The races for best actress and best supporting actress are fairly weak this year. There are a few contenders for both but, other than perhaps Cate Blanchett for I’m Not There, there isn’t really anyone that people are rallying behind enough to make their spot seem like a guarantee. This time last year, the five Best Actress candidates were pretty much set; this year there’s still room for movement. Also in contrast to last year, where we saw the year of the grand dame (Mirren, Streep, and Dench), this year the ingénues look prepared to take over the lead category. The Actress contenders:
Amy Adams (Enchanted): She’s currently drawing raves for her winning, charming performance and the fact that she was nominated two years ago for Junebug could help her here. However, she’s also playing a supporting role in Charlie Wilson’s War and if that film takes the Academy by storm, it could result in a supporting actress nomination for her instead.
Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age): I love Blanchett but… that movie was really bad and she spent most of it yelling and looking longingly at Clive Owen. She’ll get a nomination for I’m Not There as supporting actress, but her chances in the leading category are ever slipping.
Julie Christie (Away From Her): It’s a small film, but she’s a legend and a well-respected actress, so I think her chances are pretty good. The fact that the film is already out on DVD could help her gain a larger audience amongst the Academy.
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose): A spectacular performance in a difficult film. She has an uphill battle being that it’s a non-English speaking role, but that shouldn’t be enough to keep her out of the final five.
Jodie Foster (The Brave One): Started strong, then seemed to slip off the radar. A Golden Globe nomination will be necessary to get people thinking about her performance again.
Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart): Another performance that started strong then seemed to slip away. I think her chances are still pretty good, but I wouldn’t put money on.
Keira Knightley (Atonement): If the film comes out strong enough, I think her slot is all but guaranteed.
Laura Linney (The Savages): The Academy seems to like her (and why not?) and she’s getting good reviews so far. Between her, Adams, and Ellen Page, it could be a year dominated by actresses in comedies.
Ellen Page (Juno): Roger Ebert was the first to declare her a contender, and pretty soon others started to fall in line as well. The Academy usually reserves a space for a comedic turn in the Best Actress race, which could easily go to Page. Also in her favour is the fact that the film will enter into wide release at a prime time to keep her on everyone’s mind.
Nicole Kidman also seems to be getting some support for Margot At The Wedding, but she’s just so blah to me that I don’t really have anything to say about that beyond the fact that her face in the previews for the film truly frightens me. Now, as for supporting actress, as mentioned above there’s Adams and Blanchett and… not much else. We might see Susan Sarandon (In The Valley of Elah), Helena Bonham-Carter (Sweeney Todd), Catherine Keener (Into The Wild), Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton), Saorise Ronan or Romala Gari (both for playing the same character at different ages in Atonement).
I’m personally holding out hope for Amy Ryan, who was so great in Gone, Baby, Gone, and I’d be thrilled to see either Emily Mortimer or Patricia Clarkson for Lars and The Real Girl.
There’s a chance that Michelle Pfeiffer might make it for Hairspray, and Sigourney Weaver was buzzed about very early in the year for The TV Set but such talk has pretty much evaporated at this point.
All in all, I’m sad to say that it’s not a very exciting year for the actress races. Tomorrow, a look at the actors.