Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Countdown: Best Supporting Actress

The Critics’ Choice Move Awards will air live on VH1 on Thursday, January 12th. Hosted by Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards will feature a virtual galaxy of stars on hand for one of the first major awards of the year. In an attempt to keep you excited about the awards I am profiling this year’s nominees all the way up until the big day, January 12th.

Today: Best Supporting Actress

Berenice Bejo in The Artist

Who is Berenice Bejo and where has Hollywood kept her hiding? Bejo actually made her American film debut in 2001 working with Heath Ledger and Shannyn Sossomon in A Knight’s Tale. Before that she’d earned the French equivalent of the Oscar, The Cesar, for Most Promising Young Actress.

From there she made movies in France until her husband, director Michel Hazanavicius, cast her as Peppy Miller in The Artist. Nepotism may have played a role in her winning the role but Bejo makes the role of Peppy her own with a graceful and witty silent film performance.

Jessica Chastain in The Help

It’s been a huge year for Jessica Chastain who seemed to star in every other movie not starring Michael Fassbender. Chastain was the emotional center of director Terence Malick’s artful exploration of the universe, Tree of Life, as well as Michael Shannon’s muse in the thrilling Take Shelter.

Chastain’s most chameleonic performance however, came in her most mainstream movie. In The Help Chastain transformed into a sympathetic sexpot desperate for acceptance and completely lacking in self-possession. Chastain’s performance is naïve yet raw in the way she portrays ignorance, bliss and desperation with fearlessness and a guileless sensitivity.

Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids

I have loved Melissa McCarthy since she was Snookie on Gilmore Girls and seeing her breakout in the year’s funniest performance in Bridesmaids is a welcome sight. It’s fair to compare McCarthy’s naive, headstrong weirdo to Zach Galifianakis’ similarly lacking in self-awareness character in The Hangover.

However, doing so takes away from the unique beats rhythms that McCarthy brings to her weirdo character. McCarthy’s Megan in Bridesmaids exists in a world of her own creation that other people happen to wander through from time to time and wind up either awestruck by her creative outlook or the comic victim of her oddity.

Carey Mulligan in Shame

I may be alone on this but I actually believe that Carey Mulligan was nominated for the wrong role. I feel strongly that Mulligan’s much more subtle and subdued performance in Drive is better than her more showy and emotional turn in Shame.

Then again, to be completely fair, I am not the biggest fan of director Steve McQueen’s sexually dysfunctional drama. With that out of the way, I understand what my fellow critics found appealing about Mulligan’s performance in Shame. For one thing, Mulligan’s haunting, balladic take on “New York, New York” is very compelling.

Octavia Spencer in The Help

Octavia Spencer has been in so many movies in so many small roles it’s about time she was given the chance to shine. The Help offered Spencer her largest role to date as the long suffering maid to Bryce Dallas Howard’s shrewish housewife.

Spencer earned her nomination in this category for her full force portrayal of a strong woman who’s finally had enough. Her revenge on her former employer may have been undignified but Spencer sells it with conviction and thanks to her performance we’re still talking about it today.

Shailene Woodley in The Descendants

While George Clooney puts on a brave face as the betrayed husband to an unfaithful, comatose wife, Shailene Woodley beautifully captures the rage, resignation and confusion of a teenage girl enduring adult failures in The Descendants. Woodley’s strong-willed, self-assured performance grows beyond similar performances by actresses of Woodley’s age thanks to Woodley’s worldly air, a before your time maturity that mixes just the right amount of rebelliousness and vulnerability.

The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards air on VH1 on Thursday, January 12th. Vote for your favorite Supporting Actress at