Every year, Oscar nominations are usually given out to at least one or two surprising names. Or at the least, names that are getting a larger recognition for the first time. This year, a couple of Oscar nominees offered some gasps to those in attendance and those watching around the world. Or if they weren’t surprising, they got their first share of big time fame this morning. Melissa Leo, Taraji P. Henson, Michael Shannon and Richard Jenkins are among those names this Oscar season.
Melissa Leo is a veteran actress whose name may not be that familiar to many fans. Perhaps even Leo’s face isn’t that recognizable either. But late this summer, Leo got herself known to many critics and art house devotees with her turn in Frozen River. Leo won raves as a poor Minnesota woman who gets involved with smuggling illegal immigrants into the country.
Despite Frozen River being a late-summer indie, Leo remained talked about and hailed by critics into Oscar season. But in a crowded Best Actress field with many big names, Leo had about a 50/50 shot to get into the field. However, Leo beat out the likes of Kristen Scott Thomas, Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins to get a final Best Actress spot.
In Best Supporting Actress, Taraji P. Henson joined Viola Davis as the second African-American nominee in the category. Henson got in for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, playing the caretaker to the aging-backwards Benjamin Button.
Henson, unlike Leo, may have been known by a few more people before this Oscar season. Her work in films like Hustle and Flow and Talk To Me made her an actress on the rise. Henson finally broke through with Benjamin Button, and was a contender for a nomination from the start.
Henson was on the bubble heading into this morning, but she rode the Benjamin Button tide of 13 nominations to get an Oscar nod herself.
In Best Supporting Actor, Michael Shannon was also right on the edge of the bubble. Shannon, a character actor in past movies like World Trade Center and Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, broke out in Revolutionary Road this fall. Shannon only had a few scenes as a mentally disabled 50’s suburbanite, but critics hailed him as nearly stealing the film from Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
Shannon blazed to become an Oscar front runner early in the fall, but as Revolutionary Road faded to the back of the race, Shannon looked to fade as well. But Shannon managed to sneak into the final Oscar spot, serving as Revolutionary Road’s sole major Oscar nominee.
Finally there’s Richard Jenkins, a beloved character actor for many years. Jenkins’ first leading role in last spring’s The Visitor won him a new level of stardom, giving him enough buzz to last throughout the Oscar season.
Now Jenkins has his first Oscar nomination, beating out far bigger names like Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio.
JS Online- “Oscar Surprises!” www.jsonline.com/blogs/entertainment/38135829.html