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  • Sheldon Gaskell

2020 Oscar Predictions: Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

Nominees: Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit), Florence Pugh (Little Women), Margot Robbie (Bombshell), Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell)

Will Win: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)

Runners-up: Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)

Should Win: Florence Pugh (Little Women)

Runners-up: Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)

My Choice: Florence Pugh (Little Women)

My Nominees: Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit), Adèle Haenel (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Park So Dam (Parasite)

Runners-up: Julia Fox (Uncut Gems), Zhao Shuzhen (The Farewell), Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell), Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Da'Vine Joy Randolph (Dolemite Is My Name), Cho Yeo Jeong (Parasite), Lee Jung Eun (Parasite)

Much like the narrative of all major acting categories this year, Laura Dern has won nearly every award leading up to the Oscars, securing her win for her performance as a feminist lawyer who seeks to represent women that are likely to be taken advantage by their husbands in divorce proceedings. Dern is sharp in her delivery, taking the reigns of all of her scenes with quick, precise dialogue and strong body language to overpower her legal adversaries. The courtroom and women's rights speech scenes are poignant and crowd-pleasing, making her a hard performance to beat in this category.

I was impressed by Dern's performance, but I felt that it was almost too contrived at times, sometimes wavering on the line of Oscar-bait (this acting of acting performance mentality is, however, much in-tune with the task of a lawyer forming a case, so I will give her a pass for this reason). Florence Pugh's performance of Amy March in Little Women, however, is remarkable for its ability to make a largely underwhelming, and somewhat despised, character into a fan-favorite. Previous iterations of Amy March have shaped her into a vain character obsessed with marriage and tradition even at the expense of her sisters' well-being (i.e. marrying her sister Jo's long-time romance Laurie). She is also a challenging role given the ease in which she can slip into the category of "deceptive sister" antagonist rather than foil to Jo as well as how she of all the March sisters demonstrates the most growth from young child to flourishing woman. In fact, in Gillian Armstrong's 1994 film version Amy March is played by two actresses: Kirsten Dunst (younger Amy) and Samantha Mathis (older Amy), which highlights the character's complexity at the various stages of her life. Pugh defies all expectation in this role, and dives into the intricacies of what makes Amy a fully realized beacon of truth throughout her growth. Early in the film, she sparks with whimsical, childish delight, inspiring laughter and captivating both fellow performers and viewers alike within her honeyed charm. She truly feels like a 12 year old in her sporadic movements and wild voice inflections as she pranks her sisters or participates in adventures of make-believe. Later, Pugh's delivery is infused with whit and charm both bubbly and sharp, representing how she has learned to use her guise of innocence and babyish mannerisms as leverage for her desires. In all of Amy's scenes, fellow performers must work hard to meet Pugh's abundant energy or suffer being sidelined to her spotlit throne.

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