Helen Hunt bared her soul, among other things, for "The Sessions." (Fox Searchlight )
Two past Oscar winners lead this year's supporting actress Oscar field, but the race remains largely unsettled thanks to the late arrival of "Les Miserables." The musical sports several juicy roles for women, most notably the desperate, starving mother, Fantine (Anne Hathaway); the lovestruck Eponine (Samantha Barks), who's famously on her own; and darling Cosette (Amanda Seyfried). We're guessing Helena Bonham Carter will kill opposite Sacha Baron Cohen as Madame Thenardier too, but voters typically favor the tragedy mask over its comic counterpart. Look at Hathaway's hair! You'd be crazy to bet against that, right?
Here's our current rankings for the race, which will likely change dramatically after "Les Miz" screens Thanksgiving weekend.
1. Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
2. Sally Field, “Lincoln”
3. Amy Adams, “The Master”
4. Maggie Smith, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
5. Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook"
Bubbling under: Frances McDormand, “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Promised Land”; Scarlett Johansson, “Hitchcock”; Jessica Biel, "Hitchcock"; Shirley MacLaine, “Bernie”; Kelly Reilly, "Flight"; Laura Linney, "Hyde Park on Hudson"; Ann Dowd, "Compliance"
Not yet seen: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”; Samantha Barks, “Les Miserables”; Amanda Seyfried, “Les Miserables”; Helena Bonham Carter, “Les Miserables”; Jennifer Ehle, “Zero Dark Thirty”; Kerry Washington, “Django Unchained”
For your consideration: Emily Blunt, “Looper.” Blunt’s work as the resolute farm woman looking after her special son gave “Looper” a beating heart. But, hey, we’d nominate her just for splitting wood with such authority.
Analysis: Hunt, Field and Adams seem assured berths, leaving two spots open for the "Les Miz" women. It's possible too, that the other unseen movies -- "Django" and "Zero Dark Thirty" -- could figure here. Washington is a fine actress and, as the lead woman in "Django," might win favor if the role offers something beyond a woman in need of rescue. As for the Tony Award-winning Ehle? Who knows? "Zero Dark Thirty" has cloaked itself in more secrecy than the actual mission to kill bin Laden. We'll update her status too, after seeing the movie Thanksgiving weekend.
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