This category features as characters a sister, a daughter, a best friend, and a mother. But it’s the last of those, the moms, that have been treated with the greatest reverence here, all the way back to Jane Darwell as Ma Joad in 1940’s classic “The Grapes of Wrath,” through more recent winners like Mo’Nique (“Precious”), Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”), Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) and Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”).
ANGELA BASSETT, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Nearly three decades after her gutsy portrayal of Tina Turner scored her a Best Actress nomination, Angela Bassett has made history as the first performer from the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever cited. “Just watching her act is like a masterclass,” said the movie’s Oscar-nominated hair designer, Camille Friend. “Marvel has had some of the best actresses in their films, but it’s truly incredible and very deserving that Angela is the first to get this nomination.”
HONG CHAU, The Whale
“The Whale” is not a film with flashbacks, but the backstory of Brendan Fraser’s Charlie is provided via his close friend and nurse, Liz, played by Chau. “As lovely as Hong is, I quickly learned that she had an uncanny ability to convey more in between the lines of dialogue,” Fraser said. “She can speak volumes in the pauses. It just underlined how talented she is and how authentically she approaches the work. I loved doing extra takes with Hong because it was a delight to watch her performance.”
KERRY CONDON, The Banshees of Inisherin
As a longtime actor in the plays of Martin McDonagh (she starred in “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” and “The Cripple of Inishmaan”), Kerry Condon loved that their familiarity could bleed into McDonagh’s “Banshees of Inisherin,” where she plays Colin Farrell’s sister. “I think it’s definitely the sadder parts of me that perhaps Martin knows more than other people,” she said. “I started to think, ‘Wow, this (part) is actually perfect for where I’m at in my life right now.’”
JAMIE LEE CURTIS, Everything Everywhere All at Once
In 1961, Janet Leigh scored an Oscar nomination for “Psycho,” two years after her then-husband Tony Curtis was nominated for “The Defiant Ones.” More than six decades later, their daughter, an iconic presence in movies since 1978’s “Halloween,” is now an Oscar nominee, too. “(‘EEAAO’) is a movie about a family of immigrants and their struggles through life,” Jamie Lee Curtis wrote on Instagram. “Immediately I’m thinking of my parents, children of immigrants from Hungary and Denmark, whose families came here and sacrificed for their children to achieve their dreams.”
STEPHANIE HSU, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Perhaps it was her experience on the Broadway stage (in “Be More Chill” and “The SpongeBob Musical”) that prepped Stephanie Hsu for her extravagant, dug-deep, dual role as a daughter and her alter-ego in “EEAAO.” “The beautiful thing about art is that it makes you feel less alone,” the actress said about the response to the film — adding, with a laugh, “It’s very healing for me because I didn’t know how many people had such specific mother-daughter relationships.”
Unless there’s a surge for “The Banshees of Inisherin” that helps push Kerry Condon to the forefront, or a move to make this a de-facto lifetime achievement award for the eternally cool Jamie Lee Curtis, this race seems to be tilting toward Angela Bassett. The first acting nominee from a Marvel film could become the first Marvel acting winner, courtesy of a role that helps her sum up the enormous loss the MCU felt over the death of Chadwick Boseman.