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Maggie Smith, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" - Supporting Actress
At one time, the planets were aligning to turn the two-time winner into the movie incarnation of "Betty White" (or Jack Palance). A hit series on PBS and in the UK with "Downton Abbey," a leading role in Dustin Hoffman's slight "Quartet" and a scene-stealing role in the box office indie hit "The Best Marigold Hotel." That's a lot of Oscar-heat for the 78-year-old legend. Smith landed a SAG Awards nomination for "Marigold," but surprisingly was passed over in the supporting actress category by the HFPA in favor of "The Master's" Amy Adams (arguably the best performance of the field). And yes, the HFPA did nominate her for "Quartet," but that isn't an Oscar player. While the HFPA clearly isn't the Academy, it was a sign that Smith wasn't perceived as a "given." Moreover, Adams has become a huge Academy favorite with three nominations over the past seven years and could easily garner enough support to crack the field. Does that mean Smith is out?
- Gregory Ellwood