Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Laura Linney, Kinsey
Virginia Madsen, Sideways
Sophie Okenedo, Hotel Rwanda
Natalie Portman, Closer
Will Win: Cate Blanchett
The conventional wisdom would suggest that Madsen has this one in the bag. That tricky ol' floating signifier we
call "Oscar" has a thing for girls who look good in starlight, and this award in particular almost always goes to a
woman whose stardom is either being made or remade by the role in question. All those signs point to Madsen, a former
it-girl who had completely slipped off the radar until her nominated role in Sideways. Plus, she's been doing
press everywhere, which never hurts.
However, for whatever reasons, the conventional wisdom seems to hold little weight this year - with the exception of Best Actor, all of the performance categories are unusually close, and this one is no exception. There is not a single also-ran in this race Laura Linney is probably the only candidate we can count right out, as there is little buzz, at this point, surrounding either the performance or the film - but it may depend on how early voters turned in their ballots, because a few weeks ago, that wasn't the case. Meanwhile, I'm hearing more and more about Sophie Okenedo's performance - if there's an upset for the night, I think this might be it.
Nonetheless, Madsen and Natalie Portman have split about half of the critics' prizes, and Blanchett has picked up the rest, giving her the probable edge. I'd say it's still far from a sure thing - plenty of viewers were just annoyed by the very idea of an impersonation of Kate Hepburn - but it's the safest bet.
Should Win: Laura Linney
Honestly, if I was a voter, I'd probably abstain, on account of this race involving too much pre-vote thought. But Blanchett's performance - though I acknowledge its skill - got on my nerves, and whilst Madsen was luminous, she didn't have a whole lot to do. Portman's nomination is just an acknowledgement that she's sucessfully graduated into adult roles, and I simply wasn't blown away by Hotel Rwanda. Linney stands out to me as the one actress in the category who deserves an Oscar as reparation for many fine performances over-looked.