The Best Supporting Actress Oscar Winners of All Time, Ranked – MovieWeb

Taking a look at some of the best all-time winners for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars, ranked.
Now that the Golden Globes have premiered, and several stars have swept up plenty of well-deserved awards, awards show season is officially here. There's an entire list compiled, so you can stay up to date for when you want to see your favorite stars possibly take home a prize for their acting. One of the most anticipated award shows of the year is the Oscars, and it might be surprising to know that they keep the date of the show a secret until it draws closer, making the anticipation that much better. A category that's often talked about among the audience and lovers of film is the nomination for Best Supporting Actress, since there's a wider berth of options when comparing it to other awards throughout the night. Talented women go head-to-head in order to achieve such an award, but there's always one winner in the end. Here's a list of the best all-time winners for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars.
The Last Picture Show is just like any other coming-of-age story; raunchy and sentimental. The story follows two friends who are high school seniors, and Cloris Leachman plays Ruth, an older woman who Sonny has an affair with. She's the wife of the football coach at the high school they both attend, and Sonny finds himself being pulled in; not phased by their age difference. He does end up dropping Ruth when another woman comes around, but in the end, the pair end up together in a weird relationship of sorts.
Olympia Dukakis might have won the Oscar award because of how well she portrayed an older Italian wife. Her mannerisms, her way of talking, and the way she deals with her family issues are so genuine; it's no wonder she nabbed the award. When her character Rose learns of her husband's infidelity, she doesn't leave him or cause a huge scene that starts a well-deserved argument. Instead, she calmly sits at their dinner table and very quietly asks him to not see the woman again. Her husband agrees, and that's that.
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Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei truly had great chemistry with each other throughout the comedy that is My Cousin Vinny, landing Tomei the award for Best Supporting Actress. Tomei's character is what you might expect from a movie such as this; a stereotypical New York-Italian woman who's not only a loud dresser, but also loud in general, and proud of it. The scene in which she takes the stand and unloads about her knowledge of cars is great; her accent exaggerating everything, and the judge is barely hanging on as she speaks.
To this day, Jennifer Hudson's cover of "And I'm Telling You" from this movie is talked about because of how she belted it and honestly, and made it her own song. Her range of emotions just through that performance alone sealed her in for the win of Best Supporting Actress. Hudson got her start on the hit show American Idol and very quickly erupted into stardom with her powerful voice and acting skills, starring in not only Dreamgirls, but also having a role in the first Sex and the City. In the film, she was often compared to Beyoncé's character, but in real life, Hudson truly held her own.
Based on a play of the same name, California Suite is a good-hearted movie about different people staying in a hotel room; the plot rotates between different stories, and it's a great tactic to keep the audience engaged. Maggie Smith, who won the award, plays Diana Barrie, a British actress who has a failing career, which she's very much aware of. However, she's in denial that her husband isn't actually gay, when in reality, he is, and he doesn't bother to hide it. Smith goes through a range of emotions, as she loses more and more of her composure throughout the film, resulting in some funny moments.
When one thinks of the movie Ghost, they most likely think of the iconic pottery scene. However, one can't help but also think of Whoopi Goldberg's iconic character, Oda Mae Brown, the psychic. Goldberg and Swayze have great chemistry together, often playing off each other to create hilarious scenes; such as when Oda Mae sees how much money is in Sam's bank account.
If you've seen this amazing movie, then the "chocolate" pie scene has stuck with you ever since. Octavia Spencer plays Minny Jackson, a maid that has a mind of her own and a huge heart. She's there for her best friend, Aibileen Clark, more than anything, and escapes an abusive relationship with her husband, all the while working for white families that don't treat her that great. Spencer's work in The Help rightfully won her Best Supporting Actress; her range is impeccable, as she shows how versatile Minny is.
It's almost hard to imagine a young Meryl Streep, since she's been in several notable movies at an older age, but her work in Kramer vs Kramer is truly something to note. She plays the role of neglectful mother very well, leaving her husband and son, so she can find her true self; which in 1979, was a big topic to tackle. Streep manages the angle of feminism and motherhood very well, making the audience conflicted in how they feel about her character.
If there's one thing Viola Davis is going to do, it's going to be giving the best performance of her life, through every single role she takes on. With Fences, directed by her co-star Denzel Washington, she gave the role her everything, and it's proven with her monologue that she delivers. With tears and snot dripping down her face, Davis secured Best Supporting Actress; then admitting that she had to film that iconic monologue scene 23 times in order to get it right.
In 2021, Youn Yuh-jung became the first Korean actress to win the Best Supporting Actress award, and can we just say… about time? The film is about a family from South Korea who move to Arkansas to start a new life with a minari farm, and soon come to learn that it's quite difficult. Yuh-jung's character comes to live with the family, and the entire film is very authentic when it comes to raising children, having your mother live with you, and balancing new beginnings all at once.
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This film based on a true story has a magnificent list of cast members on it, and Chiwetel Ejiofor deserves all his snaps for his portrayal as Solomon. That being said, Lupita Nyong'o won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Patsy, and it was well-deserved. The emotion and heart she put into her character is harrowing and heartbreaking, making the audience ache for some sort of relief while watching. Nyong'o has proved time and time again that she's up there with other big names, and her role in 12 Years a Slave only strengthens that statement.
Anne Hathaway truly doesn't get the credit she deserves for how great of an actress she really is. Her role as Fantine in Les Misérables is haunting and beautiful; her voice angelic and sad, as she's constantly mistreated. Hathaway cut her actual hair for the tragic scene in which she has to resort to selling her hair and teeth to take care of her child; the shot of her hair falling all around her was real and authentic. Hathaway singing "I Dreamed a Dream" all in one take, with no cuts, is reason enough for her to win the award. She was absolutely fantastic.
Book fanatic, movie lover and can remember any side character even if they had fifteen seconds of screentime.

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