The Supporting Actress category was introduced in 1936 to recognize outstanding achievements by actors in non-leading roles. The supporting categories are not without a degree of controversy in that the lines between a leading and supporting role have sometimes been known to be blurred in order to secure a nomination. For some reason this game of category musical chairs seems to be more prevalent for actresses than actors, though this year all the nominees played legitimately supporting roles.
This year's nominees:
Penelope Cruz, Nine: This is Cruz's third nomination following Volver and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Given that Cruz won last year and that Nine hasn't been well received or very widely embraced by AMPAS, it seems unlikely that she'll take home the prize this year.
Vera Farmia, Up In The Air: This is Farmiga's first Oscar nomination. Co-star Anna Kendrick is also nominated and, historically speaking, when two actresses from the same film are nominated, it is unusual for either to win. The last time it happened was 1979, when Meryl Streep beat out Kramer vs. Kramer costar Jane Alexander. Farmiga has nominations from SAG, the Golden Globes, and BAFTA for her work in Up In The Air.
Maggie Gyllenhaal: This is the first nomination for Gyllenhaal, the dark horse nominee who comes into the race without having won or been nominated for any other awards for her work in Crazy Heart.
Anna Kendrick: The only nominee who has managed to keep Mo'Nique from winning everything, Kendrick has been awarded by the Austin Film Critics, Houston Film Critics, National Board of Review, and Toronto Film Critics. She also received Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice nominations. This is her first Oscar nomination.
Mo’Nique: Having won just about every award out there, Mo'Nique seems like a sure thing to take home Best Supporting Actress this year. There's been some backlash regarding her alleged refusal to campaign but, I've got to be honest, that exactly why I like her. She's willing to let her work speak for itself rather than win by playing Oscar politics, which is exactly how it should be. This is her first Oscar nomination.