Could Ruby Dee Actually Win an Oscar?

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Last night's SAG awards was marked mostly by predictable winners whose names have probably already been engraved on their Oscar statues (Daniel Day-Lewis, Julie Christie, Javier Bardem), but the ceremony did bring one pleasant surprise (two if you count Mickey Rooney's rambling presentation of the Best Actress in a TV Movie or Miniseries award, in which he begged for a standing ovation and introduced his wife): Ruby Dee's win for Best Supporting Actress. In addition to rewarding a 70-year film career, her victory (for her role as Frank Lucas's mom in American Gangster) over ostensible front-runners Cate Blanchett and Amy Ryan throws a welcome bit of uncertainty into an Oscar race that seems increasingly locked up.

But could she actually win? Maybe! As the L.A. Times' Tom O'Neil points out this morning, Supporting Actress winners at the Oscars and the SAG awards have been the same for the past five years (and the year before that, Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly was in the lead category at the SAG awards). Also, final Oscar ballots won't be sent out for another three days, so by the time voters actually make their decisions, thanks to her increased attention, Dee will probably feel like less of a long shot. Everyone knows she's overdue; despite a résumé that spans eight decades and includes films like A Raisin in the Sun and The Jackie Robinson Story, she's never even been nominated for an Academy Award. And even though her screen time in Gangster amounts to only about ten minutes, she does have that great scene where she dresses down Denzel Washington which makes a great Oscar clip and could help her sneak the award, à la Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love.

It's still pretty unlikely, but does Cate Blanchett really need another damn award anyway?

SAG winner Ruby Dee: Oscar next? [Gold Derby/ LAT]