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One Of These 21 Women Will Probably Win Best Supporting Actress At The 2015 Oscars

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Welcome to For Your Consideration, HuffPost Entertainment's breakdown of all things Oscar. Between now and Feb. 22, 2015, entertainment managing editor Christopher Rosen and entertainment editor Matthew Jacobs will pore over awards season and discuss which films will make the most noise at the 87th annual Academy Awards.

It has been said that this year's Best Supporting Actress race is a snooze. We say look closer: Meryl! Tilda! Oprah! Carrie Coon is here, too, people! This is far from humdrum -- or at least it will be if the Academy dares to include a few surprises when the Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 15. As of now, it looks like the race belongs to Patricia Arquette, Jessica Chastain and Meryl Streep, but watch out: Keira Knightley, Laura Dern and Emma Stone are battling for the final two spots, with a horde of ladies trying to unseat these longtime front-runners. In a fun world, it's anyone's match.

  • 21 Minnie Driver, "Beyond the Lights"
    Minnie Driver had a pretty great year. The former '90s It-Girl co-stars on the NBC series "About a Boy," provided narration f
    Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP
    Minnie Driver had a pretty great year. The former '90s It-Girl co-stars on the NBC series "About a Boy," provided narration for the network's "Peter Pan Live!" special and, most important for our interests, stole scenes in Gina Prince-Bythewood's "Beyond the Lights." Driver takes what could have been just another stage mother from hell and infuses the character with understanding and a true sense of purpose. Driver's Macy Jean loves her daughter, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, so much that she's willing to ruin everything to make her into a success. There are multitudes in this performance. -- Christopher Rosen
  • 20 Sienna Miller, "American Sniper"
    Sienna Miller will get her due one of these days, but it probably won’t be for "American Sniper." Warner Bros. already has it
    Grant Pollard/Invision/AP
    Sienna Miller will get her due one of these days, but it probably won’t be for "American Sniper." Warner Bros. already has its work cut out trying to land Bradley Cooper a Best Actor nod for his turn as an Iraq War vet suffering with PTSD in Clint Eastwood’s latest film. "American Sniper" is a latecomer to the race, and despite its spot on AFI's and the National Board of Review's year-end lists, the movie has yet to convince many it's worth top-tier Oscar status. Miller's similar role in the superior "Foxcatcher" doesn't help her either. -- Matthew Jacobs
  • 19 Julianne Moore, "Maps To The Stars"
    David Cronenberg's dark Hollywood satire is too nutty to register with Oscar voters, but Julianne Moore should be the one exc
    Andy Kropa /Invision/AP
    David Cronenberg's dark Hollywood satire is too nutty to register with Oscar voters, but Julianne Moore should be the one exception. She nabbed the Cannes Film Festival's Best Actress prize in May, a deserved recognition for her manic take on a self-absorbed actress haunted by past demons and industry rejection. There's a lot working against this film, though: "Maps to the Stars" opened last weekend with a quiet release, but voters are encouraged to ignore Moore when it comes to Oscar. "Per Julianne Moore's reps, 'Still Alice' is pursuing an Academy Awards campaign through Sony Classics," Awards Circuit wrote in October. "To avoid confusion, we are pursuing a Golden Globe nomination only for Julianne Moore as Best Actress." The size of her role suggests a supporting campaign could have materialized, but alas, "Still Alice" is still Moore's best Oscar ticket. -- MJ
  • 18 Joanna Newsom, "Inherent Vice"
    There are a lot of great surprises in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice," but perhaps none bigger than Joanna Newsom. The
    Philip Ryalls via Getty Images
    There are a lot of great surprises in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice," but perhaps none bigger than Joanna Newsom. The harpist and singer-songwriter makes her screen debut in "Inherent Vice" as Sortilège, the film's ethereal narrator and de facto Greek chorus. It's a performance that can be defined by the word whimsy, but that's all right: Newsom makes such a lasting impression on the drugged-out proceedings that we'd be okay with her providing retroactive voice-over for all of Anderson's films. -- CR
  • 17 Melissa McCarthy, "St. Vincent"
    Melissa McCarthy has spent the last few years planting seeds that suggest she's capable of turning in a top-level dramatic pe
    Al Powers/Invision/AP
    Melissa McCarthy has spent the last few years planting seeds that suggest she's capable of turning in a top-level dramatic performance. "St. Vincent" is her best attempt yet at delivering on that promise. As a struggling single mom, McCarthy is a little bit sad, a little bit funny and all kinds of impressive. Unfortunately, the film isn't up to McCarthy's standards: Her character is pushed aside in the third act to give Bill Murray carte blanche to find an Oscar clip. -- CR
  • 16 Oprah Winfrey, "Selma"
    Last year, we all thought Oprah Winfrey's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Wt7-ypECmc" target="_blank">disco-loving<
    Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images
    Last year, we all thought Oprah Winfrey's disco-loving performance in Lee Daniels' "The Butler" would guarantee her an Oscar nomination. Then she was snubbed. Winfrey is back on the big screen with a moving turn as Annie Lee Cooper in "Selma," a real-life civil rights activist who clocked an Alabama sheriff after being told she couldn't register to vote. Winfrey's part is fairly small, though, and she's among a sprawling ensemble that overflows with impactful performances. -- MJ
  • 15 Jessica Lange, "The Gambler"
    As with her male counterparts in "The Gambler," <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/best-supporting-actor-2015-oscars_n_6
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    As with her male counterparts in "The Gambler," Michael K. Williams and John Goodman, Jessica Lange is only afforded the opportunity to tear through a handful scenes in Rupert Wyatt's testosterone-fueled remake. She does it like a pro -- knocking down William Monahan's profanity laced dialogue with gleeful abandon. Away from the camp of "American Horror Story," Lange is ferocious here. The part's probably too small to rate with Oscar voters, but don't be surprised if Lange winds up as an upset Screen Actors Guild award nominee. -- CR
  • 14 Vanessa Redgrave, "Foxcatcher"
    Vanessa Redgrave barely speaks in "Foxcatcher," but in truth she doesn't need to. Playing the chilly mother of deranged multi
    Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
    Vanessa Redgrave barely speaks in "Foxcatcher," but in truth she doesn't need to. Playing the chilly mother of deranged multimillionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell), Redgrave is proof that a glare can launch a hundred admonishments. The 77-year-old actress hasn't garnered an Oscar nomination since 1992, but it'll take more than this quiet "Foxcatcher" turn to bring Redgrave back to the awards spotlight, however deserved she may be. -- MJ
  • 13 Katherine Waterston, "Inherent Vice"
    In an alternate reality, Katherine Waterston is a locked-down Best Supporting Actress nominee for "Inherent Vice." This is a
    Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
    In an alternate reality, Katherine Waterston is a locked-down Best Supporting Actress nominee for "Inherent Vice." This is a perilous performance, both because of its opaque nature and shocking nudity. Waterston is holding all the cards in "Inherent Vice" and her poker face is inscrutable; multiple viewings of the film would likely turn up an untold number of readings on her character's motivations and emotions. A performance this challenging deserves some straightforward hyperbole. So, how's this? Waterston does more with a single tear than most actors did this year with full monologues. -- CR
  • 12 Kristen Stewart, "Still Alice"
    It has been a remarkable year for Kristen Stewart when it comes to prestigious dramatic roles. "Clouds of Sils Maria" became
    Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
    It has been a remarkable year for Kristen Stewart when it comes to prestigious dramatic roles. "Clouds of Sils Maria" became a festival favorite, "Camp X-Ray" gives her mild Best Actress buzz, and "Still Alice" -- in which she portrays the daughter of a professor (Julianne Moore) facing early-onset Alzheimer's -- plants her in the thick of the Best Supporting Actress contest. Moore seems all but guaranteed to win Best Actress for "Still Alice," so Stewart may suffer from a case of second-fiddle syndrome. Regardless, say hello to Bella Swan's impending renaissance. -- MJ
  • 11 Anna Kendrick, "Into the Woods"
    Anna Kendrick is fairly darling as Cinderella in Rob Marshall's adaptation of "Into the Woods." The movie hasn't proven itsel
    Arthur Mola /Invision/AP
    Anna Kendrick is fairly darling as Cinderella in Rob Marshall's adaptation of "Into the Woods." The movie hasn't proven itself a veritable awards favorite yet, which may be damning since Disney's "Saving Mr. Banks" was shut out when last year's Oscar nominations were announced. But Kendrick will be a fun presence throughout awards season, even if the Academy has plenty of other opportunities to recognize the "Into the Woods" cast. See also: Meryl. -- MJ
  • 10 Carmen Ejogo, "Selma"
    One of the changes Ava DuVernay made to Paul Webb's script for "Selma" was adding in Coretta Scott King. It was a good idea:
    Frederick M. Brown via Getty Images
    One of the changes Ava DuVernay made to Paul Webb's script for "Selma" was adding in Coretta Scott King. It was a good idea: the marital strife the Kings faced during the '60s gives Martin Luther King necessary shades of grey, while also providing Carmen Ejogo with a meaty supporting role. The work isn't flashy, but Ejogo gives "Selma" so much of its heart and humanity that it's almost impossible to imagine the movie without her. -- CR
  • 9 Carrie Coon, "Gone Girl"
    Hands down, casting director Laray Mayfield put together the best cast of the year with David Fincher's "Gone Girl." Every de
    Ben Gabbe via Getty Images
    Hands down, casting director Laray Mayfield put together the best cast of the year with David Fincher's "Gone Girl." Every decision she made not only subverted initial expectations, but then seemed like a complete no-brainer. (Of course Tyler Perry should play the sleazy defense attorney.) In casting Carrie Coon to play Margo Dunne, Nick Dunne's twin sister and one of two "normal" people in the entire story (Kim Dickens' Detective Boney being the other), Mayfield found the perfect audience surrogate. Margo is a smart ass who isn't afraid to undercut her idiot brother Nick (Ben Affleck, another perfect casting choice), but she's also just so damn human. The heartbreak of her final scene with Nick is palpable, and the tragic story of Margo Dunne becomes the film's true gut punch. Coon deserves a nomination for it all. -- CR
  • 8 Tilda Swinton, "Snowpiercer"
    Tilda Swinton won Best Supporting Actress for 2007's "Michael Clayton," a fairly quiet role by Tilda Swinton standards. In "S
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Tilda Swinton won Best Supporting Actress for 2007's "Michael Clayton," a fairly quiet role by Tilda Swinton standards. In "Snowpierecer," she's far from quiet. The actress described the dictatorial Minister Mason -- a character written for a man -- as a mix of Thatcher, Hitler, Gaddafi and Berlusconi. Despite being named one of the National Board of Review's 10 best movies, the summer sleeper hit has gotten the short shrift in The Weinstein Company's Oscar campaign: "Snowpiercer" isn't even listed on the studio's official For Your Consideration page. -- MJ
  • 7 Rene Russo, "Nightcrawler"
    Rene Russo came out of nowhere with her electric stint as a TV news director beholden to the grisly footage a bug-eyed Jake G
    Vittorio Zunino Celotto via Getty Images
    Rene Russo came out of nowhere with her electric stint as a TV news director beholden to the grisly footage a bug-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal sells her. "Nightcrawler" is a fierce reminder of just how under-appreciated Russo is. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association agrees -- the group just named Russo the runner-up for its Best Supporting Actress accolade. She's an underdog in this race, but "Nightcrawler" has managed to appear on enough year-end lists that she may find a sufficient boost for an inaugural nomination. -- MJ
  • 6 Emma Stone, "Birdman"
    If Emma Stone gets a nomination for "Birdman," <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/emma-stone-birdman_n_5978280" target="
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    If Emma Stone gets a nomination for "Birdman," it'll be because of this scene, a blistering critique of old people not willing to acclimate to a world where social media rules and young people too obsessed with their online personas to notice anyone else. Stone's rarely been afforded the chance to express such vitriol and rage. That step outside her comfort zone could resonate with Academy members, especially if "Birdman" winds up with a wealth of support in other categories. -- CR
  • 5 Laura Dern, "Wild"
    Laura Dern makes this look simple. Her performance in "Wild" (and, for that matter, "The Fault in Our Stars," too) is so natu
    Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
    Laura Dern makes this look simple. Her performance in "Wild" (and, for that matter, "The Fault in Our Stars," too) is so natural that it's easy to overlook the intricate way she builds layers within her character. Dern's role as Cheryl Strayed's mother mostly serves to provide the groundwork for Reese Witherspoon's showier achievement, but we hope that won't stop Oscar voters from recognizing her for the first time since 1992. We've shed too many tears with Dern this year for her to come up empty-handed. -- MJ
  • 4 Keira Knightley, "The Imitation Game"
    Keira Knightley earned high marks for her lead roles in "Begin Again" and "Laggies," but it's her turn as WWII code-breaker J
    JEWEL SAMAD via Getty Images
    Keira Knightley earned high marks for her lead roles in "Begin Again" and "Laggies," but it's her turn as WWII code-breaker Joan Clarke in "The Imitation Game" that should lock up Knightley's second Oscar nomination. She's remained a longtime frontrunner in this category, as "The Imitation Game" seemingly has across-the-board support from Academy members, but without many signature scenes to tout, it looks like Best Supporting Actress will be a Patricia-Jessica-Meryl affair. -- MJ
  • 3 Jessica Chastain, "A Most Violent Year"
    By all accounts, Patricia Arquette has Best Supporting Actress sewn up for her performance in "Boyhood." But if there's an up
    Michael Tran via Getty Images
    By all accounts, Patricia Arquette has Best Supporting Actress sewn up for her performance in "Boyhood." But if there's an upset winner in this category, it might be Jessica Chastain. The year's busiest actress (who also has some Supporting Actress heat for "Interstellar") crushes "A Most Violent Year" in a way that should make her stand out above the pack, Arquette included. It's a Lady Macbeth-y role, mixed with Amy Adams' "American Hustle" wardrobe and sass borrowed from Marisa Tomei circa "My Cousin Vinny." Arquette is something else in "Boyhood," but Chastain's performance in "A Most Violent Year" is one that we'll be talking about for a long time to come. -- CR
  • 2 Meryl Streep, "Into the Woods"
    It's hard to praise Meryl Streep at this point. What more can be said that three Oscar trophies and 18 total nominations have
    Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
    It's hard to praise Meryl Streep at this point. What more can be said that three Oscar trophies and 18 total nominations haven't proved already? But let's try anyway: Streep is so damn good in "Into the Woods" that she actually manages to do something that seemed, finally, out of her reach: elicit surprise. The Witch is her funniest role in a decade, and also one of her most empathetic. Streep, quite literally, might make audiences laugh and cry when "Into the Woods" arrives on Christmas Day. Oscar voters should be just as smitten. Those 18 nominations should have company on Jan. 15. -- CR
  • 1 Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"
    Patricia Arquette probably shut the door on this race back in July when the 12 years she put into Richard Linklater's ambitio
    Rich Polk via Getty Images
    Patricia Arquette probably shut the door on this race back in July when the 12 years she put into Richard Linklater's ambitious "Boyhood" resulted in a performance as layered as the boy at the movie's center. Arquette is heartbreaking as a mother who struggles from one abusive relationship to the next. And that scene where she watches her son pack his bags (and boxes) for college, only to break down and say she "thought there would be more"? Few movie moments this year were as trenchant, and few performances as poignant as Arquette's. It helps that she's been feted right and left already, racking up Independent Spirit and Gotham nominations as well as top honors from the New York Film Critics Circle. -- MJ
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