|Julianne Moore in Still Alice|
With the Oscar nominations only one week away, now seems like a good time to take into account the various categories and share personal thoughts on what stands a chance and what will likely not make the cut. The following is a rundown of the performers who I feel will most likely make it to the final five in the Best Actress race and who may be considered a potential threat for the category. Let me state that this isn't a prediction of who will win, simply who will get the nomination.
" * " indicates haven't seen
Julianne Moore - Still Alice
As evident with her recent Golden Globe win, she is definitely a lock in this category and is sure to be a dominant force at the Oscars. The most obvious reason is that her performance is tragic and also antithetical to the showy nature that usually goes with the representations of mental illness. The film itself is rather powerful and sadly overlooked as a potential Best Picture candidate at this point. Still, the performance is one that has earned every award it has received and continues to be one of the most talked about and interesting ones of the year.
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
While I have a personal theory on why the Gone Girl train isn't going to be a blowout this year with nominations in a lot of major categories, I do believe that Rosamund Pike more than earns her spot on the list. On top of being one of the best performances of the year, it is also showy in the opposite ways to that of Still Alice. The fact that it is still being talked about and has managed to overshadow Ben Affleck's performance is a testament to the skills of her performance. Also, having been nominated in every other awards show, she is again a lock for this category.
Amy Adams - Big Eyes
While there's argument to be made on if this is really one of the actress's best performances, she has gotten a lot of acclaim and most recently a Golden Globe for her work in Big Eyes. However, she once again comes in a distant place that almost guarantees that she won't win. Still, with the Academy's love for Amy Adams, this seems like a shoe-in and sadly upping her chances to winning up to 1:6, which is the exact same number as Meryl Streep provided that she doesn't receive a nomination this year.
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Never underestimate the soft spot that the Academy has towards biopic nominations. While a lot of the focus is deservedly so on Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones is almost definitely guaranteed some recognition for her thankless role as his wife. She has been racking up nominations and seems sure to get nominated here, if just because the Academy may love The Theory of Everything more than we're giving them credit for. Still, it is a worthwhile entry in one of the only Oscar categories that seems to have almost everyone confidently locked down.
Reese Witherspoon - Wild*
An interesting fact of this category is that the five front runners are all playing characters adapted from source material or based off of real people. Closing out the category is Reese Witherspoon, who has gotten acclaim as this hiker who goes on a journey. True, it does almost seem like James Franco's nomination for 127 Hours and is likely a big reason to suspect why this nomination is happening. However, I do feel like the Academy just likes women who have demanding roles and go on enlightening journeys. Still one that I need to see.
Jennifer Aniston - Cake*
I don't know if I am fortunate to be an outlier who can honestly say that I don't know what Cake is or where it came from. Yes, I am familiar that it has been racking up nominations in a lot of major awards, but the honest question is why should I care? Is it a dramatic performance? Why are all the reviews I have read about it so awful? I likely won't find out unless the odd chance it gets an Oscar nomination happens and forces me to give it a chance. Until then, I still don't get why this is being at all considered.
Jessica Chastain - The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby*
While it is the movie that inspired my Failed Oscar Campaigns column, I do hold a certain belief that this film/s landed in a very strange spot. On top of being Jessica Chastain's third movie in 2014 to have any Oscar consideration (A Most Violent Year, Interstellar), it is one that Harvey Weinstein is really pushing for, but not likely finding any success. True, the concept sounds very interesting and I do plan to watch it when the Him and Her sections are made available, but for now I think this is more the failure on the need to make this into several films, thus making it harder to properly judge her performance for what it was.
Shailene Woodley - The Fault in Our Stars
Cut back to July. It seemed like everyone was harping a potential Oscar nomination for Shailene Woodley. While I personally find the film to be a rather powerful teenage love story, I don't see it doing too much of an upset. Still, having been on a roll the past few years and holding a rather prominent place, it doesn't seem entirely unlikely that it won't happen. She is after all playing a woman with cancer. Sickness has long been an Oscar favorite including Best Picture winner about cancer Terms of Endearment. This is more well wishing than likelihood, but let's see how this plays out.
Marion Cotillard - Two Days One Night
Another great performance that I feel has been underlooked. Despite winning Best Actress for La Vie en Rose back in 2008, she hasn't had too much luck on a follow-up nomination. With a resume that also features the excellent performance in Rust and Bone, she is long overdue for another award, considering her talent and ability to channel emotional complexity with the best of them. This is one of her best to date and much like the film missed out on the Best Foreign Film category, it is likely to be ignored here as well despite being one of the year's best.
Personal Favorites Not Likely to Make It
Tessa Thompson - Dear White People
It is well wishing to think that Dear White People stands any chance at any awards show that doesn't just honor independent cinema. While it may be as racially charged and relevant as Selma, it is too scruffy and edgy to be accepted by the masses. This is largely thanks to the lead performance by Tessa Thompson, whose radical activism and conflicting nature of identity makes her performance one of the best for 2014 and hope that with her role in Selma will help her get more acclaim in the future.
Emma Roberts - Palo Alto
There is some debate on if there's any lead performance in Palo Alto, but Emma Roberts is one of the more prominent figures in the category. With her teenage angst and love affair with James Franco, she gives a great yet complicated look at youthful exploits that is full of heart and humor. The film itself is an underrated gem that unfortunately has been overlooked in a lot of camps. It would be dumb to assume any differently from the Oscars.
Scarlet Johansson - Under the Skin
The film is just too weird to win anything. Also, there's something about performances that require navel gazing and quietness that the Oscars don't like. Add in a lot of cryptic sci-fi elements and it makes sense why the Academy will ignore it. Sure, they should recognize all types of cinema, but this is maybe too abstract and out there for them ever to give the benefit of the doubt, even with a high caliber actress leading the project.