Patricia Arquette for Lead or Supporting in Boyhood?

It’s a frustrating conundrum, this Patricia Arquette thing in Boyhood. There seems to be some confusion as to whether she will go lead or supporting. When this subject comes up I always go to Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook. She is, to my mind, a supporting character but she won in lead and never stopped winning in lead. Arquette seems to me too big of a star with too much of a career behind her to be considering supporting and yet many in my field are saying supporting is where she has the best chance to win.

Boyhood is clearly about a boy, a young kid growing up from age 9 to 18. Arquette plays his mother, who also clearly evolves dramatically from the beginning of the film to the end. Her character changes from young mother to college professor. All of the characters in Boyhood evolve because they have been evolving in real life, for one thing – but they also consider who their characters are when they re-assembled with Richard Linklater to film every 12 years. When I interviewed Arquette (to be posted soon) she talked about spending time considering who her character would be — different from who she herself was — at a given point in time, even considering whether she would be wearing her hair long or short but also where she’d be emotionally. Since the film jumps forward in time, Arquette had to figure out how to go from young mother, to tired single mother, to rescued but then abused wife, to single mother again, to rescued then physically abused wife, to finally, self-possessed, confident woman. Hers is one of the most notable trajectories in the film.

And yet, one can make the argument for supporting being her better chance to win, but her part being TOO BIG for the supporting category.

Anne Thompson has just put out her Oscar predictions — she never predicts films she hasn’t seen so her list is preliminary, not what you generally see around the web, which are SIGHT UNSEEN predictions. She currently has Arquette in lead, not supporting.

35 Comments on this Post

  1. I think it might be best to campaign Arquette in Best Actress Category, because its not a strong year in the category

  2. In the old Hollywood days, she’d be Lead because she is the clear female “star” name. But for today, and for purposes of the story in Boyhood, I would say Supporting because so much of the story focuses on Mason. Ditto, Ethan Hawke.

  3. Bryce Forestieri

    I believe she’s the lead and would prefer if they nominate her for a leading performance, but something tells me the film will lose significant “awards steam” by the time ballots are handed out — so if by then she has much better chances in ‘Supporting’ they should definitely wise-up about it. hashtag::NotAgainstIt

    I hope people don’t forget about Ethan Hawke. He too must be heavily campaigned, he has good chances of getting in Supporting Actor.

    One last thing: If by the time the season is in full swing BOYHOOD is still one of the main BP/BD/BOS players, Sandra Adair and Linklater should come up with a concise way to explain their editing decisions, add also a couple of thematic sound bites to avoid a repeat of last year’s Schoonmaker fiasco. These people require you to spoon-feed them, remember!

    C’mon, IFC, pony up! don’t be slackers with this one!

  4. “Arquette seems to me too big of a star with too much of a career behind her to be considering supporting…”

    Huh? What does that have to do with whether she should be considered for lead or supporting for this specific role in Boyhood? Was George Clooney not considered a big star when he won his supporting Oscar?

  5. “Was George Clooney not considered a big star when he won his supporting Oscar?”

    He was considered a big star.

  6. Surprised you don’t list Ethan Hawke in your side column under Supporting.
    As good as Arquette is, Hawke is every bit as good and creates a memorable,
    complex character. He’s long overdue, too.

  7. I consider Coltrane the sole lead in the film, everyone else supporting. Arquette being considered in Supporting isn’t a comment on quality. I think it’s easy to think of the lead categories as better or more prestigious than the supporting, but that’s not the case. I doubt I’ll see a better performance this year than Arquette’s in Boyhood.

  8. Bryce Forestieri

    Patricia Arquette in BOYHOOD has much more of a “leading” role than let’s say Amy Adams in AMERICAN HUSTLE. Sasha is just considering the politics and so am I. BOYHOOD is just as delicate as it is consummate. It is very likely that those four available spots will be filled out with bigger-name actresses in films with higher profiles, and roles with more wow factor.

  9. phantom

    I loved her performance, I think she gave the best one in the film but to be honest I think it was a supporting turn. A prominent and remarkably executed supporting turn. I also firmly believe the very strong narrative backs this up : the film is about Mason and the people in his life therefore he is the sole lead. One could argue that the wonderul Arquette is the FEMALE lead and that would be true, she is, but in my opinion having the biggest female role in a film does not equal a lead role.

  10. Miss Arquette if you’re listening – I bet you can win in supporting (AND it’s a supporting part).

  11. It’s a Lesley Manville/Another Year situation. I think either category makes sense because Arquette doesn’t really have lead screen time but I do think she’s the emotional center of BOYHOOD and I’m sure she’ll end up in whichever group seems easiest to sneak into.

  12. After seeing the film, it seems obvious that Coltrane is the lead and Arquette/Hawke are supporting parts. I don’t really see how you could argue that Arquette is the lead whatsoever — she has the biggest female part, but she isn’t the lead role at all.

    I know that category-flipping is a common practice for the sake of Oscar campaigns, yet c’mon, Arquette is a clear supporting part in this film. Too aggressive a ‘lead’ campaign could actually turn voters off from nominating her for anything, which would be a shame since in my view she is 100 percent deserving of a supporting actress nomination and maybe even a win.

  13. Oh, also, I’d definitely have Hawke in the mix for supporting actor. I’m not as sold on Coltrane just because I think his performance really is a creation of the editing and ‘process’ of how the movie was made, whereas Arquette and Hawke are really doing a lot of subtle and nuanced acting choices throughout.

    In the Q Mark Oscars, ‘Boyhood’ is currently looking at nominations for Picture, Director, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor and Editing.

  14. Al Robinson

    “In the Q Mark Oscars”

    Nice Q Mark. I call my end of the year awards the: “Al Awards”. :-)

    Since, I STILL haven’t seen Boyhood, although, I might this coming week, I have Guardians of the Galaxy in first place for an Al Award for Best Picture.

    My current six for my own BP:

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Guardians of the Galaxy
    The Monuments Men
    Noah
    Snowpiercer

  15. Bryce Forestieri

    “It’s a Lesley Manville/Another Year situation”

    +1

  16. Both cases can certainly be made. The best scenes in the movie are mostly connected through her, and it’s her life decisions that ultimately lead the way for the protagonist.

    I’d put her as a lead myself. Studios can make a case for either.

  17. Philip H.

    My thoughts are… she could possibly sneak into the Lead Actress category. But they will campaign her as supporting, and she will be nominated. And has a good chance of winning. At least at this point.

  18. The Great Dane

    Thompson has Streep in supporting, even though it’s been made clear by sources that she is lead and that Blunt and Kendrick are supporting.

  19. Edwin Drood

    Clearly this is a supporting role – and she should consider herself lucky if she makes it into the lineup (tough for a third-tier distributor to break into the big 6 categories). Hawke will be in line ahead of her (obviously in supporting) when it comes to AMPAS’ actors – legit critics rated his performance at least her equal and he’s received multiple nominations already…

  20. It’s in the grey area for sure. It’s hard to think of 12 years’ worth of work as ‘supporting’, but I think it’s a supporting role since Olivia’s screentime is clearly second to Mason’s. Bigger roles have gone supporting and won (ie: George Clooney in Syriana, Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock, Jennifer Connolley in A Beautiful Mind, Christoph Waltz in Django, etc.). She’s in maybe half the film? But Boyhood is Patricia Arquette’s show, especially thanks to that last scene.

    She owns the movie and I’ll root for her either way.

  21. Don’t forget the ‘Slap the Stud’ rule for Clooney’s win. So far the only stud in his prime to (ever?) win Best Actor is McConaughey. Clooney won’t be winning Best Actor anytime soon. And McConaughey won not just for Dallas Buyers Club, but because he had put together such an impressive body of work over the previous three years.

    I think Arquette will be campaigned for lead if this year is as weak in lead actresses contenders as it looks right now. But I think she’d be an absolute lock to win supporting despite the fact it looks like the supporting actress category (sight largely unseen) has more interesting performances in it.

    After giving Meryl Streep a totally undeserved nomination last year, I hope the Academy will decide not to automatically add her in (though they also appear to give automatic nominations to Amy Adams and Julianne Moore too).

  22. “they also appear to give automatic nominations to Amy Adams and Julianne Moore too”

    What are you talking about? Moore hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar since 2002.

  23. In my mind, Ellar Coltrane is the sole lead of “Boyhood”.
    Arquette & Hawke give awesome supporting performances: it would be great to see them get nominated and even win.
    FWIW, I would also say Julianne Moore has a supporting role in “Maps to the Stars”.

  24. therealmike

    If Jennifer Lawrence was supporting, then so were Emmanuelle Riva and Naomi Watts. And if they were supporting then Anne Hathaway had a cameo and Jacki Weaver was just an extra.

  25. In what is shaping up as a very weak year for lead actress nominations, Arquette could definitely find herself on Oscar nomination morning in lead. And so could Angeline Jolie (for “Malificent”). AND Shailene Woodly(sp?) for “Fault in Our Stars.”

    In Supporting Arquette would be unfortunately up against Dame Maggie Smith for “My Old Lady.” Smith could get her THIRD Oscar for that role, playing a 92-year-old who lies about her age and says she’s 90.

  26. I think she’s supporting and has a better chance of thriving in that category, especially once all the lead performances start getting released in the fall. It’s a small gem of a performance in a small gem of a movie.

  27. Keil S.

    It’s not age “9 to 18.”

  28. RobMiles

    Jennifer Lawrence and Naomi Watts were considered Lead because they were the main female characters in their films, as well as being ‘stars,’ although they may not have had the most screen time.

    Patricia Arquette may be the main female character in her film, but she isn’t what I would call a ‘star.’ By saying that I’m not putting her down, lots of my favourite actresses weren’t or aren’t ‘stars’ either. In that sense, Patricia is really what the Supporting Actress was category was introduced for.

  29. filmboymichael

    when I think of supporting players going lead, I immediately go to Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line….

  30. K. Bowen

    Patricia Arquette is a star?

  31. Daveylow

    I think she should be supporting. This felt like an ensemble movie to me but if anyone’s the lead, for me, it’s Mason Jr.

  32. Philofilms

    She’s supporting. Lead actress carries the film; supporting actress makes a good film better. She’s clearly in the supporting category.

  33. Having finally seen this movie I feel this is a strong supporting role. Ellar Coltrane is the only lead. But then I expect she shares similar screen time to Frances McDormand in Fargo {where her supporting role won for lead actress while the lead William H Macy was nominated for supporting actor!}. But I am sticking with supporting actress for Patricia Arquette here.

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