I don't do much awards chatter these days here at the blog. There are so many other places that do it and do it far better than I so I stopped for the most part. Every now and then, however, I really get the itch to do my Oscar watching right here instead of in the comment sections of other, better blogs and I've decided to go out on a limb and predict that "Australia's own" (hello Herald Sun "entertainment" pages favourite saying) Jacki Weaver will be nominated for an Academy Award come early next year.
Weaver, as anybody who reads Stale Popcorn knows, is the eye of the cyclone that is David David Michôd's Animal Kingdom. She's the calm centre of the raging storm around her, but her placidness belies the true destructive force that's at work; she's a monster through and through. Normally a performance by a 63-year-old unknown in a foreign film (especially one that has only grossed $900,000) wouldn't cause much of a ripple on the other side of the Pacific, but she's the only contender in the Best Supporting Actress field, thin as it may be, to already have herself a genuine, bona fide fanbase. She has a catchphrase, for cryin' out loud! Still, that won't be enough to get the nomination.
My belief in Weaver's nomination comes from what I hope will be the influence of the critics. Looking at the list of known contenders in the category - ignore the fact that she will be nominated for, and win, the Best Actress category at the AFI Awards come November, the AFIs generally always bump up the most prominent of each gender to the lead categories whether it is justified or not - and it's hard to see a name that sticks out as the sort that critics associations throughout the United States would rally behind.
Most of the other names that people think will be in the Oscar race don't instantly strike me as the type of roles that critics reward. As much of a breeze as Helena Bonham Carter may find it to get an Oscar nomination for The King's Speech does this really strike you as a big enough, note-worthy enough, for the critcs? Will they go for the supportive "mom" or the supporting girlfriend, played by Melissa Leo and Amy Adams respectively, from The Fighter? That movie hardly looks like the sort of project that will endear itself to the critics with its apparent old-fashioned nature. I could see Barbara Hershey getting some success from Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, but does her domineering mother character rank alongside Weaver's? And if they really want to help that movie they'll award Aronofsky or Natalie Portman, surely.
More likely contenders would be Dianne Wiest for Rabbit Hole and Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit. One is a bona fide legend and the other could prove to be a breakout youngster, but unless Weist steamrolls through the season I can't see critics giving her their prize for a role that's (at least from the outset) looks so unflashy. Maybe that's just me. Steinfeld? Well, it could be a way for the critics to reward True Grit if they decide to really get on the bandwagon of The Social Network in the big categories.
Other than those, who is there? I'd love to see Dale Dickey show up there for Winter's Bone, but her brand of character actress so rarely get noticed and, no offence intended, Dickey is not a "natural beauty" so she can't hang her hat on the "i-went-ugly-but-look-how-sexy-i-really-am" rack. I doubt the critics will go for Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls (as an aside, the number of times I have to correct myself on the spelling of that title is getting ridiculous!) or the women of Nowhere Boy. Miranda Richardson for Made in Dagenham? Maybe if they realise they've really missed her, but the film strikes me as a little bit lightweight for the critics, doesn't it?
We've seen the monster mother routine rewarded plenty of times rewards. Recent examples of this include Amy Ryan for Gone Baby Gone and Mo'Nique for Precious. Will they go to that particular well again? I hope so, especially when someone such as Weaver is so deserving. If you follow the reviews then it's hard to argue that Weaver's is the most critically acclaimed performance of the year so far give or take a Lesley Manville. If nobody gives her an award this season then they will be doing themselves a great disservice.
The only way Weaver will be able to really make a legitimate claim to a Best Supporting Actress nomination will be with the support of critics, but the critics might not reward her because they don't feel she has a legitimate shot of a Best Supporting Actress nomination, and these days these associations are all about being "relevant". Still, nobody was predicting Amy Ryan or Amy Adams (for Junebug) for an Oscar nomination and the support they were shown shoehorned her into the race. I'm hoping - I'm predicting - they will do the same for Jacki Weaver. She deserves it.
And if anybody wants to send me their Jacki Weaver catchphrase t-shirt I'd be more than willing to accept it!