The Oscar contenders are dropping like flies!

OK, so things aren’t quite so dire. But with movies like ‘Foxcatcher,’ ‘Grace of Monaco’ and Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ pushed back to 2014 (or currently in curious limbo), the ongoing Oscar race shifts gears on a daily basis. Where do we stand at the moment? Let’s run through our picks for the current frontrunners in the Best Supporting Actress category. Agree? Disagree? Weigh in below:

  • 1

    Oprah Winfrey, ‘Lee Daniels' The Butler’

    Last Week: 3

    Part of me thinks Oprah Winfrey can get nominated for ‘The Butler’ simply because she’s Oprah. Her popularity can boost the ratings of a struggling television broadcast (and don’t think decisions like that don’t play into the nomination process). But then I saw ‘The Butler’ and realized Winfrey’s quite good as Gloria Gaines, wife to the title character who provides a support system – and a motivator – at home, away from the White House. Winfrey earns a spot at this table. Now we’ll just see who the Academy puts around her.

  • 2

    Lupita Nyong'o, ’12 Years a Slave’

    Last Week: 2

    Sometimes one scene is powerful enough to push a performer into the race. When you see Lupita Nyong’o’s devastating scene in McQueen’s ’12 Years a Slave,’ you’ll understand why she emerged from the Telluride/Venice/Toronto sprint with Oscar heat. Granted, her textured performance can’t be boiled down to one scene. Her character, Patsey, is a favored slave of Satanic plantation owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), but that doesn’t mean her journey is soft. We’ll be talking about ‘12 Years’ all Oscar season, and Nyong’o certainly will be at the heart of most discussions.

  • 3

    Julia Roberts, ‘August: Osage County’

    Last Wek: 1

    “Eat the fish, bitch!” John Wells’ adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play has split critics. On one side of the debate, those who are intimately familiar with the original play feel the movie pulled punches in spots. The other camp (of which I am a member) appreciates the dark, soul-baring places ‘August’ ventured. There’s very little debate, though, about the merits of the cast, particularly Roberts and her co-star, Meryl Streep. Several ‘August’ cast members could find their way into the Oscar conversation if the film catches on. Keep your eyes on Julianne Nicholson and Chris Cooper in subsequent races. For now, though, I’m putting my eggs in Roberts and Streep’s baskets.

  • 4

    Octavia Spencer, ‘Fruitvale Station’

    Last Week: 4

    I was moved by Michael B. Jordan’s performance in Ryan Coogler’s ‘Fruitvale Station.’ It’s a tragic turn, playing a man doomed by fate. But I was blown away by Octavia Spencer’s raw power. Playing Jordan’s mother, she only gets a handful of scenes to convey a series of important emotions – disappointment at her son’s wayward decisions, hope that he’s back on the right track, quiet devastation when she loses him – and she nails each one. If ‘Fruitvale’ builds into a powerful Oscar contender, similar to last year’s ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ then Spencer can (and should) contend in the Supporting Actress category.

  • 5

    Carey Mulligan, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

    Last Week: 5

    Have you seen Mulligan spitting nails at Oscar Isaac in the deliciously disgusted trailers for ‘Inside Llewyn Davis'? Go watch them and tell me you’ve seen a better portrayal of a woman done wrong by an artist. She’s at the end of her rope with this deadbeat, and Mulligan looks like she’ll be able to turn that angst and frustration into an awards-worthy role. The young actress, who recently was nominated for ‘An Education,’ also did outstanding work opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Great Gatsby,’ but it’s the Coens’ latest that should have her in the discussion come Oscar time.