Friday, January 4, 2013

Oscar Predictions: Best Actress in a Leading Role

This year, Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 10th. I’ll be offering detailed predictions in most of the major categories, saving some of the biggest categories for last.

Last year’s nominees: Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams

This year’s locks: Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain

Very likely: Marion Cotillard

Possible: Emmanuelle Riva, Quvenzhané Wallis, Naomi Watts, Helen Mirren

Unlikely: Rachel Weisz

The rundown: The two sure things in this race who will vie for the trophy are past nominees Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty). 2007 winner Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone) should be back for her heartfelt performance too, though getting nominated twice for foreign performances is tough. As for my final two choices, there’s a statistic that’s been bothering me. It’s happened several times before that two actresses without Golden Globe or SAG precursors got nominated for the Oscar, but I couldn’t remember a time that two contenders in any one category were nominated for both a Globe and a SAG and were then snubbed for the Oscar. Research revealed only one half-true case, in 2001 when Cameron Diaz was up for “Vanilla Sky” with both organizations and Cate Blanchett earning a lead comedy Globe nod and a supporting SAG nod for “Bandits.” What that means is that both Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), who is nine years old, and Emanuelle Riva (Amour), who is eighty-five, would have to displace Naomi Watts (The Impossible) and Helen Mirren (Hitchock), both of whom are past nominees. That said, Wallis and Riva should get boosts from their films, which are expected to do well with Oscar voters despite somewhat spottier precursor attention. I’m still surprised that “The Impossible” earned Watts so many accolades thus far since it’s much more about the devastating visuals than anything else, and Mirren has given so many better performances in the past compared with her lackluster turn in the disappointing “Hitchcock.” Then there’s New York Film Critics Circle winner and Golden Globe nominee Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea), who might garner votes for her strong turn in a very boring film. This category is highly competitive, and I’m hopeful that it yields positive results.

One possible crazy scenario: One of the above contenders gets snubbed in favor of a veteran performer in a light-hearted role, either Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) or Maggie Smith (Quartet).

Forecasted winner: The competition should be between Lawrence and Chastain. I give the edge to the latter since I think her film will be triumphant on Oscar night.

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