Cate Blanchett "Carol"
Jennifer Lawrence "Joy"
Julianne Moore "Freeheld"
Meryl Streep "Ricki and the Flash"
Lily Tomlin "Grandma"
Other Contenders - Rooney Mara "Carol", Sandra Bullock "Our Brand is Crisis", Carey Mulligan "Suffragette", Marion Cotillard "Macbeth", Brie Larson "Room", Alicia Vikander "The Danish Girl", Alicia Vikander "The Light Between Oceans", Alicia Vikander "Ex Machina", Alicia Vikander "Tulip Fever", Angelina Jolie "By the Sea", Emily Blunt "Sicario", Charlize Theron "Mad Max: Fury Road", Amy Schumer "Trainwreck", Melissa McCarthy "Spy", Juliette Binoche "Clouds of Sils Maria", Gugu Mbatha-Raw "The Whole Truth", Bel Powley "The Diary of a Teenage Girl", Maggie Smith "My Old Lady", Judi Dench "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", Sally Field "Hello, My Name is Doris", Tilda Swinton "A Bigger Splash", Greta Gerwig "Mistress America", Glenn Close "Duchess", Mia Wasikowska "Crimson Peak", Charlotte Rampling "45 Years", Carey Mulligan "Far From the Maddening Crowd", Kristen Wiig "Welcome to Me", Anna Kendrick "Pitch Perfect 2", Viola Davis "Lila & Eve", Jennifer Lopez "Lila & Eve", Margot Robbie "Z for Zachariah", Drew Barrymore "Miss You Already", Emma Watson "Regression"
Commentary - So, is it really possible that the last three winners of this category all come back with a potential to win again? The answer is yes, starting of course with Cate Blanchett, who is definitely in this race after Carol landed so well at Cannes. Rooney Mara is still lurking here, as category placement is not quite settled, but most folks agree she will go supporting to maximize their nomination total. Then there is Jennifer Lawrence, who is once again teaming up with David O. Russell. Unlike Silver Linings Playbook, she truly is the star of the show here, and from the trailer, it looks like another knock-out performance. Last, but certainly not least, a new trailer was released for Freeheld, and while the whole cast looks fantastic, it is Julianne Moore that immediately grabs your attention. I don't know if she can win back to back Oscars, she won't have the same overdue narrative she had last year, but I would not be surprised if she got back into the top five. The last two slots I am reserving for two veterans. The first, of course, is Meryl Streep. Ricki and the Flash has a great cast and writer/director, yet the previews look a lot like fluff. I am hoping that the final product will have a bit more bite, and either way, I think Streep cannot and will not be discounted in this race. Finally, I have switched out Sandra Bullock for the moment (who is very much a possibility) for a veteran who is having a banner year so far. Lily Tomlin received an Emmy last September, a Kennedy Center Honor in December, and is nominated yet again for her role in Grace and Frankie. Grandma has already gotten a ton of buzz, and apparently Tomlin is fantastic. If they thought Julianne Moore was overdue for recognition (she was), then Tomlin is even more so, and this could be a winning role for the veteran comedienne. Beyond those five (and Bullock and Mara), there is a nominee last year, Marion Cotillard as Lady MacBeth, Brie Larson for Room, Alicia Vikander in about five roles, and Carey Mulligan in two. Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron both have received rave reviews for their action-packed projects, although genre bias could leave them out of the conversation completely. Throw Melissa McCarthy into the same boat for Spy, simply because comedies don't usually do well. Juliette Binoche, Sally Field, Tilda Swinton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Charlotte Rampling, Drew Barrymore, Angelina Jolie, Viola Davis, Emma Watson, and the new "it" girl who just scored a bunch of Emmy nominations, Amy Schumer, are also strong possibilities.