Academy Award Nomination Predictions: Best Actress

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Nominations for the 87th Academy Awards are going to be announced this week, so I am going to give my predictions for the top categories.

Best Actress, in the past, has not always been the strongest race, as there are times when the Best Actor category can have 10 – 15 incredibly strong contenders, whereas the Best Actress race has at times had a maximum of 10 relatively strong ladies trying for the nomination. This year has admittedly not been the best for leading actresses, but the contenders we do have are relatively strong candidates.

Here are the contenders:

LOCKS

Julianne Moore as Dr. Alice Howland in Still Alice
When thinking about Julianne Moore, it still surprises me that she can be considered one of the finest actresses in cinema history, but still not yet have an Academy Award on her mantle, despite giving some amazing performances that were wholeheartedly deserving. In Still Alice, Moore plays Alice Howland, a college professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. It is of course a role any actress would love to play, and despite the film being criticized for its amateurish production, Moore has been praised across the board, and there is no doubt she will be winning the Academy Award next month. She is certainly very safe for a nomination, and completely locked in.

SAFE

Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed in Wild
Since 2005, when she won, Reese Witherspoon has continued working, but up until now didn’t really do anything that could be considered worthy enough for her to return to the Oscar stage. In Wild, Witherspoon plays real-life inspiration, Cheryl Strayed, who hiked 1100 miles for no other reason than for redemption. The film is directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, who last year directed Dallas Buyers Club, which reached amazing success when both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto swept the awards race. Wild may not have so much success when it comes to awards, but Reese Witherspoon is very safe for a nomination.

Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde in The Theory of Everything
The very definition of a coattail nomination – Felicity Jones’ good performance as Jane Wilde has allowed her to ride the success of her co-star Eddie Redmayne this season and get in at all the major awards shows. The strength of her performance, along with steady campaigning and of course Redmayne’s performance makes sure both of them are invited to all the awards shows. She could very well be snubbed, but I am not entirely convinced that she will be.

Rosamund Pike as Amy Elliot-Dunne in Gone Girl
Early on in the season, I predicted Rosamund Pike would win Best Actress. Her performance as the psychotic Amy in Gone Girl was absolutely stellar. This was of course before Julianne Moore was in contention with Still Alice. Pike has gone from being quite possibly a contender for the win to sadly, a filler nominee. If one of the other ladies in the lower tier are liked more, then Rosamund could obviously be snubbed. I think she’s the most vulnerable, and while I love her performance, I could see it being one of the most shocking snubs on nomination morning.

POSSIBLE

Marion Cotillard as Sandra in Two Days, One Night
Since her win in 2008, Marion Cotillard has yet to return to the Oscars, despite giving at least half a dozen amazing performances in previous years. Why she has not been invited back is a mystery to me, but if there was any time for her to be nominated, it is now for her performance in Two Days, One Night – there are no fancy gimmicks or tricks to her performance. It is a simple, human performance by a truly talented actress. Her snubs across the board do hurt, but she is a huge critical favorite for her performance, and perhaps her several critics wins give her a boost to a nomination.

Jennifer Aniston as Claire Simmons in Cake
This nomination would be purely because of Aniston’s rabid campaigning. She came out of nowhere with her dramatic performance in Cake, and despite detractors, got in at SAG and at the Golden Globes. The film has received middling reviews, and once again, Aniston is certainly in the realm of possibility, but only because of her large amount of campaigning that borders on excessive, and not entirely on her performance (because if that did matter, then Marion Cotillard would be in it to win it).

Amy Adams as Margaret Keane in Big Eyes
Amy Adams is an Oscar darling. Five previous nominations in less than a decade. This would be her sixth nomination, and despite the film getting good, but not spectacular, reviews and the subject matter and tone of the film being relatively lightweight, she could still very much happen. It will be her sixth nomination in nine years, and she would achieve something Glenn Close took 29 years to do – garner six nominations without a win. Amy Adams will win her Oscar very soon, but for now she is flirting with a nomination, and I do see it happening, even if she is battling four or five other women for the slot

Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods
In Into the Woods, Emily Blunt and James Corden were the best performers in the cast. However, none of them were worthy of awards. Blunt was very good, but nothing about her performance was notable other than it being entertaining. Her nomination here can only come if Into the Woods over-performs, which I really doubt it will. However, nothing is impossible, and Blunt wouldn’t be a bad nominee.

NO GUTS, NO GLORY

Almost every year we get a nominee that comes out of nowhere and gets nominated, but very rarely in the leading categories, although it is possible and has been proven before, especially when there is a shocking snub. It takes quite a bit of proverbial guts to make this prediction, as you need to analyze all the strongest contenders and choose which one to remove or replace. Then its time to pick your surprise nominee. It is complicated and risky, but it can be proven right in the end. Therefore, my Best Actress No Guts No Glory prediction is…

Hilary Swank as Mary Bee Cuddy in The Homesman
Since her second Best Actress win ten years ago, Swank hasn’t returned to the Oscars, despite some great performances. A very talented actress, it is surprising that she wouldn’t receive any more attention, especially after double wins. The Homesman was her latest attempt at a great performance, and while she did receive some smaller nominations for her performance, she sadly hasn’t received anything big. I really doubt her nomination for this, but if there was to be a huge surprise, it could definitely be Swank. But don’t count on it.

There we have it – a pretty cut-and-dry category. Moore, Jones, Pike and Witherspoon are locked in, and anyone else could get the fifth slot. I think it will be Aniston or Adams, even though Cotillard deserves it. But this is Moore’s year, so we won’t have five nominees – we will have Julianne Moore and four people who lose to Julianne Moore, so who those five people are don’t entirely matter, no matter how good they are.

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