The category of best actress is quite an eclectic mix of veterans, perennials and new comers. Their films for which they are nominated are as eclectic as the group of actresses themselves. While this category does seem to have a clear front runner, it is worth noting that there very well could be a surprise here. Two of the actresses are not at all strangers to being nominated, while the others are experiencing all of this for the first time.
Cate Blanchett Carol
Cate is a two time Oscar winner and this is her seventh nomination and sixth in the last eleven years. This puts her in very elite company, with the likes of Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet and even Jennifer Lawrence, who is also nominated in this category once again. This year she plays the role of Carol Aird who is a 1950’s woman of means who is stuck in a marriage she doesn’t want. She eventually meets Therese (fellow nominee Rooney Mara) a younger woman who is quiet and shy, but has aspirations to be much more. The two find a connection and have a torrid love affair. Blanchett is probably the biggest threat to the favorite when it comes to winning.
Brie Larson Room
While considered a newcomer, Brie Larson has been around much longer and is much more experienced than most realize. Room is without a doubt her breakout role and has made everyone stand up and take notice. In Room she plays a mother to a five year old boy named Jack. She gave birth to Jack while she has been held captive in a small room. She was abducted two years before Jack was born and has been there ever since. After they manage to escape, she struggles to adapt to life back on the outside and helping her son accept a world he has never seen. The emotion and depth to which Larson gives her character are so strong and palpable, you can’t help but feel them. It is those aspects that have Larson as the clear front runner to walk away an Oscar winner after her first nomination.
Jennifer Lawrence Joy
This is Jennifer Lawrence’s fourth nomination in the last five years. She has been one of the most successful and hardest working actresses all while becoming America’s sweetheart. Lawrence has one Oscar under her belt for the brilliant film, Silver Linings Playbook. That was her first film with David O. Russell and she has managed a nomination for every movie she has made with him. This may be the most successful actor/director pairing since De Niro/Scorsese. Her portrayal of Joy Mangano, the inventor of the miracle mop, who created an empire all while juggling her family and financial disarray. Lawrence is not likely to win, despite winning the Golden Globe once again. This is one of the weaker nominations despite her being a wonderful actress. Check out my full review here
Charlotte Rampling 45 Years
Charlotte Rampling has been a wonderful actress for 50 years and surprisingly, this is her first Academy Award nomination. She is an actress who has undoubtedly challenged herself her entire career, which has led to the fact that she has made films that aren’t usually mainstream types. In 45 Years she plays a wife who is about to celebrate an anniversary when life changing events are about to take place. If Rampling were to pull out the upset, the auditorium would without a doubt erupt into a standing ovation (as it will hopefully do for fellow veteran, Sylvester Stallone).
Saoirse Ronan Brooklyn
Most people will recognize Ronan from her role in Atonement, where she played the young Briony, who changed lives by accusing her sister of a false crime for jealous spite. Well, she has grown up and has forced everyone to learn how to pronounce her first name (hint it rhymes with inertia). This is her second nomination, the first being for Atonement, and she is clearly poised to become a major star. In Brooklyn, she plays an Irish immigrant who has a secret past and can only avoid it for so long. Not likely to win, but having two time Oscar nominee before her name will have to offers pouring in.