Follow us on

2013 Awards Season: Oscar Highlight: Best Lead Actress

February 21st, 2013

With our annual Oscar Prediction contest underway, now is the best time to look at the nominees and try and figure out who the favorites are and which films should just feel honored to be nominated. This week we will look at the four acting categories, finishing with Best Lead Actress. This race is easily the most competitive of the four acting categories this year. The person seen as the favorite has switched, more than once, and at the moment, I'm not sure who is going to win.

(Note: All previous awards listed are only for acting and not other categories. However, they are for supporting and lead acting.)

Best Lead Actress

Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
Tomatometer Score: 94% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: One Golden Globe and One SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: Golden Globe
Actress's Previous Major Nominations: One Oscar, One Golden Globes, Two SAGs, and One Independent Spirit Award
Actress's Previous Major Wins: One SAG
Notes: It was clear very early on that Jessica Chastain was a great actress and I assumed she would win an Oscar, eventually. When I heard she was cast as the lead in the film based on the mission to capture or kill Osama Bin Ladden, which was being directed by Kathryn Bigelow, my initial reaction was, "Well, that was fast." I knew from the very start it would be a major Awards Season player and I practically assumed she would win an Oscar. However, something strange happened. Jennifer Lawrence earned even better buzz for The Silver Linings Playbook. Given the genres of the two films, Jessica Chastain should be the favorite, but Jennifer Lawrence did win the SAG.

Jennifer Lawrence for The Silver Linings Playbook
Tomatometer Score: 92% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: One Golden Globe, Two SAGs, and One Independent Spirit Award
Movie's Previous Major Wins: One Golden Globe and One SAG (One Pending)
Actress's Previous Major Nominations: One Oscar, One Golden Globes, One SAGs, and One Independent Spirit Awards
Actress's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: The first time I saw Jennifer Lawrence, I assumed she would win an Oscar. I didn't think it would happen this fast, or be for a film that is essentially a romantic comedy. She hasn't won yet, and she might not even be the favorite to win this year, but she is at worst a coin toss to take home the statuette.

Emmanuelle Riva for Amour
Tomatometer Score: 93% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actress's Previous Major Nominations: None
Actress's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This nomination was one of the biggest surprises out of all of Oscar nominations. It is incredibly rare for a foreign language film to earn any nominations outside of the one category. Also, this is Emmanuelle Riva's first major nomination, and she earned it at a record age. It is very unlikely that she will win, but this is an incredible feat, nonetheless.

Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Tomatometer Score: 86% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: One Golden Globe, One SAG, and One Independent Spirit Award
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actress's Previous Major Nominations: First Acting Role
Actress's Previous Major Wins: First Acting Role
Notes: There are somethings that shouldn't effect Oscar voting, but does anyway. For instance, genre matters. Oscar voters tend not to give enough respect to comedies, science fiction, or animated films. Box office numbers also matter, to a limited degree. Many great performances are not seen by enough to win awards. Then there's age. If an actor or actress is really young, their chances of winning plummet, as voters assume they can skip them this year and give them a make-up award in the future. Quvenzhané Wallis is the youngest actress to ever be nominated for Best Lead Actress cutting four years off the record previously held by Keisha Castle-Hughes. Because of this, I don't think she has a hope of winning the award. Hopefully she will get many challenging roles in the future and she will be recognized again.

Naomi Watts for The Impossible
Tomatometer Score: 81% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: One Golden Globe and One SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actress's Previous Major Nominations: One Oscar, One SAG and Two Independent Spirit Awards
Actress's Previous Major Wins: One Independent Spirit Award
Notes: This film has earned more than $160 million worldwide. However, of that, less than $20 million has been earned domestically. This is likely not enough money to win. The box office numbers shouldn't matter, but you can't vote for a film you haven't seen.

Conclusion: Right now it is a coin toss between Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence. I think both actresses will earn at least one Oscar during their careers, but this year it is ... flipping a coin ... Jennifer Lawrence's turn.


-

Filed under: Awards Season, The Impossible, Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amour, Kathryn Bigelow, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts, Quvenzhané Wallis, Emmanuelle Riva