2016 Oscar Nominations: Best Actress & Best Supporting Actress

There’s a first time for everything.  And this year’s Oscar nominations include first time recognition for wonderfully talented actresses.  Of course there are repeat nominations for other equally talented women.  But I have to say that, when I heard the list of contenders for this year’s awards, a few of those first-time nominees had me cheering and saying, “It’s about time!”

So let’s take a look at the actresses up for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress this year.  And try to figure out if the winners will be those new to the Oscars or someone who’s already made a trip up to the podium to accept the award.

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett (Carol) and Jennifer Lawrence (Joy) each have several nominations and taken home an Oscar for Lead Actress for Blue Jasmine and Silver Linings Playbook, respectively.  (Blanchett also has a Supporting Actress statue on her mantle for The Aviator.)  This year both actresses portray women at a crossroads in their lives.  Set in the 1950s, Carol features Blanchett in the title role, a woman going through a difficult divorce who falls in love with and begins a relationship with Therese, a young salesclerk.  Joy features Lawrence as Joy Mangano, a real-life inventor and entrepreneur, who turned practical ideas for housekeeping into a multi-million dollar business.

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) has been to the Academy Awards presentation once before when, at the age of 13, she was nominated for Supporting Actress in Atonement.   Since that time, Ronan has done several films, including The Lovely Bones, Hanna, and The Grand Budapest Hotel.  In Brooklyn, she plays Eilis Lacey, a young woman who emigrates from Ireland to America in the 1950s.  In America she finds a new life and new purpose as well as love.

Brie Larson (Room) and Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) are first-timers as Academy Award nominees.  Rampling’s career goes back over 50 years, beginning in her native England.  She’s done almost every kind of role, both leading and supporting and always to great acclaim.  As she grew older, she chose parts accordingly, gracefully moving from youthful roles to mothers and grandmothers.  But until this year, the Oscar nomination has eluded her.  In 45 Years, Rampling plays Kate, a woman looking forward to an anniversary celebration with her husband – until a secret from his past begins to make her doubt his feelings for her – and hers for him.

But the odds-on favorite for receiving the Best Actress is Brie Larson.  In Room, Larson portrays Joy, a young woman held captive for years in a small shed, along with her five-year-old son Jack who was born during that time.  Larson has won praise and numerous awards and nominations, including the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild.  Over the course of the film, we see the bond between mother and child and how they escape to a new life. 

Best Supporting Actress

As with the Best Actress category, Supporting Actress this year features some whose work has been recognized by the Academy in the past.

Rooney Mara (Carol) earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in her breakout role of Lisbeth Salander in the English language version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  In Carol, she plays Therese, a young store clerk who becomes involved with an older woman, played by Cate Blanchett. 

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) has received numerous Academy Award nominations over the years in both Lead and Supporting categories.  She won the Best Actress award for The Reader.  This is her third nomination for Supporting Actress, this time playing real-life Joanna Hoffman, executive at Apple and a confidant of Steve Jobs.

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) are all first-time nominees.

Leigh’s career began in the 1970s when she guest-starred on several TV series.  Her breakout role was in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Over the years, she has acted in comedy and drama, suspense and thriller.  In the western The Hateful Eight, Leigh plays Daisy Domergue, a captured outlaw on her way to trial and very likely being hanged.
McAdams is best known for romantic dramas and comedies.  From The Notebook to The Time Traveler’s Wife to Morning Glory to The Vow, she has turned in one heartfelt performance after another.  In Spotlight, she portrays real-life journalist Sacha Pfeiffer, one of the reporters who investigated and reported on the abuse of children within the Catholic Church.

Alicia Vikander began her career in the early 2000s on television in her native Sweden.  Her first English language film was Anna Karenina in 2012 – and she’s not slowed down since then.  In 2015, she was in four movies: Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Burnt – and The Danish Girl, in which she plays Gerda Wegener, the wife and loving supporter of Lili Elbe, one of the first people to have gender reassignment surgery.  Vikander won the SAG award earlier this year and is the favorite to receive the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

So the stage is set for this year’s Academy Awards.  Although we don’t have many of the current nominees available for checkout, please click on the highlighted names of the actresses to see a list of the movies we do have here at Harris County Public Library.  And check back often for more films.

And enjoy the Oscars on Sunday, February 28.


Flickr: CC          : Awaiting on You All          Photo: Hugh Grew