I do believe years from now people will look back at this Best Actress year as one of the best in the category’s history. It’s not completely perfect and not the best, but the top 3 performances really are extraordinary.
I will get to ranking them in a few weeks, after I see the films (again) and count their screentime. This is just the introductory post and a look at how we ended up with these specific nominees. As of now, the only film of the 5 I have yet to see is Philomena, which I hope will be made available to me before March 2nd.
Interesting to mention this is only the 4th time in Oscar history that there are no first-time nominees in the Best Actress category (the other Best Actress years being 1941, 1944 and 1994 – previously discussed on the blog).
The 5 ladies that Oscar has chosen for 2013, in alphabetical order:
Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser, in American Hustle
Let’s look at each nominee and how they made it to the list of 5. Entering this race as a favourite is Cate Blanchett, who I think was a lock and had the first chance of getting nominated. This is Cate’s 6th Oscar nomination, and the 3rd in the leading category. She has previously won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator (2004). Oscar nomination aside, she’s received some major awards for playing Jasmine: the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Drama, the SAG Award, and awards from major critics’ groups like the New York Film Critics, National Society of Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Plus, nominations from BAFTA and Independent Spirit Awards (as of now, both pending). She is the clear favourite for another Oscar win, having dominated the season.
I think the actress with the second chance of getting nominated was Sandra Bullock. And it’s easy to see why, considering her film Gravity is a serious Oscar contender and one of the most profitable films of 2013. This is Sandra’s 2nd Oscar nomination, following her (infamous) Oscar win for Best Actress for The Blind Side (2009). Sandra enters the race having received nominations from all the major voting groups: nominations for Best Actress – Drama at the Golden Globes, for the SAG Awards and BAFTA. She also has a couple of wins from critics’ awards, but only small groups (like Kansas). The fact that she’s very popular among actors and a great campaigner also helped secure the nomination.
I think from here down, any of these actresses could’ve (more or less surprisingly) miss on a nomination. I would say Judi Dench was next, by chance of getting nominated. Her film, Philomena, also surprised with a Best Picture nomination and she did benefit from the British support, the British side of voters from the Academy. Interesting to note she is also the only one of the 5 nominees playing a real-life person (not a famous one, though). This is Judi’s 7th Oscar nomination and the 5th in the Best Actress category. She has previously won an Oscar for her Supporting performance in Shakespeare in Love (1998). For this performance Judi has also received nominations for Best Actress – Drama at the Golden Globes, from the SAG Awards and from BAFTA (which she might just end up winning).
Meryl Streep received her 18th acting nomination this year, more than any other actor in Oscar’s history, male or female. 15 of these nominations are for Best Actress (a record in this category). She has previously won 3 Oscars, for Best Supporting Actress for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and for Best Actress for Sophie’s Choice (1982) and The Iron Lady (2011). Despite her giving another amazing performance, this nomination was not a sure-thing, mostly due to the film receiving mixed reviews. Meryl enters this specific race with nominations from the SAG Awards and from the Golden Globes (for Best Actress – Comedy or Musical).
The almost-surprise nominee from the last segment of the awards season is Amy Adams, who, although she might’ve been 4th or 5th in line to get nominated, is the dark horse for the win and the only serious threat to Cate getting the trophy. She got nominated mostly due to the success of American Hustle, both with critics and the audiences, and the perfect timing of her late campaign. This is Amy’s 5th Oscar nomination, and the 1st one in this category, the other 4 being for Supporting Actress. She’s also the only one in this group to have never won an Oscar. Amy enters the race with a Golden Globe win for Best Actress – Comedy or Musical and a BAFTA nomination. The lack of a SAG nomination discouraged people from predicting her.
And now about the competition the 5 actresses had encountered. These were the other names thrown in the game.
One obvious runner-up / #6:
Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks (she had received SAG, Golden Globes and BAFTA nominations, a National Board of Review win, but the Oscars didn’t care).
Quite possible / Dark horses:
Adèle Exarchopoulos – Blue Is the Warmest Color
Julie Delpy – Before Midnight
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Greta Gerwig – Frances Ha
Very long shots:
Kate Winslet – Labor Day
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss – Enough Said
Berenice Bejo – The Past
Felicity Jones – The Invisible Woman
Carey Mulligan – The Great Gatsby
Sophie Nelisse – The Book Thief
Paulina Garcia – Gloria
I guess my ranking will be posted in a few weeks.
Enjoy the season! J