Oscars: Best supporting actress nominees

A look at the best supporting actress nominees at 84th Academy Awards on 26 February 2012.

Berenice Bejo

Berenice Bejo (centre) in The Artist

Age: 35

Nominated for: The Artist

The character: Peppy Miller, a rising star at the start of Hollywood's talkie era

Oscar record: None

The critics said: "Bejo's performance is dazzling: loose-limbed, big-hearted and anchored by an appealing lack of self-consciousness. Hazanavicius's camera follows her around like an adoring puppy, every bit as in love with her wide expressive face as the man behind the lens" - Benjamin Secher, the Telegraph.

Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain in The Help

Age: 30

Nominated for: The Help

The character: Wannabe socialite Celia Foote, ostracised by high society because she was born in Sugar Ditch, Mississippi, but whose relationship with her maid, Minny, is in stark contrast to that of her more respectable contemporaries.

Oscar record: None

The critics said: "Celia Foote could have been a bombshell cliche if the incandescent Jessica Chastain didn't play her with such warmth and feeling" - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.

Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids

Age: 41

Nominated for: Bridesmaids

The character: Megan, the straight-talking, sexually liberated and puppy-liberating future sister-in-law to Lillian (Maya Rudolph). Sample dialogue: "I'm glad he's single because I'm going to climb that like a tree."

Oscar record: None

The critics said: "The stand out here is Melissa McCarthy, a rotund bundle of coarse impropriety who, as mannish, debauched vulgarian Megan, goes all out to be this flick's Zach Galifianakis" - Neil Smith, Total Film.

Janet McTeer

Janet McTeer

Age: 50

Nominated for: Albert Nobbs

The character: Macho, chain-smoking house painter Hubert Page, who is actually a woman masquerading as a man in 19th Century Ireland after leaving her abusive husband.

Oscar record: Nominated for best actress in 2000 for Tumbleweeds

The critics said: "McTeer's sly, exuberant performance is a pure delight, and the counterpoint between her physical expressiveness and Close's tightly coiled reserve is a marvel to behold" - A O Scott, New York Times.

Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer in The Help

Age: 41

Nominated for: The Help

The character: Minny, a maid with a quick temper and smart mouth, whose creative approach to baking provides one of the film's most memorable moments.

Oscar record: None

The critics said: "Spencer, as the quietly crusading Minny, has some of the movie's best comic moments, though she never lets us lose sight of the justifiable anger and frustration that have come to rule her life" - Stephanie Zacherek, Movieline.

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