Best Supporting Actress, 2004
(Click on the linked film titles for reviews of the corresponding films.)

Cate Blanchett
The Aviator


The SAG award really helped, proving that her risky impersonation of Hollywood's best loved actress of yore really has gone over well with some of Kate's old fans. Blanchett has been working so steadily and in such diverse vehicles in the past few years, and a consistent presence at the Oscar telecast even when she's missed nominations, that we can't really doubt the industry's general regard for her. This may be a good place to reward The Aviator if it hits some turbulence higher up.

Even in the year of the biopic, will voters really want to check off two celebrity impersonators on the same ballot? Foxx has his trophy all sewn up; Blanchett needs to be nervous, especially since the voters know Hepburn better and may be harsher in judging the actor's correspondence. Also, who does the average Oscar voter go for: the haughty heartbreaker or the romantic ideal, backlit and glowing in wine country?
Laura Linney

Well, people like her.
But they don't seem to like Kinsey much. Yesterday's news. Actually, yesterday's news that never quite made the news the way its creators clearly wished that it had.
Virginia Madsen

Her character has the richness of Blanchett's and Portman's but the likeability of Linney's and Okonedo's. She has the most critical prizes, by a mile, and her reversal of fortune from C-list has-been to revelation of the year is the most gratifying PR story of the year. Sideways fans will be looking for opportunities to show their love.
Losing the Globe and then the SAG prize to two different competitors makes it a little unclear whether Madsen really has a consensus behind her, once the film critics leave the picture.
Sophie Okonedo
Hotel Rwanda

I can't even make any up.
She's the Rachel Griffiths, the Minnie Driver, the Queen Latifah, the nominee who rides the coattails of the film's momentum during nomination season but is hopelessly stranded during the voting period. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not expecting to see Okonedo back here anytime soon.
Natalie Portman

Even in general, Hollywood has been working hard to make her a major, certified star for years now. But her Closer work has been especially well-advertised, from the months preceding the film's release through the cover of the Premiere Magazine Oscar edition. The Globe was a nice surprise. And, you know, she wouldn't be the first sex worker to win this prize. Missing a SAG nod implies that actors really aren't behind the movie, and the Globe win may or may not have changed their minds. Surely she'll be able to win later? Compared to the other nominees, she sure looks young and untested, but then, maybe that will help set her apart. I'm just not feeling this.

WHO WILL WIN: Virginia Madsen will fend off the strong challenges by Blanchett and Portman, but none of the three of them would be a huge surprise.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Isn't it amazing when the front-running contender also deserves to win? Go, Virginia, go!

...AND WHO OUGHTA BEEN INVITED: No one I would have supported ever had a prayer, but in my dream life, the casts of Dogville and Maria Full of Grace would have gotten some play. Patricia Clarkson in particular deserved some recognition, but then, you knew I'd say that.

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