I think if you put the true supporting actresses in this category, you would have some great nominees, like Elizabeth Banks in Love & Mercy, Joan Allen in Room or even Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina, two of these actually have the potential to happen.
Bear in mind over the last two years this category has remained consistent across the board, but this year is a whole different game here.
In 2013 there were six different contenders throughout the Golden Globes, SAG, and BAFTA: Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, Lupita N'yongo in 12 Years a Slave, Julia Roberts in August: Osage County, Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine, June Squibb in Nebraska, and Oprah in The Butler.
Oprah was the predicted winner for a long time, by many, but The Butler never found its footing; she was nominated at SAG, and BAFTA, but missed out on the Oscar nomination to one of the other five. This was an easier year to predict, although I believe I had Hawkins getting snubbed. In the end I should have predicted her because Blue Jasmine has more love, it received three nominations.
Last year was a bit tougher, especially since Laura Dern's nomination came out of no precursor attention, besides maybe a few smaller critics groups. There were three consistent nominees at the Golden Globes, SAG, and BAFTA, they were: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood (eventual Oscar winner), Keira Knightly for The Imitation Game (yawn), and Emma Stone for Birdman.
These three performers were set in stone, they were all part of strong Best Picture contenders, so predicting them made sense. Meryl Streep missed out at BAFTA, but the Oscars rarely miss a chance to nominate her, and her singing was better than Mamma Mia! so she was a good bet.
The fifth nominees was a tough call, Jessica Chastain made scored a nomination the Globes for A Most Violent Year, Naomi Watts got a SAG nomination for St. Vincent (still do not understand why it was not for Birdman), and Rene Russo got a BAFTA nomination for Nightcrawler.
My prediction for the fifth spot was Russo, it seemed like Gylenhaal was getting into lead actor, and maybe Nightcrawler would show up in Best Picture because of the guild support. Enter Laura Dern's surprise nomination. Dern has a lot of respect, and it should have been in more predictions. The Oscars do admire people, and this should be something to pay attention to this Thursday, and when making your predictions.
So what happens this year? So far the most consistent nominee in this specific category is Kate Winslet, and I actually had her placed number one to get a nomination before her Globe win (I swear); she is one of the few locks in this category.
Alicia Vikander is going to get a nomination in this category; she was nominated at Globes and BAFTA for Ex Machina, and for The Danish Girl at SAG. I think Vikander will be a double nominee like at the Globes and BAFTA; she will show in supporting for Ex Machina at the Oscars.
I think Rooney Mara is in third, the only group to place her in lead, is the Globes; she was nominated in supporting at SAG, and BAFTA, that is telling. I think she will show up here.
I have Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight in fourth; she showed up at the Globes and BAFTA, although she did not know show up at SAG. I do not think voters saw the film in enough time, or she would have shown up.
The fifth spot is a toss up. Leading the pack in this toss up spot is Helen Mirren, she was nominated at the Globes, and SAG, but snubbed at BAFTA. I was a bit shocked a Brit like Mirren was snubbed here, especially since Cranston showed up, so she is vulnerable. I am ranking her highest, on name and prestige factor alone. After Mirren comes Rachel McAdams, who was nominated at SAG, so she still has a shot. This fifth spot could also be a Laura Dern, oh wow, nomination, like last year. If that is the case I could see Joan Allen from Room; she has three previous Oscar nominations, watch out for her!
1-Kate Winslet-Steve Jobs
2-Alicia Vikander-Ex Machina (or The Danish Girl but that is a cheat)
4-Jennifer Jason Leigh-The Hateful Eight