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First Best Actress Predictions of the New Oscar Year

"Are you actress psychic?" It's a question I've often asked in conjunction with prediction contests. I'm still working out details as to what we'll do for an Oscar contest this year but in the meantime I knew I had to wrap up my April Foolish predictions in April which ends... right about now.

To answer my own question I am somewhat Actress Psychic -- as long time readers know -- since my prediction ratio is pretty good early on before we've seen any films. This year I think I dropped the ball, the crystal one that is, not the "ohmygodthis postissoooolate" ball though that one as well. So many potentially interesting leading actress roles and so little in the way of sure things.

Maggie Smith in Quartet (1981) and Maggie Smith in Quartet (2012)

But let's pause for a moment to appreciate the beautiful coincidence should Maggie Smith be nominated as an opera diva in Quartet (2012). much much Oscary more after the jump.

You see wayyyy back in 1981 she already starred in a movie named Quartet (not related to the new one) which was the first follow up to her Oscar winning role in California Suite. I hope she makes two more Quartet movies before she dies so that the history books can teach baby cinephiles of the 2040s and beyond that Dame Maggie literally starred in a quartet of Quartets. This is also a fancy way of saying Dame Maggie must never leave us. Let's give her impossible bucket list goals so that she'll always be delighting us on screens big and small (Downton Abbey for one final season. Woot & Sniffle).

sure things that aren't sure things 
Without any "duh, she'll get it" biopics arriving virtually anything is possible this year. That's just how we like it. So this list begins and ends (mostly) with Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina. While it's true that writer/director Joe Wright & Keira Knightley make a fine & Oscar friendly auteur/muse pair (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement) they've both proven to be more divisive talents than most people expected them to be now that we're deeper into their filmographies. And it's worth noting that Keira is hardly a sure thing in period costume dramas; note the conspicuous lack of traction for her work in The Duchess or A Dangerous Method.

Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose) has two terrific sounding roles this year in Jacques Audiard's Rust & Bone where she plays a whale trainer who takes up with a boxer and James Gray's Lowlife where she plays a vulnerable immigrant woman caught between two charismatic men, a magician and a club owner. it seems like it might be the right year for her to win Oscar's attention again but for the fact that Audiard and Gray aren't really auteurs on AMPAS's radar. Audiard's movies invariably have a terrifically meaty leading role but they're usually grim and they're always in French and James Gray movies, even Two Lovers, never catch on despite pockets of ardent critical support. 

funny girls
Kristen Wiig in Imogene, Barbra Streisand in The Guilt Trip and Meryl Streep in Great Hope Springs are all headlining comedies but Oscar only likes to laugh when he likes to laugh. He's extremely mysterious when it comes to the giggling. You just never know when he'll be in the mood. I feel confident that he'll take a break from Streep but will seriously consider the other two if the films are well-liked: Wiig for being a important contemporary showbiz figure; Streisand for being an important showbiz legend. 

Kristen Wiig filming Imogene

still waiting for the gold man
Could this finally be the year for Laura Linney (Hyde Park on the Hudson) or Amy Adams (The Trouble With the Curve) or Viola Davis or Maggie Gyllenhaal (Won't Back Down. Uh oh. Co-lead films wreak so much havoc on Oscar charts)

Sandra on a break during the filming of "GRAVITY"reheat those frozen winners
Helen Hunt's post-Oscar film career was dud filled and spotty but given the positive response to her work in The Surrogate she might be present again. Sexing up a paraplegic won Jane Fonda a second Oscar so why not Hele but Helen Hunt is no Jane Fonda. 

And if you ask me -- you're reading so you did! -- the year's most interesting contender to argue about in terms of nominatability is Sandra Bullock in Gravity. When she won the Oscar for The Blind Side she and the audience knew it was a one time deal. Or was it? She then went on to sign on for an ambitious sci-fi film by a great director that's unlike anything she's ever done and may well live or die by the happy marriage of the film's ambitions and her own charisma as a screen star since it's practically a solo gig (give or take a little George Clooney)

Even if she's excellent an Oscar nomination might be hard to pull off. The genre doesn't usually yield acting kudos and never does outside of big hits. Existential space epics are rarely big hits either though this one needs to be for budget's sake. And even when an Oscar winner gets all suited up for an outer space drama, AMPAS can turn a blind eye (Jodie Foster in Contact, anyone? anyone? is anyone out there?)

so many more questions...

  • which women that seem like Supporting Actresses will get promoted to lead? Kidman? Hathaway?
  • which women leading their films will be demoted to supporting... besides the under-aged girls that is?
  • who am I forgetting?
  • virtually everyone who appears to be in the mix has already been nominated but it's rare to have a year without a newbie. Could Dakota Fanning (Effie), Mia Wasikowska (Stoker), Amanda Seyfried (Lovelace) or Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin) rise? Their films don't seem like easy-gets in terms of Oscar attention for various reasons.
  • Has the ship already sailed on Naomi Watt as an Oscar viable performer or will Laurie Collyer (Sherrybaby) pull it back to port with the pregnancy drama Sunlight Jr.?
  • what would it take Kristen Wiig to get a nomination for Imogene
  • how much will people try to talk themselves into Jennifer Lawrence for The Hunger Games happening?
  • which ladies are the Golden Globe voters already preemptively drooling over?
  • these are my five predictions but what are yours?


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    First Best Actress Predictions of the New Oscar Year - Blog - The Film Experience

Reader Comments (63)

How often to the Academy nominate the same performer twice BOTH for foreign language performances. I can think of Isabelle Adjani and... umm... ? And, in Adjani's case, they were (I think) decades apart. Maybe Cotillard will win the LA best actress prize (it's them that always gives it to a race outside, isn't it?) but I doubt she'll find Oscar love.

April 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Glenn, you need to check more information :P

Marcello Mastroianni (3 Nominations):

1962 - Divorcé Italian Style
1977 - An Special Journey
1987 - Black Eyes

All in Italian

Isabelle Adjani (2 Nominations)

1975 - The Story of Adele H.
1989 - Camille Claudel

Liv Ullmann (2 Nominations)

1972 - The Emigrants
1976 - Face to Face

Sophia Loren (2 Nominations)

1961 - Two Women
1964 - Marriage Italian Style

And even some considerate Penelope Cruz (In Spanish)

2006 - Volver
2008 - Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Apparently more of 60% is in Spanish)

April 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon

Am I the only one crazy enough to think that Noomi Rapace might have potential for Prometheus? Something is telling me that is the year Oscar goes "genre", and I could see Rapace getting some "Oh, we nominated Rooney Mara and not you... awkward..." votes.

Or are my expectations just too high for Prometheus?

Also, I can't see Hathaway campaigning lead at all. She's Oscar HUNGRY and she is a real threat to WIN the supporting actress award.

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJS

Kidman has a lot of buzz this year: Martha & Hemmingway (which is at Cannes and she has gotten RAVE reviews), The Paperboy (which is at cannes and apparentley she steals the movie), Stolker are all in 2012....Although if she is nominated it will be in supporting and I think she has the best chance of winning in that category than in leading.....she will probably be nominated in leading in 2014 for grace kelly or 2013 for the railway man.

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan

Kidman has a lot of buzz this year: Martha & Hemmingway (which is at Cannes and she has gotten RAVE reviews), The Paperboy (which is at cannes and apparentley she steals the movie), Stolker are all in 2012....Although if she is nominated it will be in supporting and I think she has the best chance of winning in that category than in leading.....she will probably be nominated in leading in 2014 for grace kelly or 2013 for the railway man. Thoughts?

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan

Wow, is it awful that most of these films/performances don't really interest me? Gravity seems promising as I loved Cuaron's Children of Men, but the sheer fact that Sandra Bullock solo will be on the screen for 2+ hours really dampers my hopes, frankly. But if she miraculously pulls it off, I don't see why she can't make it in, because this year seems much more weak than last year (although that may be a bit presumptuous to say now).

Something about these predictions seems a little off to me. I have a feeling Quartet might be too small and overlooked, even with some great British actors. Trouble with the Curve sounds terrible and I think the Academy has finally gotten over their Clint hard-on. Anna Karenina seems VERY interesting and I've been really impressed with Joe Wright's filmmography, so I have high hopes for this one...not sure Oscar will bite due to the film's supposed experimental take, but regardless I can't wait. And it seems like EVERYONE is talking about Nicole Kidman's part in The Paperboy so if she really delivers and is a total scene-stealer then I don't see why she can't move to lead if her character is quite substantial.

My predictions:
1. Laura Linney, Hyde Park on Hudson
2. Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina
3. Kristen Wiig, Imogene (if this hits big and is critically acclaimed, I expect the buzz to be huge around her. The Academy owes her after last year).
4. Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
5. Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games (YES I'm going there)

I also think Hathaway for Les Miz and possibly Helen Hunt in The Surrogate (the reviews I've read pretty much summarize it as the John Hawkes show) will be pushed in supporting.

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

@ Aaron, I don't know why, but I somehow did not see last year as a particularly strong one.

People talk a lot about what was not nominated, but from what was actually nominated I really enjoyed Streep and Close, the 3 other nominees had fine performances but it's nothing like 2010.

I have a hunch I will enjoy this year more.

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

what about Abbie Cornish in The Girl for the "newbie" spot? Tribeca reviews are pretty good for her, and if its a weak year. But then again, she missed the cut for Bright Star and this has considerable less buzz around it.

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleigh

My hope (and I can't believe I have to hammer this point again): A currently completely under the radar film for Katie Jarvis. What happened to her...it doesn't happen. No casting director thought "cast this girl now"? No director thought "hmm, maybe Marvel can start building to nextwave next instead of Avengers 2"? Corporate Marvel didn't think "hmm...maybe we CAN justify a nextwave movie, hopefully washing the taste of Red out of the collective mouths of Warren Ellis fans"? Or any movie at that? No one thought she'd be a worthwhile presence to have around? I bet she'd have made Burton's Alice in Wonderland more watchable, at the very least. (I think Jarvis'd be a convincing badass. Mia Wasikowska? Not so much.) Maybe a British independant or two? And we have nothing. WE HAVE NOTHING. Not even a funny cameo as a boorish British tourist in America in some road movie focused on the Americans. I rail on Bruce Campbell for not getting the career he deserved after Army of Darkness. Well, he, at least, APPEARS IN FILMS. The touring "Shakespeare for elementary schools" thing is noble, and might help pay the bills and leave her close to her kid, but I still shake my head that she's been left out of film work. Hopefully some film comes up and wows critics by the end of this year or by mid next year. Which I'll say every time I mention this until it freaking happens.

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

What rave reviews has Kidman got? critics give the "rave reviews" and they have not seen the films yet. What she has is great buzz from the few people who have seen Paperboy and H&G, we still don't know how it will all play out.

I certainly hope she makes the cut but there is no solid word on her performances, yet.

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

What's the word on the size of Rachel McAdams' role in The Burial/Untitled TM Film?

May 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

Sawyer -- if there is word it's suspect. People never know how big their roles are in Malick movies until the film is completed. rememeber all that hubbub about THE THIN RED LINE not starting out as Jim Caviezel's movie ... at all.

Amy -- good point. It's all hearsay at this point until things start screening. And even Cannes reactions don't tell enough of the story. Dunst never got as much press again, for instance, as when Melancholia debuted.

May 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

The Academy loves a good story - and giving Barbra Streisand her first acting nomination in almost 40 years, after being snubbed repeatedly in the past, will be the story the year. Word is Streisand is fantastic in "The Guilt Trip." It's time to invite her back to the party!

May 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeshi
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