And the nominees are...
Dale Dickey in Winter's Bone
Merab is malicious and terrifying, but like many of the characters in Winter's Bone, she's more than she seems. Dickey plays all the notes wonderfully.
Melissa Leo in The Fighter
Full of feeling, life and bouncing delightfully off of Christian Bale's performance. She's electric, right down to the outfits. So lived-in and specific.
Mia Wasikowska in The Kids Are All Right
In many ways, she's the film's saving grace. It's Joni--her eyes, her ability to communicate so much nonverbally that makes the film's conclusion all the more effective and Wasikowska sells it all. Incredibly naturalistic, open and observant. A great turn.
Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom
Frightening from the start, though you don't find out why until the end. She plays her cards close to her vest and makes Smurf one of the year's most fascinating cinematic characters. Bonus points for the little details (the kisses on the mouth...so creepy).
Dianne Wiest in Rabbit Hole
Serves a big part in lightening what could have been a heavy film. Wiest's Nat can make you laugh and break your heart. "At some point it becomes bearable." God, that line reading...
Alba Rohrwacher in I Am Love. Sells the rapport with Tilda Swinton so well. Amy Adams in The Fighter plays rough edges and a loving core so well. Imelda Staunton in a great cameo in Another Year.
The ladies of Black Swan. Neither Barbara Hershey nor Mila Kunis have a whole lot to do, but they always keep it interesting and watchable. Keira Knightley in Never Let Me Go.