Monday, September 29, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions - Best Actress

Post Telluride/Venice/Toronto Predictions
Amy Adams "Big Eyes"
Jessica Chastain "A Most Violent Year"
Julianne Moore "Still Alice"
Meryl Streep "Into the Woods"
Reese Witherspoon "Wild"

Other Contenders - Rosemund Pike "Gone Girl",  Felicity Jones "The Theory of Everything", Emily Blunt "Into the Woods", Hilary Swank "The Homesman", Shailene Woodley "The Fault in Our Stars", Jessica Chastain "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby", Marion Cotillard "Two Days, One Night", Maggie Smith "My Old Lady", Anne Hathaway "Interstellar", Helen Mirren "The Hundred-Foot Journey", Kirsten Dunst "The Two Faces of January", Mia Wasikowska "Tracks", Kristen Wiig "The Skeleton Twins", Emma Stone "Magic in the Moonlight", Gugu Mbatha-Raw "Belle", Jenny Slate "Obvious Child", Angelina Jolie "Maleficent", Juliette Binoche "Clouds of Sils Maria", Nicole Kidman "Queen of the Desert", Shirley MacLaine "Elsa & Fred", Quvenzhane Wallis "Annie"

Commentary - The pundits are right, there is not a tremendous amount of depth in this year's Best Actress race, but damn is it top heavy. I think it is so top heavy that I am leaving out two of the big fall festival breakouts. Rosemund Pike is getting rave reviews for David Fincher's Gone Girl, and could pull a Rooney Mara. Although, Mara didn't have so many titans of acting ahead of her as Pike does. Felicity Jones zoomed to the top of most lists after The Theory of Everything hit the ground running, but I am still not convinced they won't campaign her supporting, and even if they do here (maybe they recognize she has a real shot), whose to say that her co-star Eddie Redmayne doesn't dominate the conversation, and drown out her potential. Honestly though, the real reason that I am leaving both of these actresses out for the moment, is that last year's nominees were proof that the Academy likes what it likes, and last year's field were dominated by veteran Oscar-recognized actresses over some worthy upstarts. So for now I will play it safe, and to all those Jones and Pike fans, have no fear. If some of the buzzed performances fail to make their mark, they are right there to take a slot. There are two early contenders that have already cemented their status as front runners. Reese Witherspoon has not done much since her Oscar win that would be considered award worthy, but she is back with a vengeance in Wild. Jean-Marc Valle led his two stars last year to Oscar wins by adding a lot of heart to the story. It looks like there could be a repeat as apparently Witherspoon (As well as Laura Dern) are said to be fantastic. And then there is the continuing saga of Julianne Moore. She received raves for Maps to the Stars out of Cannes, only to have her Oscar hopes dashed when it was announced there would be no formal Oscar campaign. Then Toronto hit and her other film, Still Alice, quietly premiered without much fanfare leading up to it. And then it suddenly exploded. Moore was raved for her playing of a woman with Alzheimer's disease, and all of the sudden she was not only a contender once again,  but one that went from no hope to her first possible win. It has been an incredible story so far, and I have a feeling it is far from over. Another actress looking for her first overdue Oscar is Amy Adams. The first trailer for Big Eyes looks promising, in terms of her performance, and she is playing a real-life artist Margaret Keane, something we know Oscar voters eat up. Of course no Oscar race would be complete without the great Meryl Streep. She could go supporting (and Emily Blunt could end up here instead), but since Disney has marketed her as the big name on the block, I have a feeling she will go lead. And its Meryl Streep. That is pretty much all the argument you need. Besides Pike and Jones, there are some other contenders on the outside looking in. Hilary Swank, Shailene Woodley, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Shirley MacLaine, Angeline Jolie, Maggie Smith, Quvenzhane Wallis, and Kristen Wiig all are big names with baity projects that should not be forgotten. But in the last slot, I am going with Jessica Chastain. The last time she had four projects in one year, she earned her first Oscar nomination, that time for The Help. She is now a two-time nominee, is literally everywhere, and is clearly respected among actors. I personally think her role in A Most Wanted Man could be another slam dunk for her, and another nomination.

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