Best Actress in a Leading Role 2014

Most recent update: In flux as of Dec. 1, 2014

juliannemoore_stillalice playlist
A photo of Julianne Moore in Still Alice (via The Playlist).

Julianne Moore likely walks away with the trophy, while fellow festival darlings Felicity Jones, Rosamund Pike, and Reese Witherspoon look to fill out the race.

And now we arrive at the hypothetical fifth spot. Amy Adams‘ perennial status helps, but divisive reaction to Big Eyes hurts. Jennifer Aniston cooked up career-best reviews for Cake, but will voters pay attention to such a small film? Emily Blunt might have her Oscar moment for Into the Woods, but word is that her category placement is a bit puzzling as far as this adaptation is concerned. It’s difficult to beleive that Marion Cotillard hasn’t been nominated since her win for La vie en Rose (2007), and her win with the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) (for The Immigrant and Two Days, One Night) gives her an edge. Gugu Mbatha-Raw‘s breakthrough year might help her land a nod for Belle, but will Fox Searchlight give the early-year release enough backing for it to happen? Shailene Woodley might be in the mix for The Fault in Our Stars, too.

BEST ACTRESS PREDICTIONS (as of Dec. 1)

My “official” top five includes only films/performances that already have distributors for release in the United States. I also hope to write/post pages for each contender in the near future. The process of guessing who’ll get in and who won’t always seems to be collaborative, so feel free to leave a comment – here or on Twitter – that addresses any relevant information you don’t see on the page and/or any corrections I need to make.

Predicted Nominees

  1. Julianne Moore for Still Alice (more)

  2. Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything (more)

  3. Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl (more)

  4. Reese Witherspoon for Wild (more)

  5. Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night (more)

Next in line?

  1. Amy Adams for Big Eyes (more)
  2. Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Belle (more)
  3. Jennifer Aniston for Cake (more)
  4. Hilary Swank for The Homesman (more)
  5. Emily Blunt for Into the Woods (more)
  6. NEW!!! Marion Cotillard for The Immigrant (more)
  7. Shailene Woodley for The Fault in Our Stars (more)
  8. Jenny Slate for Obvious Child (more)
  9. Anne Dorval for Mommy (more)
  10. Keira Knightley for Begin Again (more)
  11. Angelina Jolie for Maleficent (more)
  12. Kristen Wiig for The Skeleton Twins (more)
  13. Rosario Dawson for Top Five (more)
  14. Mia Wasikowska for Tracks (more)
  15. Anne Hathaway for Interstellar (more)
  16. Jessica Chastain for The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (more)
  17. Helen Mirren for The Hundred-Foot Journey (more)
  18. Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Beyond the Lights (more)
  19. Scarlett Johansson for Under the Skin (more)
  20. RETURNING!!! Melissa McCarthy for St. Vincent (more)
  • Alicia Vikander for Testament of Youth (more)
  • Jessica Chastain for Miss Julie (more)

Other Potential Contenders

  • Quvenzhané Wallis for Annie (more)
  • Tessa Thompson for Dear White People (more)
  • Maggie Smith for My Old Lady (more)
  • Mia Wasikowska for Madame Bovary (more)
  • Scarlett Johansson for Lucy (more)
  • Keira Knightley for Laggies (more)
  • Shirley MacLaine for Elsa and Fred (more)
  • Juliet Stevenson for The Letters (more)

reesewitherspoon_wild
“How much more baggage will get me that second Oscar?” (Photo via Collider/Reese Witherspoon’s Twitter account.)

RELEVANT NEWS (Sept. 1)

Festivals

The world premiere of Wild with Reese Witherspoon opened the Telluride Film Festival; festivalgoers were big on the performance but less wild about the film itself. (The Imitation Game emerged as the big discovery of the fest upon its world premiere, which probably takes away some of the buzz Fox Searchlight hoped to get.) Hilary Swank picked up steam for her work in The Homesman, which screened at Telluride after mixed response at Cannes; she won a Silver Medallion from the fest to celebrate her work in cinema – tributes never hurt. Meanwhile, another adaptation of Madame Bovary – this one led by Mia Wasikowska – bowed at the fest; word on the actress’s work was hardly unanimous, but it couldn’t hurt her cause for Tracks… if that film gets a push. Wild and Madame Bovary will also screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, which kicks off this Thursday.

Speaking of TIFF, lots of sight-unseen potential there. Jessica Chastain returns to the fest in Liv Ullmann’s adaptation of Miss Julie, which premieres on Sunday; if nothing else, expect her work here to boost her chances for The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them. Word on the street for Felicity Jones’ performance as, Jane Wilde, Stephen Hawking’s supportive wife, in The Theory of Everything, which premieres on Sunday, suggests that she can win, but category placement has yet to be determined. Meanwhile, one-time nominee Melissa McCarthy plays a determined and loving single mother opposite Bill Murray in St. Vincent, which first screens on Friday. The actress looks like a long shot to some, admittedly, but hey, Helen Hunt and Jennifer Lawrence won for similar roles; McCarthy has the advantage of going against type after becoming a box-office star, too.

Of course, some films are looking for exposure and, more importantly, U.S. distributors. Four-time nominee Julianne Moore suffers from early Alzheimer’s in Still Alice, which TIFF will debut on Monday. But she’s not the only actress who might benefit from the mental-disorders advantage: Kristen Wiig suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder in the dramedy Welcome to Me, which debuts on Friday; whether or not the comedy is too extreme for awards voters – Will Ferrell and Adam McKay produce – remains to be seen. Jennifer Aniston goes against type in the drama Cake, which premes on Monday. Lastly, one-time nominee Anna Kendrick stars in yet another musical, Richard LaGravenese’s small-scale The Last Five Years, scheduled for a Sunday bow; she might land her first leading nod with a dramatic breakthrough in a genre that she’s becoming synonymous with.

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