A couple months ago, this one seemed to be all but over. Jennifer Lawrence is a superstar, and it appeared that there was no one who could touch her. Now, after the rise of Jessica Chastain and a late push for the sublime Emmanuelle Riva, we have a tough three-actress race. Check out the breakdown below…
5. Naomi Watts – The Impossible
Notable awards: none
Notable nominations: BFCA, Golden Globes, SAG
Case for the Oscar: She was in a movie that had everything going for it, but the controversy surrounding her story restricted its box office. It is ridiculous that this is only her second nomination, but she will have to continue to wait for her day. The nomination is her reward.
Oscar Doppelganger: 2010 Best Actress: Nicole Kidman. The film was not the biggest hit, but the performance was a powerhouse that secured an easy nomination. She was popular worldwide, yet she missed out on nominations on several occasions. She stood very little chance at winning, not just because of the tough subject matter, but because of the incredible performances ahead of her in much more warmly-received films.
Odds of winning: 200/1
4. Quvenzhane Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
Notable awards: none
Notable nominations: BFCA, Spirit Awards
Case for the Oscar: She was ineligible for the SAG, so we do not quite know what her support actually looks like. The film clearly has its following, so if there is an award in its future, why not this one? She is going to need to tackle some huge contenders (including one some 80 years her senior), but I wouldn’t put it past the Academy. It has very little chance of happening, but a three-way vote split would not exactly be unheard of, resulting in those big Beasts fans creating quite a stir in this race. Too bad we don’t get to see the final voting results…
Oscar Doppelganger: Gabourey Sidibe – Precious. In her first career performance, she absolutely blew away every audience member that sought out her film. The indie film vastly overachieved in terms of nominations,which expressed the deep-seeded love for the film overall. She gave one of the more impressive debuts we have seen in a long time, but her chances of actually winning were slim due to the other contenders.
Odds of winning: 75/1
3. Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
Notable awards: BAFTA, Boston Critics, Los Angeles Critics (tie), National Society of Film Critics
Notable nominations: BFCA
Case for the Oscar: The older voters will remember her early work in Hiroshima, mon amour. This is her first nomination, and the Oscar ceremony will be on her 86th birthday (she was born in 1927, the year the first Oscar winner was released). The film has all of the important nominations in the major categories. Oh, and she may have given the best performance of the bunch. The theatrical release has expanded in the past couple weeks, ensuring that her heartbreaking performance is fresh on the Academy members’ minds when voting ends. She is up against two juggernauts, but honestly, their careers basically just started a couple years ago. This is the only time they will ever get to reward this actress.
Oscar Doppelganger: Best Actor 1999: Richard Farnsworth. He was one of those faces that audiences may recognize, but not really know what from. He had the cool story of making an appearance in Gone with the Wind exactly 60 years before the ceremony. His performance was endearing and heartfelt, and that certainly struck a chord with the Academy members, even though the film was not exactly widely-seen.
Odds of winning: 3/1
2. Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
Notable awards: BFCA, Chicago Critics, Golden Globes (Drama), National Board of Review
Notable nominations: BAFTA, SAG
Case for the Oscar: She is in a film that, perhaps for the wrong reasons, has been in the spotlight since its inception. If the Academy wants to award the movie, it will and should be for this performance. Her rise to stardom has been as sudden as any that I have ever seen, and she deserves to win. She won the important Critics Choice award, as well as getting the most important precursor mentions. She completely steps out of her comfort zone with this film, playing about as polar opposite from her role in The Help as possible. It may not exactly be a typical winner, but getting some comparisons to Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs says something.
Oscar Doppelganger: 2005 Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon. She won all of the important precursors, yet had the odd case of almost never really competing against the other major contender, due to the fact that it was an indie and in the opposite Golden Globe category. It was not a normal Oscar winner and the film was underwhelming in terms of nominations, but she rode her popularity all the way to the Oscar.
Odds of winning: 9/4
1. Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
Notable awards: Golden Globes (Comedy/Musical), Los Angeles Critics (tie), Satellite Award, SAG
Notable nominations: BAFTA, BFCA, Spirit Awards (will win)
Case for the Oscar: She has the backing of the Weinsteins. Her film continues to place among the top of the box office week after week leading up to the Oscar ballots being due. She was hilarious when she hosted “Saturday Night Live”, and each one of her acceptance speeches has been genuine, something rare for someone so new to the ceremonies. Her performance is one that wins Oscars, and the only thing that may be going against her is that she is only 22, so she has many years ahead of her before she even hits her prime. They may want to make her wait, giving the award to one of the two contenders who have been at it for several years. She is the favorite, but it is by no means a secure favorite. Her SAG win was important, and her film getting 4 acting noms is telling. Doubt going 0 for 4 was a joke, and the Academy will not want to do that again.
Oscar Doppelganger: 2011 Best Actor: Jean Dujardin. He had the advantage of not competing against the other contender for the majority of the season. He had the Weinstein backing. His film was all over the major awards, vastly overachieving given its small budget and ambition. He was the favorite going into the ceremony, but by no means an overwhelming one. He was a relative newcomer, yet his performance was just so impressive that the Academy just could not resist (or say “no” to Harvey).
Odds of winning: EVEN
Thoughts? Comments? Coming up: BEST ACTOR!