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Predicting the Oscars 2015: Best Supporting Actress / Actor

Eye-catching support makes it into the spotlight in the second of our series

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Predicting the Oscars 2015: Best Supporting Actress / Actor

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

As we lead up to the 87th Academy Awards, our Film Reviews Editor Emma Simmonds makes her predictions on this year's likely Oscar winners. Here, we look at the contenders for Best Supporting Actress (last year's winner: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave) and Supporting Actor (last year's winner: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club).

Actress in a Supporting Role

The nominees:
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Laura Dern – Wild
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Emma Stone – Birdman
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

What we say: Patricia Arquette is a deserved shoo-in here, in what is otherwise a solid but slightly uninspiring line-up that could easily be improved upon. Into the Woods is basically a posh panto but mastering the vocal gymnastics of Stephen Sondheim's songs is trickier than it looks, and Oscar-stalwart Streep pulls this off with characteristic aplomb. Keira Knightley's performance in The Imitation Game may be her best work to date, ditto Emma Stone for Birdman, but they've still got some way to go. Laura Dern is the surprise inclusion at the expense of the more fancied (and better) Jessica Chastain and Rene Russo – for A Most Violent Year and Nightcrawler respectively. Dern's adorable in Wild but can't compete with the multi-shaded, giving-it-everything Arquette who's the heart and soul of Boyhood.

The likely winner: Patricia Arquette
The List's winner: Patricia Arquette
Shoulda been contenders: Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year; Dorothy Atkinson, Mr Turner

Actor in a Supporting Role

The nominees:
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
JK Simmons – Whiplash

What we say: Another category that looks to be a lock, this time for JK Simmons – a wonderful, serially underappreciated character actor who storms the screen in Whiplash. Despite seeming a sure thing for what is undeniably the most spectacular work in the field, he has stiffer competition than Arquette, so a surprise isn't out of the question here. Edward Norton has recently returned to form; he makes for an enjoyably twitchy theatrical artiste in Birdman and may be Simmons' biggest threat. But don't discount Boyhood's Ethan Hawke, utterly lovable as a reformed rogue whose idiosyncratic approach to fatherhood provides moments to treasure. Less threatening is Mark Ruffalo, although his work in Foxcatcher is a master-class in understatement. Duvall may be here simply for being Duvall but he's the only actor who has to work to rise above mediocre material.

The likely winner: JK Simmons
The List's winner: JK Simmons
Shoulda been a contender: Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Mommy

Predicting the Oscars 2015: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress / Actor, Best Adapted / Original Screenplay

See the full list of Oscar 2015 nominees.

Watch the 87th Academy Awards live on Sky Movies Oscars Sun 22 Feb from 11.30pm.

Lupita Nyong'o winning Best Supporting Actress (2014)

Jared Leto winning Best Supporting Actor (2014)

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