- Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom
- Helena Bonham Carter - The King's Speech
- Amy Adams - The Fighter
- Melissa Leo - The Fighter
- Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit
Helena Bonham Carter was certainly good in her role as Queen Elizabeth. I've liked her ever since Fight Club; unfortunately I've never liked her in anything as much as I did in that movie. She has been decent, but not stellar in anything I've seen, and that stands true here. Unfortunately for her, even with a really good performance, it would have been obscured by the brilliance of Geoffry Rush and Colin Firth. Even more unfortunate for her, she wasn't brilliant. I wouldn't even go as far as strong. She doesn't deserve an award, and I'm not sure she really deserved to be nominated either.
Amy Adams is an actress that I've enjoyed seeing grow into bigger and better roles in the past few years. I disagree with a lot of people in saying this movie wasn't it, not for Adams. I really don't have a lot to say about her performance here. She was good, not great, not bad. She wasn't glossed over, but she wasn't given a great amount of screen time either. I feel that she was very average to good in a number of ways. If anything, rather than nominating her and Melissa Leo, I wish they had nominated the seven crazy sisters.
If you'll let me jump Melissa Leo for a moment, I'll get to Hailee Steinfeld quickly. Hailee was very good for a fourteen year old. Her character was smart, witty and sassy. Really, her character was witty to the point of annoying, like a too clever writer trying to flex their muscle. It was fun when George Clooney played it in O Brother Where Art Thou and on the edge of enjoyable when Tom Hanks worked through The Ladykillers. Those actors, though have honed their craft well. They are also old enough to get away with being smarter and more clever than every living soul they come across. Steinfeld suffers from her age here. It's hard to believe, without any background, that a fourteen year old is pulling one over on a seasoned trader or working over a U.S. Marshall. She played her role very well and is my clear second choice here. She falls to a better actress and a role too clever for its own good.
Melissa Leo plays an overbearing matriarch taking charge of her children's lives. She was strong and mildly psychotic. Problematic for Leo is the fact that Jacki Weaver plays the same character taken to the next degree of crazy. Also, Weaver plays the character with far greater diversity and strength. Leo shows obvious preference between her children, treating them completely differently. The failing of her character against Weaver's is that her treatment of her children is stable. Weaver takes the matriarchal psychopathy to a new level as the movie goes along. She is sweet and sinister all at once showing her family members both sides, and she maintains an incredible integrity of character all along. Melissa Leo stands no chance against Jacki Weaver here when they play similar roles. Weaver simply upped the ante and Leo couldn't match.
I have yet to see Blue Valentine and Rabbit hole, but Weaver may just well have delivered my favorite performance out of all the nominees in any category. Her character seems only so strong in the first third of the movie, nearly disappears in the middle, but she comes back amazingly strong in the final third of Animal Kingdom. Among performances that I feel aren't worthy of being nominated, much less winning, Jacki Weaver runs away with the best supporting actress award while everyone else save Hailee Steinfeld can't even finish the race.
I have to hope Weaver wins this award. This is the clearest cut category and there is simply no excuse for anyone else to win this year.