Jennifer Jason Leigh "The Hateful Eight"
Diane Ladd "Joy"
Rooney Mara "Carol"
Ellen Page "Freeheld"
Amy Ryan "Bridge of Spies"
Other Contenders - Virginia Madsen "Joy", Jessica Chastain "The Martian", Helena Bonham Carter "Suffragette", Meryl Streep "Suffragette", Julia Roberts "Secret in Their Eyes", Kate Winslet "Steve Jobs", Elizabeth Olsen "I Saw the Light", Isabella Rosellini "Joy" Ann Dowd "Our Brand is Crisis", Julie Walters "Brooklyn", Sarah Paulson "Carol", Laura Linney "Genius", Nicole Kidman "Genius", Shailene Woodley "Snowden", Melissa Leo "Snowden", Joan Allen "Room", Elizabeth Banks "Love & Mercy", Phyllis Smith "Inside Out", Kristen Stewart "Clouds of Sils Maria", Julia Roberts "Money Monster", Rose Byrne "Spy", Judi Dench "Tulip Fever", Toni Collette "Miss You Already", Kirsten Dunst "Midnight Special", Katherine Waterston "Steve Jobs", Keira Knightley "Everest", Jane Fonda "Youth", Melanie Laurent "By the Sea", Dakota Johnson "A Bigger Splash", Gugu Mbatha-Raw "Concussion", Rachel Weisz "Youth", Parker Posey "Irrational Man", Cate Blanchett "Cinderella", Scarlett Johannson "Avengers: Age of Ultron", Maggie Smith "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
Commentary - Margot at the Wedding turned out to be a bust, but it did prove that Jennifer Jason Leigh was not a one-hit wonder or a washed up actress. The Hateful Eight looks to be yet another Tarantino classic, and she could easily be a standout among the mostly male cast. Plus, honestly, does Tarantino not seem like the perfect style for her? Rooney Mara could go lead with Cate Blanchett, and honestly, both could still get again, according to early reviews out of Cannes. But Harvey is not stupid, and he will work very hard to maximize the awards potential out of the film. I think that Blanchett will stay in lead, building on here recent win and veteran status, and Mara will move down to supporting, to ensure both get nominations. And if those same reviews are any indication, she could win here first Oscar. The last three slots are real shots in the dark. The first trailer for Freeheld looks promising, but mostly because of the performances. Ellen Page, particularly Julianne Moore, and maybe even Steve Carell and Michael Shannon could capitalize on a film that looks like Oscar bait, particularly for the actors. So Page gets in. Joy is one to watch for, and while we don't know enough about the supporting cast, history suggests that Isabella Rosellini, Virgnia Madsen and Diane Ladd are all potential contenders (remember when Jacki Weaver got in for little screen time for Silver Linings Playbook, actors love David O. Russell). Of the bunch, I have switched from Madsen to Ladd, with Madsen just on the outside. Ladd seems like one of those veteran performers that has been overlooked too many times. She has three nominations to date, and while there is no indication either way, my gut tells me she is one to watch. Finally, Bridge of Spies is a big, bold, Cold War-era historical epic from the great Steven Spielberg. The trailer looks mostly like the Tom Hanks show, but Amy Ryan could be a standout, and she is consistently good, and a well-liked veteran. Beyond those five, and Madsen, there is Jessica Chastain in The Martian, which I really hope is good. Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham Carter in Suffragette could be fantastic, Julia Roberts has two great roles this year, Kate Winslet with an Aaron Sorkin script, breakout star Elizabeth Olsen, the genius duo, the great Sarah Paulson, Ann Down, Julie Walters, Joan Allen, Katherine Waterston, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, the Youth duo, the Snowden duo, Toni Collette, Kristen Stewart's Cesar winning role, and, if there is any sanity left in this world, the voice work of Phyllis Smith in Inside Out are all on the radar in the early stages of the race.