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Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2014 Best Actress Nominees

by Oliver Lyttelton
February 28, 2013 12:00 PM
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Premature predictions: Best Actress

The recent Oscars, it should be said, were not a headline year for the Best Actress race. Of course Emmanuelle Riva, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence et al were thoroughly deserving of their nominations, but the category was generally deemed to be a bit thin by Oscar watchers, with something of a dearth of good female roles, bar the five that were nominated (plus a handful of others overlooked by the Academy, like Marion Cotillard in "Rust and Bone" and Emayatzy Corinealdi in "Middle of Nowhere").

But looking ahead to the potentials for 2014, as we already have this week with Best Picture and Best Actor, the story's quite different. On paper, anyway, it looks to be a fiercely competitive year, with a number of legendary actresses in parts that seem tailor-made for awards buzz...if our guesswork is correct. While our other long-distance predictions were fairly reasonable a year ago, Best Actress was something of a disaster, with none of our predictions ending up with nominations. But we're certainly more confident of things this time around. To see what we're predicting, take a look below, and you can make your own guesses in the comments section.

Strong Contenders

Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep - "August Osage County"
Meryl Streep, playing a character with cancer, in an adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, produced by George Clooney and Harvey Weinstein? What do you think is going to happen? Of course, the more interesting question is whether her win in 2012 for "The Iron Lady" will have any impact on how much of a contender she'll be, or if voters will want to award fresh blood. Could she tie Katherine Hepburn for four Oscars? Or will the Academy feel that she's had her moment, at least for the next few years?

Sandra Bullock Oscars
Sandra Bullock - "Gravity"
Like Robert Redford in "All Is Lost," which we wrote about yesterday, Sandra Bullock is fighting for survival mostly solo in Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity." In this case, she's an an astronaut stranded when her spacecraft and space station are destroyed. On the page, it's a very different kind of role for Bullock, and given that she has to carry most of the film on her shoulders, it's a part that should get her a lot of attention. The risk is that the effects and spectacle end up overshadowing her, but given that Bullock's a recent winner, and that the part's a good one, this is a definite possibility.

Grace Of Monaco Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman - "Grace Of Monaco"
The Best Actress category luurves biopics; 9 of the last 15 winners have played real-life figures. And there's a trio of possibilities that look incredibly strong. First up, 2003 winner Nicole Kidman, who's playing a great icon of cinema in "Grace of Monaco," in the shape of Hitchcock-favorite turned European princess Grace Kelly. The film sounds a little dry (it apparently revolves around her role in the feud between her husband and French president Charles De Gaulle in the 1960s), but Kidman's a voter favorite, and as Cate Blanchett proved in "The Aviator," playing a great actress can be a quick shortcut to a nomination. Plus, director Olivier Dahan won Marion Cotillard her Oscar for "La Vie En Rose."

Diana Naomi Watts
Naomi Watts - "Diana"
Of course, there's another princess who may not let Kidman walk straight toward the trophy. Naomi Watts is playing Princess Diana in the aptly-titled "Diana," directed by Olivier Hirschbiegel. The film, like "Grace of Monaco," seems to take a more focused approach, dealing not with her semi-arranged marriage to Prince Charles, or its subsequent collapse, but her romance with surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan, and her work campaigning against landmines. We've expressed our doubts about the film already, but only a fool would bet against the power of Watts playing one of the world's most iconic women (and looking so much like her while she does it). Plus, unlike our other tips in this category, she's never won despite two nominations, so may be seen as due in a way that her fellow nominees in the category are not.

Emma Thompson - “Saving Mr. Banks”
She might have two Oscars, but it's getting on twenty years since Emma Thompson was last nominated for an Academy Award. But with her profile increasing again in recent years, the time feels right for a return, and she's got a major role in "Saving Mr. Banks," John Lee Hancock's film about the making of "Mary Poppins." Of the two lead roles in Kelly Marcel's script, Poppins author P.L. Travers is definitely the meatiest; she's amusingly grouchy and tough, with her relationship with her alcoholic father serving as the script's emotional backbone. Meryl Streep turned the part down: but could she grow to regret it come Oscar night? 

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  • Mirko | May 17, 2013 1:45 PMReply

    It's moment an nomination for Emma Thompson in Saving mr Banks. She play P.L. Travers, autor Mary Poppins: great role, great actress.

  • Michael M | March 31, 2013 11:29 PMReply

    And the winner is: Emma Thompson.

    Don't question it.
    Check out my BA,BD,BP predictions if you want engaging.

  • Stevenking | March 28, 2013 8:12 AMReply

    My previous prediction never goes wrong. Here come mine:
    As far as i know about the script, Julia Roberts should be supporting.
    1. Mery Streep- August Osage County (juicy role with good reviews + Oscar's love + legend= a Lock)
    2. Naomi Watts - Diana (She play the most iconic woman of the world.)
    3. Nicole Kidman - Grace of Monaco (Weinstein co. behind + baity role)
    4. Marion Cotillard - Lowlife (Weinstein co. + Previous Winner)
    5. Kate Winslet - Labor Day ( Oscar's love + Previous Winner)

  • Vanessa | March 20, 2013 2:03 PMReply

    Can't see Bullock getting in at all, for me the likeliest as of now, not having watched any of the films, is Meryll and Emma Thompson based on the support I think their movies are gonna get. Between Naomi Watts in Diana and Nicole Kidman in Grace of Monaco, I think the likeliest to get in is Kidman, since she has Weinstein Co. o her back, as for Watts, her movie doesn't seem like one who could get anything other than a nomination for her, and in a year with great competition in the actress field, she will have to be a lot better than she was in The Impossible to be the only nom for her film. Other potential nominees are Jennifer Lawrence, who has a great chance of getting in, , given the source material of the film that's based on a great novel, with academy friendly Susanne Bier's directing, and Lawrence's already proven talent, she will most likely blow everyone away again. I also think we will see a possible spoiler we never know.

    My predictions:
    Mery Streep- August Rush
    Emma Thompson- Saving Mr. Banks
    Jennifer Lawrence- Serena
    Nicole Kidman- Grace of Monaco
    1 potential spoiler

  • Alice | March 4, 2013 11:37 PMReply

    Rooney Mara, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

  • Josh | March 2, 2013 9:17 AMReply

    I don't think Sandra Bullock in Gravity will realize.

    My predictions:

    Marion Cotillard, Lowlife
    Nicole Kidman, Grace of Monaco
    Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
    Naomi Watts, Diana
    Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now

  • Plast | March 1, 2013 7:44 PMReply

    I apologize for the multiple posts. Something went wrong with the submit button.

  • Plast | March 1, 2013 7:42 PMReply

    I've seen a special screening of Devil's Knot, and Reese Witherspoon is not good in it. You better cross her out.

  • Plast | March 1, 2013 7:40 PMReply

    I've seen a special screening of Devil's Knot, and Reese Witherspoon is not good in it. You better cross her out.

  • Plast | March 1, 2013 7:40 PMReply

    I've seen a special screening of Devil's Knot, and Reese Witherspoon is not good in it. You better cross her out.

  • d | March 1, 2013 7:42 PM

    This sounds super trustworthy.

  • Millie | March 1, 2013 3:32 PMReply

    You know guys that there's no way Juli Roberts will go supporting for "August: Osage County"? She's first-billed and has more screentime and impact than Streep in that movie.

  • Merylstone | March 1, 2013 11:05 AMReply

    Well, 2014 Best actresses will be crowded with strong contenders.I bet all Both Princess Biopics will be in, AMPAS has never snubbed any royal family story, So
    1. Meryl Streep -August: Osage County
    2. Nicole Kidman - Grace of Monaco
    3. Naomi Watts - Diana
    4. Kate Winslet - Labor Day / Alt : Sandra Bullock - Gravity
    5. Marion Cotillard - Lowlife
    Well, we know AMPAS are mostly old man with average age >50 and Women playing royal member are always beloved by voters. I can see either princess win if the script not bad.

  • prakshid | March 1, 2013 2:22 AMReply

    Best Motion Picture
    “August Osage County”
    “The Counselor”
    “Dallas Buyer’s Club”
    “Labor Day”
    “Monuments Men”
    “Saving Mr. Banks”
    “Twelve Years a Slave”
    “Untitled David O Russell ABSCAM Project “- American Bullshit
    “The Wolf Of Wall Street”

    Best Director
    Martin Scorsese – “The Wolf Of Wall Street”
    Ridley Scott – The Counselor
    Jason Reitman – Labor Day
    Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
    George Clooney – The Monuments Men

    Best Actor In A Leading Role
    Tom Hanks – “Saving Mr. Banks”
    Leonardo Di Caprio – “The Wolf Of Wall Street”
    Matthew McConaughey – “Dallas Buyers Club”
    Christian Bale – “Untitled David O. Russell Project”
    Steve Carell – “Foxcatcher”

    Best Actress In A Leading Role
    Kate Winslet – Labor Day
    Naomi Watts – Diana
    Nicole Kidman – Grace Of Monaco
    Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
    Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks

  • Sean | March 1, 2013 12:10 AMReply

    I think Lowlife is a force not to be reckon with.
    It seems as though it's going to be like King's Speech, in that it's a period piece, and it's main draw is the superb cast. Only it's a bit more serious and real.
    Also here's to hoping Gray at least gets a Best Screenplay nom.

  • LD | February 28, 2013 5:53 PMReply

    This year is looking to be one of the strongest in Best Actress contenders. My prediction would be: Judi Dench for ''Philomena'', Nicole Kidman for ''Grace of Monaco'', Meryl Streep for ''August: Osage County'', Naomi Watts for ''Diana'' and Kate Winslet for ''Labor Day''. Emma Thompson, Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Lawrence could make it in. Maybe finally Judi Dench will win her long-deserved Best Actress Oscar, after being robbed in 1997 for ''Mrs. Brown''.

  • Jimbo | February 28, 2013 4:34 PMReply

    I wage you now, Meryl won't win for August: Osage County. It's just not that kind of part. I suspect she'll get a nom (in my eyes, Best Supporting) but it's a part that makes you laugh more than gawp at the portrayal of debilitation through disease. The cancer aspect is fairly downplayed. She has some of the best (and funniest) lines in the play, but is strictly second fiddle to her daughter (played in the movie by Julia Roberts). For me, Roberts isn't dowdy and growly and feisty enough for the part, but we'll see. Fingers crossed.

  • M | February 28, 2013 3:31 PMReply

    Put Chastain in Best Actress nominees each year, and you won't be wrong. She is exceptional.

  • John | February 28, 2013 3:19 PMReply

    Chastain is going 3 for 3 with a nomination in Eleanor Rigby, no doubt about it. In a year where there seems to be a lot of heavyweight competition in the Actress category, I suspect Streep will sit this one out--she really only appears (and wins, i.e. Iron Lady) in weak years. This year is far from weak. I also don't think Thompson and Kidman will show up, both are past their prime and aren't taking on great roles. Grace of Monaco is going to FLOP.

    Watts should be in because the Academy still hasn't given her the award she deserved for 21 Grams.

  • jack | February 28, 2013 2:46 PMReply

    Berenice Bejo- The Past

  • Liam | February 28, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    Everytime a real author/director took a woman as lead, she won the Oscar. (Hilary Swank in Million Dollars Baby, Nat.Portman in Black Swan...) I think people people are sick of biopics.
    I bet on Streep, of course. But I mostly bet on Cotillard + James Gray, that's a freaking big thing.

  • milo | February 28, 2013 5:31 PM

    good point, I'm soo tired of biopics. James GRAY wrote the role especially for Cotillard

  • Shanon | February 28, 2013 1:43 PMReply

    If Jodie Foster could not get an Oscar nom for Contact, there's no way Bullock can for Gravity.

  • 435 | February 28, 2013 2:48 PM


  • Zack | February 28, 2013 1:05 PMReply

    I love both Zoe Saldana and Nina Simone, but "Nina" is starting to seem like a cross between "J. Edgar" and Jenna Maroney's Jackie Jormp-Jomp biopic.

  • emma | February 28, 2013 1:02 PMReply

    Marion Cotillard for sure, she missed this year but Harvey has picked Lowlife and we have to wait until Cannes. I'm very sceptical for Naomi Watts and Kidman. Olivier DAHAN last movies were terrible.

  • brace | February 28, 2013 12:54 PMReply

    Streep, biopics, period dramas - boring. unlike Best Actor predictions from yesterday, I hope you're wrong here (great actresses but boring Oscar-bait roles in movies that will certainly turn out to be mediocre). hopefully unexpected contenders will appear (like Emmanuelle Riva this year)

  • Sara | February 28, 2013 12:49 PMReply

    How about Paulina Garcia, she just won the prize of best actress in Berlin and this film(Glória) received very good reviews

  • Tobi | February 28, 2013 12:34 PMReply

    Your predictions for Best Actress seem way more exciting and a much 'star-studded' affair then the Best Actor predictions. Four of these five all former winners, and they've all been nominated before. Very much looking forward to a number of these performances, especially those of Chastain and Olsen.

  • jamie | February 28, 2013 12:30 PMReply

    You forgot one of the most important things regarding Grace of Monaco: Harvey.

    Outside of August: Osage County, I could really see that being one of his main horses. I mean, it's Nicole freaking Kidman playing Grace freaking Kelly and it appears to be the perfect storm: Royalty porn, with a little Hollywood mixed in (I've heard that a subplot involves Kelly's eagerness to return to Hollywood around the time Hitchcock offered her Marnie) plus the combination of actress and role. And Harvey Weinstein.

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