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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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Kate Winslet - "Labor Day"
This is one of the cases where we'd be more confident in the possibility if we knew for sure what category Winslet was going to be in: after all, the six-time nominated actress hasn't had a nod since she won for 'The Reader" in 2009, and playing an agoraphobic character in a team-up with Jason Reitman, who saw Ellen Page and Anna Kendrick to the ceremony, would seem to be a no-brainer. But Winslet's role is a secondary one to the character of her son, which means it could qualify as a Supporting Performance. Given that the same was true of her performance in "The Reader," we think that Paramount may end up campaigning her in lead, but it's very much up in the air this far off. Still, whichever category she ends up in, she's definitely a contender.

Jessica Chastain James McAvoy The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby set pic
Jessica Chastain - "Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: His & Her"
Once touted as the potential winner of Best Actress for "Zero Dark Thirty," Jessica Chastain ultimately was beaten out by Jennifer Lawrence this year. But Chastain, like her comrade, is going to be an Academy fixture for a long time to come, and like Lawrence, hasn't taken her foot off the accelerator, with more roles on the way in 2013. The one we've got our eye on is "The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Her." The twist here, and the potential difficulty with it, is that it's one of two movies (the other being "The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: His") that will premiere simultaneously, detailing the dissolution of a relationship, with James McAvoy playing the other party. The films, directed by newcomer Ned Benson, have attracted an impressive cast including Viola Davis, William Hurt and Isabelle Huppert, and seem to be very much a showcase for the two leads. We're assuming that 'Her' is the more Chastain-centric of the two, but will the two-film structure risk splitting votes between the pair? Or will whoever ends up distributing the film be able to unify voters behind just one? Either way, it's one of the more interesting possibilities of the 2014 Oscar season.

Elizabeth Olsen - "Therese Raquin"
Despite her phenomenal performance, Elizabeth Olsen failed to get an Oscar nomination in 2012 for her head-turning breakthrough in "Martha Marcy May Marlene." The films she signed on to after her initial success are starting to come through the pipeline, and while her performance in "Kill Your Darlings" probably isn't significant enough to factor into the season, there are other possibilities. There's a chance that her role in the "Oldboy" remake might qualify in the Best Actress category, but we'd put more weight on "Therese Raquin." An adaptation of the classic novel by Emile Zola, it's essentially a sort of 19th century film noir, with Olsen as the title character, who has an affair with a friend (Oscar Isaac) of her sickly husband (Tom Felton), before the pair decide to bump off the ailing spouse. It's a killer part (ha), one that should really give Olsen the chance to show her range, and the cast (which also includes Jessica Lange) is strong, but with the film being directed by TV helmer Charlie Stratton, we do wonder how much of an impact it'll make. But if Olsen is as fierce in the role as we imagine she could be, it's not one that should be overlooked.

Decoding Annie Parker
Samantha Morton - "Decoding Annie Parker"
We're thinking of "Decoding Annie Parker" somewhat as this year's equivalent to "The Sessions," in part because it has Helen Hunt in a major role. The feature directorial debut of "Monster" cinematographer Steven Bernstein, it sees Hunt play Mary-Claire King, a geneticist trying to research breast cancer, and Annie Parker, who watched her mother and sister die of the disease, and was diagnosed with it too, aiding King in her research in the process. Hunt might be one to watch as well, but it's really Samantha Morton we've got our eye on here. The actress has two nominations, but hasn't had one since 2004, and has the kind of part that awards voters swoon for here. It might sound like a Lifetime movie on paper, but Morton's likely to class the joint up, so keep an eye on this one as we get deeper into the festival season. 

Zoe Saldana
Zoe Saldana - "Nina"
The "Avatar" star (who arguably deserved a nomination for her motion-capture performance in James Cameron's film) has taken a while to capitalize on her success in that and "Star Trek," but 2013 looks to be a big year for her -- not only is she back for "Star Trek Into Darkness," but she's also got supporting roles in "Blood Ties" and "Out of the Furnace." And we reckon she's got a chance at an Oscar run in another biopic, "Nina," in which Saldana plays the great singer Nina Simone. The independent film and directorial debut of "The Brave One" writer Cynthia Mort, the film is something of an unknown quantity at this point, and it's already been the subject of controversy due to Saldana's casting; she's lighter-skinned than Simone, and has been wearing makeup to split the difference, resulting in outrage from some quarters. Will her near-unrecognizable appearance do her favors, a la Charlize Theron or Nicole Kidman in their Oscar-winning roles? Or will it make the performance a non-starter? We'll see later in the year -- we're betting the film debuts at TIFF. 

Also Worth Considering: There's the possibility that Amy Adams will end up in this category for David O. Russell's latest film, but we think that she's more likely to go supporting again, and the same is probably true of Carey Mulligan in "The Great Gatsby" and "Inside Llewyn Davis," sight unseen. Besides them, there's also Oprah Winfrey in "The Butler," Hilary Swank in "You're Not You," Reese Witherspoon in "Devil's Knot," Julie Delpy in "Before Midnight," Keira Knightley in "Can A Song Save Your Life," Shailene Woodley in "The Spectacular Now," Lindsay Burdge in "A Teacher," Rebecca Hall in "Closed Circuit," Hailee Steinfeld in "Romeo & Juliet," Chloe Moretz in "Carrie," Rooney Mara in "Side Effects," Berenice Bejo in "The Past," Mia Wasikowska in "Tracks" and Saoirse Ronan in "How I Live Now."

And for the record, our precise predictions are...

Sandra Bullock - "Gravity"
Nicole Kidman - "Grace Of Monaco"
Meryl Streep - "August: Osage County"
Emma Thompson - "Saving Mr. Banks"
Naomi Watts - "Diana"

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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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