9. Catherine Keener - Captain Phillips
Catherine Keener is one of the more underrated actresses of our time. She has done consistently great supporting work for over a decade now, and while she has received critical kudos on occasion, she's never burst into full on stardom as her talents merit. Whether it be terrific offbeat work in Charlie Kaufman-penned tales such as Being John Malkovich and Synecdoche, New York, more subdued and sincere performances in films like Into the Wild and Capote, or even broad comedy in Judd Apatow's The 40 Year Old Virgin, Ms. Keener is one of the most reliable and capable actresses of her generation. This is largely why I am so confident of her chances at receiving an Oscar nomination in the forthcoming Paul Greengrass film, Captain Phillips. She has some history in the category as well, twice being selected by the Academy's Acting branch as nomination worthy before (Being John Malkovich and Capote), so there is some history there to make this more than a mere case of blinded optimism or wishful thinking. She may not have received the level of praise her performances have merited, but clearly the Academy knows who she is. In Captain Philips, the film based on the life of Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), a captain of an American cargo ship that was held hostage by Somali pirates in 2009, Catherine Keener plays the worried wife to Hanks' seafarer. Playing a distressed wife of a husband in peril has been successful with the Academy in the past and Ms. Keener is sure to imbue the part with a level of humanity, while avoiding over-the-top histrionics, that the Academy will be hard-pressed not to appreciate. My biggest concern for Keener's chances was the film itself, given that director Paul Greengrass has not held much sway inside the Academy outside a lone Best Director nod for his 9/11 recreationist flick, United 93. After watching the surprisingly intriguing, sleek, and Academy-friendly trailer for film though, my fears of the film hurting Ms. Keener's chances were assuaged a great deal.