Oscars 2015: Best supporting actress
A look at the best supporting nominees for the 87th Academy Awards.
WINNER: PATRICIA ARQUETTE
Nominated for: Boyhood
The character: Arquette plays Olivia Evans, the struggling, yet deeply loving mother to Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, and Samantha, played by Lorelei Linklater.
Oscar record: This is Arquette's first Oscar nomination.
The critics said: "The performances are nicely understated. Coltrane's laid back acting style contributed greatly to the film's truthfulness. Arquette's naturalistic approach gave the movie its heart and soul. She repeatedly fails in her personal relationships, but not with her children. They survive because of her soul-searching and good intentions." Paul Chambers, Movie Chambers
Nominated for: Wild
The character: Dern plays Bobbi, the mother - suffering from cancer - of hiker-memoirist Cheryl Strayed, played by Reese Witherspoon.
Oscar record: Nominated for best actress in Rambling Rose in 1991.
The critics said: "When you see the depth of love between Cheryl and her mom, radiantly portrayed by Laura Dern, in a series of stunning scenes, you understand how she became so unmoored." Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly
Nominated for: The Imitation Game
The character: Knightley plays the real-life cryptanalyst Joan Clarke, a friend and confidant of codebreaker Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, at Bletchley Park.
Oscar record: Knightley was nominated for lead actress for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice in 2006.
The critics said: "While Cumberbatch delivers a performance likely to earn him a much-deserved Oscar nomination for best actor, he is also fortunate to be surrounded by quite the outstanding troupe of fellow players - especially Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, the only woman deemed smart enough to make the cut in Turing's team of codebreakers." Bill Zwecker, Chicago Sun-Times
Nominated for: Birdman
The character: Stone plays the daughter and personal assistant of Riggan Thomson, played by Michael Keaton, a washed-up actor searching for a comeback on Broadway.
Oscar record: This is her first nomination.
The critics said: "It's fun to see Emma Stone play a more troubled, unstable character here; her eyeliner-rimmed eyes seem to contain both love and loathing for her father." Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press
Nominated for: Into the Woods
The character: Streep plays the manipulative witch in this screen adaptation of the hit Stephen Sondheim Broadway show of the same name.
Oscar record: Streep has won the best actress Oscar two times and supporting actress once. In total she's been nominated for best actress 15 times and supporting actress three times.
The critics said: "Meryl Streep plays the witch to perfection — both in hag and glamorous form — but she isn't the best possible singer. At times, it sounds as though she's channelling Bernadette Peters, who originated the role on Broadway." Randy Shulman, Metro Weekly.