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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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Serena Jennifer Lawrence Bradley Cooper
Jennifer Lawrence - "Serena"
The "Silver Linings Playbook" star might still be blowing the engraving dust off her Oscar, but she's hardly letting up; 2013 sees another "Hunger Games" coming, a reunion with David O. Russell (in a smaller role, this time), and most importantly for our purposes, "Serena." Reteaming her with Bradley Cooper, this time for director Susanne Bier, it's a definite change of pace; a period drama about a couple trying to make their lumber fortune in Appalachia in the 1920s. And Lawrence has a killer role, landing somewhere between Lady Macbeth and Daniel Plainview. Had Lawrence not won this weekend, we feel like she'd be a virtual lock -- as it is, voters may feel that a third nomination in four years could be too much, especially if the film doesn't work. But if Bier can pull it off, Lawrence could well be at the Dolby Theater again, and may even trip her way up to the podium for the second year in a row.

Jeremy Renner Marion Cotillard Low Life
Marion Cotillard - "Lowlife"
Many believed that Marion Cotillard should have picked up another nomination this year for "Rust & Bone" -- the actress was certainly in the running, and probably only just missed out on the final five. But she'll get another shot, teaming up with James Gray for "Lowlife," in which she plays an immigrant forced into prostitution before falling in love with a magician (Jeremy Renner). As we said yesterday, Gray's never been an Oscar favorite, but with a period piece and three awards favorites in the cast (Joaquin Phoenix also features), that could change this year, not least with Cotillard who has the lead role and whose character seems to undergo the kind of suffering that Academy voters eat up. We still wonder if "Lowlife" is likely to be this year's equivalent to "The Master" (a critical favorite, but less so with the Academy), but given that "The Master" still picked up three Oscar nods for its actors, Cotillard's very much in the running.

Felicity Jones The Invisible Woman
Felicity Jones - "The Invisible Woman"
The subject of light Oscar speculation for "Like Crazy" two years back, which never came to pass, Felicity Jones hasn't rushed into big roles, with most of her subsequent films ("Hysteria," "Cheerful Weather For The Wedding") flying somewhat under the radar (though she has just nabbed a part in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"). But that could change with "The Invisible Woman," the second directorial feature from Ralph Fiennes, which sees the actor/filmmaker also play Charles Dickens. But as the title might suggest, it's Jones who'll be front and center, playing Nelly Ternan, a young actress who became Dickens' mistress. Jones is undeniably talented, and with a script from "The Iron Lady" writer Abi Morgan, this should be taken very seriously, even if period pieces of late haven't been the home runs in this category that they once were.

Philomena Lee Judi Dench Steve Coogan Stephen Frears
Judi Dench - "Philomena"
Yes, we know you haven't heard of this film, which marks one of the few times that Judi Dench could ever be described as an Oscar wild card. But when you look at it on paper, it's certainly a film worth considering here. The Oscar winner (who had buzz last year for "Skyfall" and "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," but hasn't had a nomination since "Notes On A Scandal" in 2007) plays the titular Philomena Lee who, as a pregnant teenager in Ireland, was forced by nuns to sell her illegitimate baby to a couple in Missouri. Years later, aided by journalist, civil servant and "The Thick Of It" adviser Martin Sixsmith (who wrote the source material, "The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee"), she set out in search of her child. While it's directed by Stephen Frears, who's been off his game of late, one shouldn't forget that the filmmaker was also behind Helen Mirren's victory for "The Queen." And a script co-written by Steve Coogan (who also plays Sixsmith in the film) could mean that this picture is sharper than its premise suggests. "Philomena" is likely to mostly be under the radar for a while, but it's a definite dark horse. If a big distributor picks it up, this film could gallop ahead.

Untitled Woody Allen
Cate Blanchett - "Blue Jasmine"
We're not all that convinced that Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" will be a big Oscar player -- despite the success of "Midnight In Paris" at the 2012 ceremony, we tend to take a wait-and-see approach on the prolifically inconsistent filmmaker's new output. But we're definitely keeping an eye on the film, if only because it features Cate Blanchett in the lead role. The Australian actress is a five-time nominee but hasn't had a nomination since 2008, so is certainly overdue for a return, and if anyone can bring something fresh to an Allen protagonist (in this case, a wealthy Bay Area woman who faces financial difficulties), it's her. We're also intrigued about the film for another reason, in that Blanchett's casting feels to us like it could signify a return to the director's more Bergman-influenced work. But then, Louis CK and Andrew Dice Clay are among the supporting cast, so we're probably wrong on that front.

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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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