Yesterday I talked a great deal about the supporting actor race, which was far from concrete and boasted plenty of weak performances in roles of the Academy mold as well as strong performances that are far outside that mold. For men in cinema, it often relies on that key factor of going for the gut. The key job of a supporting actor is often to be that antagonistic presence, and that's what's payed off most in the past. The supporting actress branch is often seen as something quite different, but history has shown that inclination to believe female winners aren't as vicious performances as men to be false.
Mo'Nique in "Precious" is the prime example of that, but also Melissa Leo ("The Fighter") and Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Christina Barcelona") in a certain way. They're not hardcore villains, as they have redeeming factors, but they've got those unstable problems in them. I'd like to think the trend will continue, but I can't say anything for certain. After all, the most assured nomination in this category for this year thus far, is Octavia Spencer for "The Help". God willing, she's not going to ever be the frontrunner this year. Not that I don't like her performance, but there as absolutely nothing spectacular about it.
There is another performance that's gotten plenty of buzz out of the festival walls, and that's Vanessa Redgrave for "Coriolanus". The trailer keep something of a lid on that, but the buzz is there, and looking at the Academy's fancy for her in the past, I'd say she's a likely bet. The rest of the players seem like little more than conjecture, with Shailene Woodley of "The Descendants" on the top of that pack. There's bound to be some joking about Woodley's tenure in "The Secret Life of the American Teenager", but it should be more than just joking. The trailers haven't shown anything more than the typical melodrama I'd seen from Woodley before. She's just plain, in my own opinion.
Beyond that there's a wide berth of players who I couldn't possibly care about. Sandra Bullock ("Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"), Judi Dench ("J. Edgar"), and triples for Jessica Chastain ("The Help", "Tree of Life", "Take Shelter") only reinforce the emptiness of the field this year. None of those performances seem to have the necessary pull to base a strong campaign on. And yet they're very much the women at the front. I'd had difficulty getting into this post, but it's really too simple and unextraordinary to get into with any depth. It's just not an interesting enough category yet, and that's not likely to change any time soon.