Gold Diggers: Actress Action

Since last week The Hollywood Reporter hosted an actress roundtable that was a quite enjoyable watch, I thought I would comment on the state of the actress race. THR had 6 actresses chatting at their poorly decorate table: Amy Adams, Annette Bening, Helena Bonham Carter, Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman, and Hilary Swank. I think they batted 5 for 6 in predicting future nominees… but let’s step into the field and take a look.

I’ll show you how I go through my process. There are 2 strategies and I try and use both. There are certain categories that you can fill and choose actresses that you think will get nominated. Or you can eliminate people by mentioning some aspect of their chances that are polarizing and will ultimately fail.


Here’s the field: Amy Adams (The Fighter), Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech), Marion Cotillard (Inception), Elle Fanning (Somewhere), Barbara Hershey (Black Swan), Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Miranda Richardson (Made in Dagenham), Saorise Ronan (The Way Back), Sissy Spacek (Get Low), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom), Dianne Wiest (Rabbit Hole)

I’ll be very surprised if someone outside of these 13 names gets a nomination. It’s a very weak field and these are definitely the people with the most buzz. Let’s start with some eliminations. Elle Fanning is probably great, but I think she is the minor with the least buzz. Jacki Weaver has a very strong following, but it’s small. I don’t think many people will see her film, nor do I think her performance is up to snuff.

Mila Kunis is a little too branded as just a pretty face to break through, and I’m not sure the Academy will respond to her being the driving force of lesbianism in an evil way. And I haven’t seen Black Swan yet, but I don’t think Barbara Hershey gets too much to do as the stage mom. Black Swan is Natalie Portman’s show… but we’ll get there later. Marion Cotillard is Inception’s best shot at an acting nomination, but I think the her chances have deteriorated since Inception’s lost steam since the summer. A DVD release might do something, but I bet more for Best Picture win chances as opposed to her nomination chances.

So who remains? Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Miranda Richardson, Saorise Ronan, Sissy Spacek, Hailee Steinfeld, Dianne Wiest. 8 names.

Let’s fill some slots.

Helena Bonham Carter is the only definite. She probably gives a fine performance, but in a movie that is stealing the show. Her role is important and a little out of type for her. She is also well-loved.

I’d venture to say Dianne Wiest is the next best thing. She is extremely well loved and Rabbit Hole is gaining steam by the second. In a weak category, she could break through.

Since there are 2 minors in contention, my guess is only one will prevail and that one will be Hailee Steinfeld. Her character carries True Grit and that should actually be enough to give her the nomination. Whereas Ronan’s character comes in a little later and is part of an ensemble. Children really only break into the mix when they are central to the story or are secretly leads.

The academy also has a huge boner for Amy Adams. She was nominated for Doubt when she was the second best female in that movie. Now that she’s the been called the best female in her acting strong movie, she’ll get the nomination.

For the fifth slot, I’m just going to choose one of the three remaining previously nominated, slightly older women who are not the most likely nominations of their movie. I’ll say Miranda Richardson slides in on Sally Hawkins and Made in Dagenham love.

So that makes our field:

1. Amy Adams – The Fighter

2. Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech

3. Miranda Richardson – Made in Dagenham

4. Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit

5. Dianne Wiest – Rabbit Hole

This should be at the same time easier and harder. We start straight off the bat with 12 names, but I’m only including 4 to be nice.

Here’s the field: Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Halle Berry (Frankie & Alice), Sally Hawkins (Made in Dagenham), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Lesley Manville (Another Year), Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right), Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go), Gwyneth Paltrow (Country Strong), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Tilda Swinton (I Am Love), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

So the easily eliminated are: Sally Hawkins – not enough buzz in too strong of a field; Gwyneth Paltrow – no buzz on the movie but its slowly forming. She’s doing Glee tomorrow night and she rocked the CMAs. I think that’ll get her a best song nomination though; Tilda Swinton – she’s obviously phenomenal, but the film has lost it’s steam and the critics have chosen others as their darlings; Carey Mulligan – she was phenomenal, but the movie was a non-starter. It’s going to struggle to get it’s much deserved Original Score nomination, let alone get Mulligan nommed.

So now I have to guarantee my spots.

Annette Bening is currently on track to win! She is way overdue, has the “I’ve lost to Hilary Swank twice” narrative, is considered Hollywood Royalty (she’s married to Warren Beatty), and she’s the best part of her film.  Easy.

Natalie Portman is just as easy. She is well-loved, plays a challenging role, and is the best part of her actress driven film.

The name that I’m confident to predict that other’s are not so able is Jennifer Lawrence. She’s got a lot of things going for her. She’s young and phenomenal in the role. She fills the role of never nominated ingenue, and she’s got the Sundance break out narrative. She’s also managed to maintain momentum since January. She’s in.

Choosing the next 2 out of the 5 is absurdly difficult. Here’s what each of the 5 has going for them.

Halle Berry: Her buzz is super fresh and she’s the only actress of any sort of interesting ethnicity in the mix. And she’s got a return from obscurity narrative waiting to strike.

Nicole Kidman: Her buzz has carried the film out of the Toronto Film Festival scramble to a distribution. She also has the rise back to greatness and is well-respected.

Lesley Manville: By all accounts she gives a power house of a performance in Mike Leigh’s Another Year. But that film just doesn’t seem to have maintained the buzz like some others.

Julianne Moore: She’s gotten the short end of the stick. She gives an amazing performance, but is overshadowed by Bening. She is, however, arguably more of a lead and is just as overdue for a win… but she won’t.

Michelle Williams: She and Ryan Gosling ARE Blue Valentine. Their relationship is supposed to be heartbreakingly tender. And Michelle Williams supposedly gives a hell of an interview.

I can’t use anything more than guts to predict that Michelle Williams and Nicole Kidman will make it through.

1. Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right

2. Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole

3. Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone

4. Natalie Portman – Black Swan

5. Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine

There  you have it! At some point this week I’m going to post my entire predictions on another page. Comments on my predictions?


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