As with the Best Supporting Actor race, which I wrote about recently, it's depressingly easy to make some fairly accurate guesses about who will receive Oscar nominations in the Best Supporting Actress category, even without having seen some of the films contending, based merely on the Academy's traditional tastes. It's possible that the surprise choice of James Franco and Anne Hathaway to co-host the upcoming ceremony means the organization is making a conscious choice to move in a hipper, more adventurous direction, but I suspect that will not be reflected in the nominations this year. Perhaps I'll check back in after the nominations are announced and see how well I did in my prognostications.
Barbara Hershey in Black Swan: In a vanity-free performance, the classic beauty Hershey looks like hell and inhabits a character even worse.
Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit: The teen hasn't acted before, but a kid in a Coen brothers' flick is sure-bet awards bait.
Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech: The Academy loves British royalty on the screen, and she's steel-backed queen to a tortured king, a winning combination.
Miranda Richardson in Made in Dagenham: It's a small role but a showy one, in which the actress shines as a tough feminist government minister in 1960s Britain; add bonus points for historical costumes and English accents.
Melissa Leo in The Fighter: Leo is a spectacularly unshowy actor, which could work against her at the Oscars, but her quiet dignity will surely win her an Oscar eventually -- why not now?
Whoopi Goldberg in For Colored Girls: The only thing preventing one member of the excellent ensemble from getting a nomination could be that votes will split among them; Phylicia Rashad is the other likely name for this nom.
Dianne Wiest in Rabbit Hole: She plays grief-stricken granny to a dead boy, good for awards trolling; but the film is unlikely to sweep multiple categories, and could see its major nom go to Nicole Kidman's even more grief-stricken mom.
Gemma Jones in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger: She's delightful as a slightly batty but very charming British lady with an interest in talking to the dead, but this could be too slight for the serious-minded Academy.
Susan Sarandon in The Greatest: She gives a fantastic performance as, ahem, a grief-stricken mom, but this flick will likely be overshadowed by Rabbit Hole, and would have been even if it hadn't already been forgotten.
Amy Adams in The Fighter: Adams is such a sprightly presence on-screen that some overlook what a fantastically talented actress she is; but if Leo isn't nominated in this category, Adams has an excellent chance.
Kristin Scott Thomas in Nowhere Boy: As foster mom to John Lennon -- yes, that John Lennon -- she's a chilly presence ... maybe too chilly for Oscar to love.
Chloe Grace Moretz in Let Me In: A kid in a vampire flick might not be in, um, Oscar's vein. Then again, she is amazing here, and this is the category in which very young actresses often win out.