At least three of the spots in Oscar’s supporting actress category have been sewn up since the start of the awards season—one for triple-A method actress and Golden Globe-winner Melissa Leo in The Fighter, a second for her costar and possible Oscar-night spoiler Amy Adams, the around-the-way alpha to Leo’s Medea-like omega, with Helena Bonham Carter happy to be riding shotgun for her piffle of a performance in The King’s Speech, wondering if her winsome solicitation of Geoffrey Rush’s services for her king of a husband, or her winsome intake of stammer-proofing breath, will constitute her likely nanosecond-length Oscar clip. By most accounts, True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld is also a lock, but like everyone else, we have to ask, “In which category?”
We’re going out on a not-so-long limb and predicting that the True Grit star (yes, star), whose lack of a Golden Globe nomination may be diagnosed as a symptom of the increasingly rampant Categorius Confusius, will be a Best Actress nominee come Tuesday. This should come as a shock to no one, at least to close watchers of the yearly Oscar race: Steinfeld, who just received a BAFTA nomination for Leading Actress, may have shown up in the supporting category when the SAG nominations were announced last month, but that’s where Keisha-Castle Hughes (The Whale Rider) and Kate Winslet (The Reader) also appeared prior to subsequently securing Best Actress Oscar nominations for the same performances. AMPAS voters are suckers. That ain’t news, but this is one con regularly perpetrated by desperate award campaigners and bobble-headed pundits that they’ve proven themselves increasingly immune to. Besides, that the where-will-Steinfeld-show-up conversation has become one of the loudest so far of the Oscar season almost guarantees that the actress will show up exactly where she belongs.
So, Steinfeld’s absence here essentially clears the way for the two actresses who’ve been sitting on the nomination fence since the start of the awards season, kicking their feet and waiting for Steinfeld to pick a direction in which to follow the blood meridian: Aussie acting vet Jacki Weaver for her merrily odious granny in Animal Kingdom and Mila Kunis for the ecstasy-popping, labia-licking ballerina in Black Swan. Despite being slighted by the American-centric SAG, Weaver has remained close to a lock nonetheless, having had the back of critics since the National Board of Review anointed the actress’s performance in the David Michôd crime drama, and now Kunis is close to one as well what with audiences having followed the lead of tongue-agog critics by validating Darren Aronofsky’s straight male fantasy. Welcome to the Oscars, celebrating the craft of acting and extolling your wildest dreams since 1929.