not required but conversation moves at lightning speed and without much hand-holding. It's a change of pace for Spielberg and a welcome one. With all the bells and whistles that come with being the biggest director of all time Lincoln looks amazing sounds amazing and has enough talent to make it an exhilarating learning experience.