2008 Oscar Analysis: Best Supporting Actress

Cate BlanchettIs there any question that Cate Blanchett is going to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 2008 Academy Awards? The actress is by far and away the most powerful person in the category, and her performance the most memorable.

Hell, Cate Blanchett is the only reason people went to go see I’m Not There, the officially weird but surprising excellent metaphor to Bob Dylan’s life. After all, Blanchett plays one of six versions of Dylan in the film, and if it’s hard to play the opposite sex, Blanchett doesn’t sweat a drop. The movie noticeably picks up its pace when she arrives on camera, and turns in one of the most dazzling performances ever captured on film.

As for the others, there’s not much competition. Ruby Dee in American Gangster? Seriously? That film lost its Oscar steam a long way back, and the only thing going for her is that the Denzel Washington/Russell Crowe film is about to arrive on DVD (but when are votes due?). I don’t remember a single thing about Dee’s performance, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason for her nomination other than a lack of good supporting female leads this year.

I was not a huge fan of Saoirse Ronan in Atonement. I absolutely loved the movie, but Ronan seemed a bit out of her element. OK, she still does a pretty good job (I noticed more the second time I saw the movie), but an Oscar-winning job? I don’t think so. [Correction: I completely confused Ronan with Romala Garai – two odd names, you know. I wasn’t a huge fan of Garai, but in fact thought Ronan was terrific as the young Briony. Behind Cate Blanchett, Ronan would be my pick]

Gone Baby Gone was another very good film, and Amy Ryan did a very good job portraying a loser of a mother. That being said, when I was watching the movie, I was never blown away by her performance. I’m not too surprised she was nominated, but she sure as hell isn’t going to win.

The best competition for Cate Blanchett is Tilda Swinton, who plays a stone cold corporate executive in Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney. She has a relatively small role, but she is commanding in every scene; way back in October or whenever I saw this film, I thought at the time that she could be a front runner for an Oscar. Still, compared to Blanchett, Swinton isn’t nearly as memorable; and I haven’t heard any buzz about her, either.

Overall, these nominations don’t surprise me too much; there was a lack of good supporting actresses in 2007, and these are probably the best of the bunch. Allison Janney in Juno is the only other person I can think of off the top of my head who could have been up for the award.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Awards & Oscars
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