Scan this year’s list of supporting actress Oscar nominees and you may notice a missing name: Cate Blanchett.
In “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” she stars opposite Brad Pitt as Daisy, perfectly embodying the kind of fashionable, flaky female who often seemed to be flitting through the mind of F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose short story inspired the film. But for some reason, Blanchett is practically the only “Button” principal who didn’t get a nomination - the film earned 13, more than any other.
Blanchett’s absence proves that the Oscars aren’t totally predictable. It also leaves this category somewhat tough to call. Here are the actresses who made the cut:
ACTRESS: Taraji P. Henson
MOVIE: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
THE DEAL” Sheesh, even this relative unknown got a nod with “Button.” After playing a hooker in “Hustle & Flow” and a hottie hit-woman in “Smokin’ Aces,” Henson goes for a more down-to-earth role as the adoptive mother of an abandoned child.
ACTRESS: Viola Davis
THE DEAL: This stage actress outperforms both Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman in her minor role as the mother of a troubled Catholic schoolboy. Though her screen time is brief, she leaves a lasting impression.
ACTRESS: Amy Adams
THE DEAL: Adams, so charming in “Enchanted” and so sympathetic in “Junebug,” here barely registers in a tertiary role as a naive young nun. The nomination seems puzzling enough, let alone a win.
ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz
MOVIE: “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
THE DEAL: As a hotheaded, bisexual, suicidal Spaniard, Cruz almost literally explodes in this terrific Woody Allen comedy. But in the equivalent categories at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards, Cruz lost. (Kate Winslet won both for her role in “The Reader.”)
ACTRESS: Marisa Tomei
MOVIE: “The Wrestler”
THE DEAL: The 44-year-old Tomei won this category with 1992’s “My Cousin Vinny” and just may win it again. Her portrayal of an aging stripper is brave and vulnerable, and the critical enthusiasm for this movie could work in her favor.