Monday, November 26, 2012

The Lead Actress Race: November Thoughts

So it’s about that time again that we start examining the Oscar races, and I’m going to start with everyone’s favorite category; Lead Actress.  In a strange twist, this category has been probably the most wide open and difficult to predict all year long.  The contender list is short and the reviews are mixed and the reactions to the performances in contention are varied and the frontrunner is a relative newbie at the ripe old age of 22 in a…COMEDY!!! 
Seriously, this category is bizarre this year.
So, this is the last updates I’ll be making before the season really kicks off.  In just a few weeks we’ll be getting the NYFCA and the NBR and after that the season will be in full swing!  I’ll be making my predictions for those awards soon.  So, with this installment of the updates I’m going to try and dissect the race and its candidates a little better and I’m going to have a running tally at the bottom of the post with any wins and nominations racked up by the actresses and I’ll even post my personal ballot (ATM) since now that we are approaching Oscar season it is getting all the more fun to predict and whine about certain actresses NOT getting the attention they deserve.
So, let’s dive right in.
As we all know, there is really only one lock in this category.  Jennifer Lawrence.  Outside of her inevitable win (well, almost inevitable) there is a wide open race for the last four slots.  In fact, any of the other candidates could miss rather easily.  That’s what makes this race so bizarre and honestly so much run.  When you consider the actual possibilities for those last four slots, the fun factor amps up because they are really so diverse and so seemingly UN-Oscary in tone.  You have an 8-year-old in an indie, you have two French actresses in FRENCH films, you have a bunch of old ladies doing a rom-coms, you have Noami Watts, who is practically anti-Oscar at this point. 
I mean, this race is ridiculous. 
Right now I think we have three actresses on the outside looking in.  You have Helen Mirren, who was quickly snatched up by the world as the pre-ordained runner-up due to the weakness of the field and once it was announced that ‘Hitchcock’ was coming out this year she was placed on nearly every prognosticators ballot as Lawrence’s only real competition.  Well, I left for Europe in the wake of that madness and came home to lackluster reviews and the collective agreement that Mirren would be in fifth place at best at this point.  So, I’m thinking she’ll miss.  Then you have Dench, who has miraculously held onto buzz since early this spring when ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ was released.  She’s a shoo-in for the Comedy Globe nomination and possibly a BAFTA nom, especially now that ‘Skyfall’ has been released to critical praise and her performance within has been singled out, but I don’t have much faith that she’ll be on Oscar’s ballot.  Then there is Meryl Streep.  She was initially written off at year’s beginning because of the nature of the role, but then the reviews for her performance and the weakness of the race caused a lot of people to begin to question her place in the race this year.  She was put on a lot of prediction ballots and was toted as a near lock by some, but the race has started to crowd her out and she’s been all but forgotten in recent months.  She’ll get her Globe nomination, and possibly show up elsewhere, like BFCA or even SAG, but at the end of the day I think she’ll come up short of an Oscar mention.
So that leaves six names to ponder.  Chastain, Cotillard, Lawrence, Riva, Wallis, Watts.  Outside of these six, I don’t see much action happening. 
Smith has faded into nothing but a possible, but unlikely, BAFTA nom and a filler Globe nomination.  Knightley could resurface if her film becomes some sort of freak technical juggernaut and something like the Globes completely embrace the film, but at this point it just looks like she’s yet again going to get the shaft, which is sad because she has more talent than many want to admit.  I'd also LOVE to see Weisz factor in, since she gives my favorite performance of the year so far, but even I know that outside of a critics mention here or there she is DOA. 
Now, all of these six contenders have been seen, minus Chastain who is still a giant questionmark.  Many think she’s going to come out with a bang and be the one to unsettle Lawrence from the winners circle.  I’m not entirely convinced yet, although I think it’s a major possibility that she walks away with a nomination.  The role is apparently baity and she has the buzz and talent to back a campaign, and the buildup surrounding this film is intense (not to mention the look on her face in every still released).
At the current moment, this is how I see the race.
Chastain:  She has the current ‘it’ status that rivals Lawrence, and the goodwill from last year.  Besides, she is one of the only chances the Academy has to invite a returning nominee from last year, and the film is baity.  If the reviews back up the buzz, I see her landing almost everywhere.  I’d say she gets in with BFCA, SAG, Globes and Oscar, missing the BAFTA.
Cotillard:  She has etched out quite a name for herself in Hollywood and has made good on her Oscar.  She is more than due for her second nomination and so I think this year, with this field, she could get it.  She has an incredibly baity role and she is campaigning HARD.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she landed EVERYWHERE.  I’d say, at the moment, she gets in with BFCA, SAG, Globes, BAFTA and Oscar.
Lawrence:  Lawrence is another one that could land everywhere.  She has the buzz and the reviews to back it all up.  She is also in the biggest movie of the year, spearheading a franchise that garnered excellent notices.  She’s in it to win it.  BFCA, SAG, Globes, BAFTA and Oscar are all calling her name.
Riva:  Riva is an interesting case because she is the only one in contention with reviews to rival Lawrence, even dethrone her, and yet she really poses no threat for an actual win and is probably fighting the hardest to get a nomination (despite the fact that she probably won’t fight at all).  That being said, the film has astonishingly good reviews and many have said that if the Academy watches she’ll be undeniable.  I also expect her to be the biggest point getter with the critics, which will work in her favor.  I think she’ll snag a BFCA, BAFTA and Oscar mention, leaving the SAG and Globes to more starry stars.
Wallis:  Wallis is also quite interesting because she is so young and her film is so NOT Oscary and yet the reviews for both are pushing it towards nominations it wouldn’t normally be considered for.  That being said, she’s ineligible for SAG, which could hurt her a little, and her youth is a certain detractor.  She has to have people on her side for a win, and I know she’ll have some (Oprah, Rosie) but will she have enough?  Right now, I’m betting on her snagging a slew of Breakthrough Awards and adding nominations from BFCA and Globes to her resume, but I think it’ll stop there.
Watts:  Watts, with the current surge in her film and the recent announcement of her Desert Palm win, is on the major upswing.  She’s more than overdue for a second nomination (for a win even) and the film is so Oscary it’s ridiculous.  I actually think that next to Lawrence, she’s our surest thing for a nomination and the closest thing to a darkhorse for the win.  I imagine she’ll hit everywhere, BFCA, SAG, Globe, BAFTA and Oscar…and I even thing she’ll win one or two.
So there you have it.  Those are my current thoughts on the race.  Now, of all the contenders mentioned (Chastain, Cotillard, Dench, Knightley, Lawrence, Mirren, Riva, Smith, Streep, Wallis, Watts), I’ve only seen Wallis so my personal ballot will change drastically I’m sure, but for the time being, this is what I’m leaning towards.
This is truly a bizarre year in this particular field.  I’ve seen roughly 35 films and I only have about seven names floating around as potential nominees whereas I have at least twelve in every other category.  I admit, I haven’t seen a lot of female driven films (I’ll be changing that soon with a few films coming up in my Netflix queue) but even at that, there really just hasn’t been a lot of excitement here.  Even Wallis, who makes my personal ballot now, is more a testament to the strength of her director than to her actual acting ability (beautiful performance that was OBVIOUSLY pieced together perfectly).
Emayatzy Corinealdi] Gotham Award

Marion Cotillard] Hollywood Film Award, Gotham Award Honoree
Naomi Watts] Desert Palm Achievement Award
*this running tally is going to stay attached to the bottom of each prediction update.  If you click on the header on the predictions on the right of the site it will bring you to the most recent prediction post on that particular category and you’ll see the most updated tally at the bottom.  If awards are doled out before I actually make an updated page, I will be adding those awards to the most recent page, so you can check back occasionally.  If I’m missing something, let me know and I’ll add it immediately!


  1. I love this idea. Can't wait to see how this season unfolds.

    I think Chastain and Wallis have a better chance of getting in than Watts, but I judged Lincoln by its first trailer, so don't mind me. ;)

    On your personal ballot, I can make out Donzelli, Wallis, and Weisz. Who are the other two?

    1. I agree that Chastain is in a better position at the moment, but I think that Watts may hit more places. Right now, it's kind of all up in the air other than Lawrence.

      Right now my ballot looks like this:

      Valérie Donzelli as 'Juliette' in Declaration of War
      Ariane Labed as 'Marina' in Attenberg
      Nadezhda Markina as 'Elena' in Elena
      Quvenzhané Wallis as 'Hushpuppy' in Beasts of the Southern Wild
      Rachel Weisz as 'Hester Collyer' in The Deep Blue Sea

    2. Nice. Thanks. Need to see Attenberg and Elena then. ;)

      Mine looks like this at the moment:

      Linda Cardellini, Return
      Helen Hunt, The Sessions
      Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect
      Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
      Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea