Ladies in Waiting: The Supporting Actress Nominees

These actresses backed their movie's stars and came out shining, but only one was rewarded on Oscar night. By Suzy Byrne

01 of 06

TILDA SWINTON

TILDA SWINTON
Richard Young/Startraks

Michael Clayton
Oscar History: This was Swinton's first time out for an Oscar.
2008 Scorecard: Swinton has scored four nominations, including the Golden Globe.
Before She Hit Oscar: The Brit, who attended school with Princess Diana, bet on horses semi-professionally and supported herself on the winnings for two years.
Just Getting Started: "I've always known that I would not really start my work until my forties," Swinton, 47, told L.A. Weekly. "That may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but you ain't seen nothing yet. I'm just cranking up."

02 of 06

CATE BLANCHETT

And the Oscar Nominees are...
Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage

I'm Not There
Oscar History: Five nominations, one win (for The Aviator in 2005).
2008 Scorecard: She won a Golden Globe for best supporting actress (and was also up for best actress, in addition to four other nominations this season).
Before She Hit Oscar: The Aussie star, who played Bob Dylan in the film, studied economics and fine art at the University of Melbourne.
Just One of the Guys ... Again: "I was constantly playing men at high school," Blanchett, 38, told the Today show. "I was relieved when I became a professional actor, and suddenly was able to wear dresses. I was tall, and I don't know, probably pig-headed and strong, and so therefore was often cast as men."

03 of 06

RUBY DEE

RUBY DEE
Dave Allocca/Startraks

American Gangster
Oscar History: This is the first Academy Award nomination for the 83-year-old.
2008 Scorecard: She took home the SAG Award for outstanding supporting actress.
Before She Hit Oscar: She was an aspiring writer. At age 9, her first poem – called "The Graveyard" – was published in the Amsterdam News.
Hitting Close to Home: "In the film, I see some of the very streets I lived on," the Harlem native told the NPR. "This film is where I come from. I don't know who I'd be if I weren't this child from Harlem, this woman from Harlem. It's in me so deep."

04 of 06

SAOIRSE RONAN

SAOIRSE RONAN
Dan Steinberg/AP

Atonement
Oscar History: This is the 13-year-old's first Oscar nod.
2008 Scorecard: She's received three nominations, including a Golden Globe.
Before She Hit Oscar: She was playing tag rugby and basketball in the Irish countryside with her friends.
High School vs. Hollywood: "Unless something really special such as Atonement comes up, I'm going back to school," Ronan told the Sunday Mirror.

05 of 06

AMY RYAN

AMY RYAN
Marion Curtis/Startraks

Gone Baby Gone
Oscar History: This is Ryan's first Oscar nomination.
2008 Scorecard: She's received five nominations so far, winning the NBR and Critics' Choice Awards.
Before She Hit Oscar: The Queens, N.Y., native attended LaGuardia High School – a.k.a., the Fame school.
Coming to Fruition: " I believe we control our destinies to a point, but what's happening now is a summary of hard work over the years," Ryan, 38, told Newsday. "Part of it is luck – I did happen to meet Ben Affleck, I think he was the tipping point for me. Everything else feels like it's what I've been working toward. I'm surprised and grateful."

06 of 06

And the Oscar Nominees Are...

GEORGE CLOONEY
Jason Merritt/FilmMagic

More Categories:
Best Actor
Best Supporting Actor
Best Picture
Best Actress

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