With the internet strenuously erecting a ring in which Julianne and Jennifer can mud wrestle, let's look at two or three other imaginary Best Actress Battles. First up is the "I'm just happy to be nominated" tussle.
Felicity vs. Reese
Reese Witherspoon looked like a major force in the Best Actress race when Wild first premiered in September as the wandering self-redemptive Cheryl Strayed. Sadly the year-end party hasn't thrown much confetti her way. To date, she has won just one (maybe two?) small regional critics prizes. I blame the lack of awards on three things: the movie wasn't released in the fall where its contemplative moods would not have been in direct opposition to the bustling holidays surrounding it; Reese has already had her Oscar coronation which often kills future prospects for actresses; and, finally, the "Reeseurgence" never caught on in quite the way the McConaughissance did in its year, partially because there was no Magic Mike pop culture hit kicking the movement off in the first place a year prior.
So the Southern Belle finds herself in the odd company of Felicity Jones (Theory of Everything). Jones is about as diametrically opposed to Reese in terms of celebrity persona and acting style as you can get. Both the Nashville spark plug and the demure English flower are consistent figures in shortlists (the trifecta: SAG, BFCA, Globes) but neither appear to have generated the excitement that leads to #1 ballot placements. Though it should be noted that Oscar pundits, myself included, make far too much of preferential ballot systems since every year Oscar lineups are peppered with people and movies that are extraordinarly difficult to imagine as #1 favorites.
Do these two beautiful women have hidden reserves of campaign power and industry support to draw upon still? Are either of them in danger of not hearing their names read out on January 15th?