Oscar Theory #3: The Out-Of-Nowhere Star Gets Best Supporting Actress

Let’s play Oscar psychic for a minute, OK? I have a pretty good idea of who is going to win this year’s Best Supporting Actress Award. My crystal ball says Mo’Nique—and not just because she won both the Golden Globe and SAG awards. See, the Academy is pretty darn predictable on who they decide to bestow with their gold-plated paperweights. For Best Actress they tend to go with America’s Sweetheart and for Best Actor they pick the guy with the most nominations under his belt already. But something very interesting happens in the Best Supporting Actress category. The Academy generally favors actresses who are fresh out of the gate—who are making their movie debut, or who landed their first big role. In other words, they like the Breakthrough Star.

Let’s take a stroll down the Best Supporting Actress memory lane.

  • Folks fell in love with Jennifer Hudson during her run on “American Idol.” Even though she didn’t do too hot (she was voted off sixth) she landed a part in “Dreamgirls,” playing Effie—a singer who loses her star status and her man to Beyonce, her backup singer. It was Jennifer’s first movie and her very first attempt at acting at all. And it won her an Oscar in 2007.
  • Angelina Jolie had done a lot of movies by the time she signed on to play Lisa Rowe in “Girl, Interrupted.” Only none of her films had done that hot and many of them were made-for-TV. She quit acting and decided to go to NYU to study film. Luckily, she returned to the screen for “Girl, Interrupted.” Her breakthrough performance got her an Oscar in 2000 (and a creepy kiss from her brother) and she became a household name.
  • Anna Paquin may be our favorite telepathic waitress in love with a vampire. But back in 1994, she was just a kid acting opposite Holly Hunter in “The Piano.” It was also her film debut, and she also took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for it. She keeps the statue in her closet.
  • We loved the tomboy look Tatum O’Neal rocked at the Oscars back in 1974, when she was nominated at the age of 10 for her role in “Paper Moon.” The flick was her first movie, and she rocked it—becoming the youngest person ever to win a major acting award.
  • In the 1950s, a young actress named Eva Marie Saint signed up for NBC’s page program. After getting a few high-profile TV roles, she was cast in her first film—”On the Waterfront.” The movie became a sensation, and she won Best Supporting Actress her first time out. She went on to a career that spanned seven decades.

The Breakthrough Effect will no doubt spin the Best Supporting Actress race in Mo’Nique’s favor. She started out as a stand-up comedian, which became a role on the UPN series “The Parkers.” And while she’s had small parts in movies before, “Precious” has launched her to star status, thanks to her ability to make Precious’ abusive mom scary as well as wounded/pitiable. It seems like she’s got this one in the bag.