So, I caved and decided to work up another one today. Lead Actress is a fun one, especially since everyone gets all crazy about it so far in advanced. This year looks a little sparse, to be honest. I mean, last year seemed so bountiful right out the gate, but I’m struggling to narrow down my list and quite honestly, I could see any one of these failing for a slew of reasons. Last year I went 4/5 in my April Predictions (predicting Streep/Close/Mara/Williams) so I would love to say that I could repeat that success, but even I know that I’ll be lucky if I get 2/5 with this set.
But I couldn’t help myself.
1) Helen Hunt/The Surrogate
2) Keira Knightley/Anna Karenina
3) Marion Cotillard/Low Life
4) Mary Elizabeth Winstead/Smashed
5) Scarlett Johansson/Under the Skin
6) Nicole Kidman/My Wild Life
7) Quvenzhane Wallis/Beasts of the Southern Wild
8) Sandra Bullock/Gravity
9) Viola Davis/Won’t Back Down
10) Carey Mulligan/The Great Gatsby
Hunt is receiving great ink off her Sundance turn, and if she can sustain that buzz then she should have an easy nomination. If doesn’t hurt that she is a previous winner and her win was 15 years ago. I think the Academy would love to welcome her back. She also has a great role and she could be perceived as part of a ‘team’ with Hawkes, which could bode very well for both of them. Granted, it is a small movie, and who knows what kind of push it will get, but early word is really good right now so you never know.
Knightley is going to be starring in a REALLY big movie. I have the utmost faith in Wright, since he is a real talent, and he knows how to direct Keira to greatness, so this could be her shining moment. She has only grown as an actress since her first nomination back in 2005, and she’s been on the cuff of a nomination a few times since then (most notably in 2007) so this could be her second nom and possibly even her win. She is young and pretty and fits the mold well for Oscar’s preferred winners circle (a tad young, but if the role is right…and this one is, then she could get gold). Many balk that this is her wheelhouse, but this is also legendary material here, so if she nails it I doubt critics will mind. Cotillard is fresh off a win, and like Knightley she has only grown and probably been close a few times since (most notably in 2009). She’s a great actress, and this is a baity character! She looks great in the set pics, and James Gray is ripe for Oscar recognition.
Speaking of directors who work well with actors who are ripe for Oscar recognition, let’s talk about Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin. Ok, so I understand that an alien who feeds off of men she picks up isn’t really Oscary on the outset, but if you’ve seen Birth then you know the kind of atmosphere Jonathan Glazer creates. If anyone can make that premise feel grounded and distilled in all the right places, it is him. I know this is a total wild card type prediction; filled to the brim with wishful thinking, but it’s about damn time Scarlett Johansson gets an Oscar nomination! Mary Elizabeth Winstead has also received good early word and she fits that bill of relative unknown making a splash in an independent film.
I’m awaiting more word on Kidman’s film, but I’m leaving her at #6 for now. Mulligan is a possibility, since she is respected, young, and in what may be a very high profile film; but the role is not a great one as far as awards are concerned, and she could very easily become forgotten to the more meatier supporting roles. I think far too much stock is placed in Wallis’s chances at this point. She is YOUNG, TOO YOUNG, but if she becomes a sensation due to being a revelation than it could happen. Besides, who else is there at this point to speculate about?