This year we see the rise of independent films, which seems to happen every decade or so. But first, the only four Oscar categories with nominees you might actually recognize in person ...
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams - Junebug
Catherine Keener - Capote
Frances McDormand - North Country
Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain
WILL WIN: Rachel Weisz
SHOULD WIN: Amy Adams
This is practically anybody's race. Ironically, the three leaders are the newcomers, Weisz, Adams, and Williams. Adams has the advantage of the most critics circle wins and a BFCA tie with Williams. She also has the ingenue thing (but so does Williams). Williams also has the cache of being associated with the film favored to take home the gold, and the best post-Dawson's Creek track record of anyone on that show.
But Weisz has a few things working in her favor. She's got momentum from both the Golden Globes and the SAG awards. Many more people have seen her movie than Adams'. Williams' flick is getting its kudos elsewhere, so here's a place for Gardener fans to show their love (Weisz has pretty much become the face of the film as Fiennes and Meirelles have gone un-nominated, for the most part, this awards season). Finally, and this is a cheap shot, she's visibly pregnant. That didn't help Annette Bening during her American Beauty run, but she was up for Best Actress against Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry and nobody was coming back from that.
Plus, Weisz is the odds-on favorite at 4/9 over Williams at 5/1 and Adams at 7/1.
Of the performances I've seen here (all but McDormand's), Adams brings the most depth and range to her portrayal. It could easily degenerate into a stereotype of a young Southern woman, and I'll credit the writing here as well with defying that, but Adams creates the most memorable character. And given that Harper freakin' Lee is in the running, that's saying a lot.
By the way, does anyone else feel bad for Anne Hathaway? She's the only one in the Brokeback quartet to lack awards season love. Not a single nod. And it's not like she doesn't do any heavy lifting. Her phone conversation with Heath near the end is one of the most memorable scenes in a movie full of memorable scenes. Let's just hope she'll kick ass in The Devil Wears Prada.