1 Meryl Strep – ‘Julie & Julia’
Once again she has charmed the pants off the critics. She is also an Academy legend who is long over due for another win, and here she is in a bio pic for a very beloved character, so that kind of wraps things up. Her biggest hurdle is her other lead role of the year, in a another comedy. Will this end up going supporting if the reviews are also exceptional for ‘It’s Complicated’?
2 Gabourey Sibide – ‘Precious’
By all accounts the performance is there. The critics have all said she is a true find and holds her own against her more famous co-stars The problem is will Academy voters go to see the film? Also the performance is said to be very very inward which sometimes is hard to judge (for some) compared to bigger “acting”. However she has been doing the talk show circuit and been a pro, winning over everyone she meets. Campaigning like this works wonders. Her buzz since Toronto has sky rocketed.
3 Carey Milligan – ‘An Education’
At the moment she has so much buzz behind her, that is will be very surprising if she does not make the cut. She is a pretty young thing in a break out role in a film every critic says she pretty much carries. However if the Academy does not agree that could change things drastically. I am not convinced she can win this, but she should easily slide into a nomination.
4 Helen Mirren - 'The Last Station'
Everyone says this will happen. She holds back when she needs to and chews the scenery to great effect.
This is almost as likely as the top three women. What started out as a weak field is looking very strong right now, and Mirren adds some heft to the category. Unlikely to win, par a few critics awards though.
5 Sandra Bullock - 'The Blind Side'
The woman has charisma to spare, and has been in the business for a long time now, enough time to build up some respect within the Academy. This is said to be a winning performance from her, and it should be a nice big Thanksgiving hit in theatres. If the critics praise is exceptional, then she could be another late entry.
6 Abbie Cornish – ‘Bright Star’
Another early one to be reviewed, and another female driven film where the performance got the critics shouting praise. The film campaign needs to be wonderful and the reviews need to be exstatic for her to make it in, which they are. There are more attention grabbing roles (Sibide, Monaghan, Mulligan) vying for that ingénue place. If the film is in other categories she should easily make it in.
7 Saoirse Ronan – ‘The Lovely Bones’
She is supposed to be great in the film, and she is a previous nominee. The book is well loved so the film will be seen. Also Peter Jackson is behind the camera so that gives it added 'heft'. There are two main problems. Firstly, how is the film? Jackson is wonderful, but how will this translate? Secondly her age. The Academy seems to notice category fraud with child actors in lead roles ('Whale Rider' anyone) but can she still be thrown into Supporting?
8 Meryl Streep – ‘It’s Complicated’
The other Meryl film. Nancy Meyers directed Diane Keaton to a nomination, and there are many who think that Meryl is a better actress then Diane is (I am one of them…sorry Keaton-ites). But is the film any good, or is it too fluffy? The trailer gives nothing away so we are going to have to wait and see. At the moment it seems Streep is box office gold, so expect it to make money, but will it get her in over ‘Julie & Julia’?
9 Marion Cotillard – ‘Nine’
Is said to have the most emotionally satisfying role in the film, and some advance screenings all concur. With this and ‘Public Enemies’ she is having a good year. This is another likely nomination unless internal competition is far too much that they all get swallowed up.
10 Penélope Cruz – ‘Broken Embraces’
This nomination is going to be an uphill battle for her. She has ‘Nine’ coming out later in the year and all the attention could be taken away. She has also just won so the Academy may feel she needs a little break from the stress of the nomination. Her performance is said to be dazzling, but will that matter when there are performances this year that are more gritty and real?
11 Brenda Blethyn - 'London River'
Said to be her best since 'Secrets and Lies'.
She plays a woman looking for her daughter after the London bombing, so the role is riff with emotional punch. Critics have said she is in more restrained mode here which can work well in her favor. She already has good will with the Academy and a LA qualifying run could be enough to get her into consideration.
12 Michelle Pfeiffer - 'Cheri'
She has not been a contender for a long time, mainly because she does not work that much.
The critics did not respond to the film with raves, more like mellow applause. She got good notices, but not the type of reviews that would make her a strong contender.
She may have to rely on her name, good will and a major campaign push to get this.
13 Michelle Monaghan – ‘Trucker’
There is always that indie film that has been gathering praise when it is shown at festivals. It is usually female driven and as we get nearer to awards season the buzz slowly starts building (Felicity Huffman, Melissa Leo ect). Monaghan is a good actress and is said to raise the movie to a new level. What she needs now is to get deafening praise and the film also need to get a lot of love.
14 Charlotte Gainsbourg – ‘Antichrist’
The film is either loved or hated.
Once again Lars Von Trier has put his lead actress through the ringer. And the generally unlikable film (which was booed at Cannes) is still getting brilliant write ups for the acting.
It is doubtful the Academy would put the screener in their collective DVD players, but A Best Actress Cannes win is nothing to be sniffed at.
15 Tilda Swinton – ‘Julia’
The reviews for the film were just ok. The reviews for the performance were brilliant. She playes a woman on self destructive mode, and apparently nails it. Does the Academy like woman who are just behaving badly? This is another unlikely nomination as is, but if she gets a few year end sitations from the various awards bodies, then she is in the race.
16 Catalina Saavedra – ‘La Nana’/’The Maid’
She won the World Cinema acting prize (which Carey Mulligan was also up for) at Sundance. People who have seen it say it is an incredible performance. IF the film gets seen then she could be in with a shot.
However it is not often that foreign language performances make it in the top five and she will have to compete with the more popular Cruz.