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The Fighter’ boasts best bets for supporting Oscars

“The Fighter” is going to dominate this year’s Supporting Actor and Actress categories at the Oscars.

The nominees for Best Supporting Actress are Amy Adams in “The Fighter,” Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech,” Melissa Leo in “The Fighter,” Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit” and Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom.”

This year’s Best Supporting Actress category will be, well, a fight between the women of the boxing movie “The Fighter.” Leo likely has the edge with her fiery performance as Alice Ward, the mother of Mark Wahlberg’s title character, but Adams also has a decent shot with her memorable performance as Charlene Fleming, the emotional center of the film. Steinfeld, the breakout star of “True Grit,” stands out in this category because her performance really is the leading one of the film, but she was still relegated to supporting. Her performance is the one that drives this Western remake, and, in another “Fighter”-less year, she would’ve had a decent shot at becoming another one of the young performers that the Academy loves to honor. Carter, as the queen mum in “The King’s Speech,” is delightful in her most normal performance in years. And Weaver, in a surprising nomination for the small but powerful Aussie crime drama “Animal Kingdom,” isn’t in enough of the movie to really have deserved the nomination, which should’ve gone to “Black Swan’s” Mila Kunis. Still, Weaver does what she can with a small amount of screen time.

The nominees for Best Supporting Actor are Christian Bale in “The Fighter,” John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone,” Jeremy Renner in “The Town,” Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right” and Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech.”

Bale, in a bravura turn as crack-addicted former boxer Dickie Eklund in “The Fighter,” is the obvious frontrunner for this award after dominating the pre-Oscar prizes, including the Golden Globes and SAG awards. Still, the category is filled with great performances that would have been very good contenders in other years. As the Australian speech coach Lionel Logue, Rush is the comic underpinning of “The King’s Speech.” Renner, memorable from last year’s Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker,” turned in a bold performance in “The Town,” a drama, which Ben Affleck directed, that was snubbed for a Best Picture nomination this year. It’s nice to see a nomination for Ruffalo, who is great as the sperm-donor father in “The Kids Are All Right.” Hawkes, as the protector of the teenage central character in “Winter’s Bone,” is gruff but endearing. The fact that Andrew Garfield of “The Social Network” wasn’t nominated in this category (as he easily should’ve been over Hawkes) is disappointing, but fairly irrelevant as this is essentially a category dominated by Bale and some also-rans.

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