A strong set of previous Oscar winners could annihilate the chances for a promising group of newcomers who are hoping for their first nomination in the supporting actress category. Sally Field, Helen Hunt, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Nicole Kidman, Frances McDormand, Shirley MacLaine, and Susan Sarandon — not to mention three-time nominee Amy Adams — all shine brightly in their respective films. So will the veterans, who have successfully played this game before, dominate the field (as they are threatening to do in the corresponding male supporting category) or can a new class break through? And then there is the case of Les Misérables: Universal started screening the film Thanksgiving weekend and will continue through its Christmas Day release. It offers strong female roles to at least four actresses who could fill a category all by themselves. Can Les Mis be the first movie since Tom Jones in 1963 to nab three supporting actress nominations? It’s the kind of stuff that makes the Oscars so damned interesting. Here are the contenders.
Sally Field | Lincoln
The two-time best actress winner (Norma Rae, Places in the Heart) and three-time Emmy winner is now 66 and actually insisted on being tested for the role of Mary Todd Lincoln, which she says she knew would be hers even though Steven Spielberg said it wasn’t to be. She proved him wrong, and voters might really respond to Field’s pluck in landing the role and bringing it on in a series of emotional scenes opposite Daniel Day-Lewis. Will Oscar like her, really like her, a third time?
Anne Hathaway | Les Misérables
As Fantine, Hathaway has been out front ever since Universal began releasing snippets of her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” one of the signature songs in the Les Mis score. The role just has the smell of Oscar all over it, plus she’s got that deglammed down-and-dirty look, but will competition from three other women in the cast lessen her chances or can she rise to the top? (more…)