If you want to see Oscar-caliber talent without paying for a movie ticket, you could do worse than watching a Chuck Lorre sitcom.
Actresses with strong ties to Lorre’s CBS hits — Allison Janney, Laurie Metcalf and Octavia Spencer, who already has one Oscar — dominate the Academy Award supporting-actress category, taking three out of five spots in the list of nominations announced Tuesday.
Janney, who plays Bonnie on Mom, is a first-time Oscar nominee but may be the frontrunner for supporting actress after winning a Screen Actors Guild award and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Tonya Harding’s mother in I, Tonya.
Janney is a proven TV awards magnet, having snagged six Emmys: three for her work on The West Wing, two for Mom and one for Showtime’s Masters of Sex.
Metcalf, who has a recurring role as Sheldon’s mother, Mary Cooper, on The Big Bang Theory, also is considered a strong contender after receiving her first nomination. She plays the mother of a teen daughter — sense a maternal theme here? — in Greta Gerwig’s best-picture nominee, Lady Bird. Her most recent Big Bang appearance was just two weeks ago.
She first worked with Lorre on Roseanne, where she won three Emmys playing Roseanne’s sister, Jackie. She resumes that role when Roseannereturns to ABC on March 27 (without Lorre).
Spencer, who has appeared in nine Mom episodes as a friend, to varying degrees, of Bonnie and her daughter, Christy (Anna Faris), is well-suited to advise her rookie colleagues on Oscar etiquette, since her nomination for The Shape of Water is her third.
Spencer won the supporting actress statuette for 2012’s The Help — which Janney appeared in — and returned for last year’s ceremony with a nomination in the same category for Hidden Figures.
“It’s wonderful,” Lorre tells USA TODAY of the Oscar love for his actors. “I’ve gotten to watch these three women work up close and they’re masters of their craft. To see them getting acknowledged like that is really gratifying, because they’re astonishing actresses. And they’re really nice people and fun to work with.”
As for whether he’ll have a rooting interest on Oscar night, he says, “No. I can’t do that.”
But Melissa McCarthy, who starred in Lorre’s Mike & Molly, might advise Janney on how to juggle a lead sitcom role with the demands of Oscar season: She was nominated for supporting actress for 2011’s Bridesmaids.
And while Spencer could give Janney and Metcalf advice on acceptance speeches, so could Kathy Bates, who stars in Lorre’s pot-infused Netflix comedy, Disjointed. She has three Academy Award nominations and won as lead actress for 1990’s Misery.
When it comes to actresses on Lorre shows snagging Oscar nominations, the Miserywinner now has plenty of company.