Last year there were rumors from Gold Derby's Tom O'Nneil that Meryl may be pushed supporting for August: Osage County. We know how that turned out, as we know how it turns out every time Meryl seems to be on the bubble for category placement. One could argue that Streep could have been campaigned in supporting for One True Thing, The Devil Wears Prada, Julie & Julia and August. All of those roles earned her Academy Award nominations in the lead category, where her arguably lead younger female co-stars were either relegated to supporting (Julia Roberts), or not recognized at all.
Now there are reasons to suspect that Disney may be toying with the possibility of placing Meryl in the supporting category for her role as the Witch in Into the Woods. This weekend, Cleyton Davis of Awards Circuit updated his Oscar predictions, now placing Meryl in second place in the supporting cagtegory, where he had previously had her in lead (still top five I think but not nearly as high). He also switched Emily Blunt from supporting to lead. Does he know some inside information? Also, Deadline's Pete Hammond indicated today that he feels Streep is a strong contender is supporting. The only Gold Derbery "experts" to include Meryl in any of their predictions also do so supporting.
Again, this role could probably go either way, but the role of the the Baker's Wife, played by Emily Blunt, won the Tony for Lead Actress. Historically the Witch is considered one of the main characters, as she has the most solo songs and is sort of a the prestige role in the musical. Disney has already been quite obvious about giving Meryl top billing status in both the teaser trailer and first poster. This may suggest, like so many times before, that Meryl will be their main horse in regard to awards recognition.
So what do we think? I happen to think it's a luxury to be in the position of being able to choose which category to campaign in, as it increases the chances for a nomination. My guess is that Meryl is in the range of 4th-6th place in the lead category. In supporting, I'd push that to 2nd-3rd. If you're that high up in supporting, and there is no super strong frontrunner (Patricia Arquette looks very solid right now, but possibly peaking early?), anyone can challenge for the win. Do I think Streep will win a supporting and overall fourth Oscar for Into the Woods? No. Have crazier things happened? Most definitely.