They’re wives of passionate, powerful men, mothers who go to any length to provide the solace only a mother can provide. One of them is wife and mother, but her nurturing extends beyond husband and child. They may not occupy the center of the film’s focus—but without them, the focus would be lost. Let’s take a look at this year’s nominees for Best Supporting Actress.

Amy AdamsThe Master
Amy Adams plays Peggy Dodd, the sweet-looking, yet manipulative wife of a religious cult leader played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Adams received rave reviews from critics who revered her subtle performance as the powerful woman behind the man.

We can also see Adams in Enchanted playing Giselle, a Disney princess banished from her cartoon world of Analasia and into the chaos of New York City. Adams brings to life the archetypal Disney princess’s innocence, optimism, strength, and independence.

Sally FieldLincoln
In this historical drama that centers on the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life, Sally Field is Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, a complex and difficult woman who’s also a staunch supporter of her husband’s political ideals. Although Field’s screen time is limited, she delicately presents this controversial character of U.S. history through a nuanced and touching performance.

Field is already an Academy Award winner for her performance in Forrest Gump as a mother who unconditionally loves her slow-witted son, and the one who supplies him with many of the iconic one liners that made this film a classic.

Anne HathawayLes Miserables
In this film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s historic novel, Hathaway is Fantine, the young Parisian woman who sells her hair and resorts to prostitution in order to provide for her child. Hathaway has been praised for her moving musical performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” as well as her heartfelt portrayal of the timeless character.

Hathaway scored an Academy Award nomination for Rachel Getting Married in her role of Kym, a tormented soul fresh out of rehab who goes to her sister Rachel’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding, ready to create havoc and dust off old skeletons.

Helen HuntThe Sessions
In this funny and moving film, Helen Hunt is Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a sex surrogate hired to work with Mark O’Brian, a journalist and poet who has lived for 38 years paralyzed from the neck down. He’s now ready to lose his virginity.

In As Good as it Gets, Hunt played Carol Connelly, a struggling waitress in New York City who meets acerbic novelist Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson). Together, they’re able to create a charming and witty romantic comedy (that won them both Academy Awards).

Jacki WeaverSilver Linings Playbook
Jackie Weaver stars opposite Robert De Niro as Dolores Solitano, the mother of a teacher (Bradley Cooper) recently released from a mental institution who finds himself back home living with his parents.

Jackie Weaver is also Sylvia Dickerson-Barnes in The Five-Year Engagement, a hilarious romantic comedy in which Tom Solomon (Jason Segel) and Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt) are madly in love and get engaged—it just takes them a little longer than normal to walk down the aisle.