When I look at this lineup for Best Supporting Actress I’m struck by how young (or at least young at heart it is). June Squibb is obviously more… mature… than her competitors, but she was just as much of a discovery for me as the other nominees. In fact the only one of these women I knew by name before 2013 was Sally Hawkins, but even she wasn’t exactly a household name.
- Lupita Nyong’o- 12 Years a Slave: I said earlier that many of the actresses here are being introduced to audiences for the first time, but the only one who didn’t even have a single feature film credit before this year was Lupita Nyong’o, who is absolutely heartbreaking as a slave named Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. The first thing I did when I came home from seeing the film was to look up her name and wonder where Steve McQueen found her.
- Léa Seydoux- Blue is the Warmest Color: While playing the slightly older and more experienced lover of Adèle Exarchopoulos’ character, Léa Seydoux has to deal with a lot of baggage. In the wrong hands her character could have come off as very unlikable figure, especially later in the film when “the honeymoon is over” so to speak and some of her character’s more prickly edges begin to be revealed. Fortunately Seydoux’s performance help’s the audience see her side of things and keep the character grounded and believable.
- Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine: The role of Jasmine’s lower-middle class sister Ginger could have been played in a number of rather terrible ways. She could have been reduced to “white trash” or could have been played up as some kind of long suffering Italian wife type, but Sally Hawkins manages to drive the character in a way that avoids all the potential stereotypes while still becoming an interesting scene partner for Blanchet’s Jasmine.
- June Squibb- Nebraska: Actress June Squibb spent much of her career as a stage actress for much of her career and didn’t have a film credit until 1990. This year, at age 84 she finally got a film role that really shows off what she’s capable of. As Woody Grant’s long suffering wife Squibb manages to steal a number of scenes by playing one of those elderly characters who’s simply too old to put up with people’s shit.
- Kaitlyn Dever – Short Term 12: The youngest of the five nominees here is Kaitlyn Dever, who plays a troubled youth in the film Short Term 12. Her character is a teenager who is clearly troubled and has a history of self-harm, but who refuses to open up about this and instead shields herself with a smug “too cool for this” attitude. In her performance she must reveal a wounded interior that exists beneath the surface of the character’s stoic façade.