- Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)Between the weight loss, hair chopping, mother-connection etc., she pretty much has the kind of textbook Oscar-narrative the Academy tends to appreciate. Of course the fact that she is a young, beautiful leading lady playing a remarkably baity, iconic supporting role to great critical acclaim, doesn't hurt, either.
- Sally Field (Lincoln)She has been in the business for 50 (!) years and after all this time, she is still spectacularly relevant : recent Emmy/SAG wins for her primetime TV show that ended last year, and then a well-received summer smash hit and now Lincoln, a moneymaker AND a damn strong Oscar-player. Her story of fighting for the role after the career she has had, is truly inspirational, and might be enough to prove once again, that they do...they love her, they REALLY love her.
- Helen Hunt (The Sessions)In recent years it has been a very 'hip' thing to hate on her Academy Award winning performance, and as a sucker of big comebacks, I couldn't be happier to see her proving those haters wrong. In my opinion, she delivers THE best performance of her career in The Sessions and it's nice to see her getting praise accordingly.
- Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy)WOW...talk about a brilliant performance in a bad film. I am a huge fan (Rabbit Hole was my favorite film in 2010) so I could never be against her receiving an Oscar nomination – I consider her one of the very best actresses today – yet I am still genuinely shocked she managed to pull through and secure the kind of strong precursors that could easily land her her 4th nomination (first in supporting). It will be interesting to see how it goes. As much as I admire her body of work, I don't necessarily think the Academy will buy the hype and recognize her work in a film voters will probably hate.
- Amy Adams (The Master)Her SAG-exclusion should put her in 6th place, my theory is that since Maggie Smith could split votes with herself (Marigold vs. Quartet), Adams could still make the cut more easily than your usual SAG-snubinees. I also don't think Kidman is a sure thing, so there is probably plenty of room for Adams. We'll see !
- Maggie Smith (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
- Judi Dench (Skyfall)She received a BFCA-nomination which was a good start but not nearly enough to be considered a top5 player, especially with the SAG/GG snubs, so if for this iconic British role she gets a Bafta-nod – which I think she will – she will be probably closer to that nomination than Maggie Smith.
- Ann Dowd (Compliance)If the Oscar-race is all about perception, unfortunately hers is lacking : no star power, critics awards, SAG/GG nominations, strong film to rely on etc. At this point it would take a miracle to get her in that Oscar top5. Still, the BFCA-nod proves her remarkable performance hasn't been forgotten just yet and hopefully even if she doesn't make the cut, all this exposure will help her land bigger and better roles in the near future.
- Samantha Barks (Les Miserables)The Academy has a thing for relatively unknown wide-eyed ingenues, and this British one is playing a very famous, baity role to great critical acclaim. Although she faces massive internal competition and her film has to overcome mixed early word, I wouldn't count her out.
- Kerry Washington (Django Unchained)She has been around for a while, after a string of overlooked, critically acclaimed feature performances, now she is headlining her very own TV show and that might secure her the kind of exposure that could be crucial for an Oscar-campaign. Problem is, her film seems to be all about the men, good news, that if that's the case, she can easily stand out in voters' minds and doesn't have to face the massive internal competition her co-stars do.
- Jackie Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)Even though she seems to be overshadowed by her three co-stars, there is still a tiny chance the Academy will go apeshit over her film and if that happens, she could sneak in, too.
- Pauline Collins (Quartet)A truly brilliant, scene-stealing supporting turn, unfortunately she hasn't been part of the conversation even though she most certainly should have been. If there weren't strong(er) British contenders (Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Samantha Barks) in the race, she would definitely have a better chance, but now even if the oh-so-mysterious British-vote will favor someone in this category, it probably won't be the magnificent Collins.
- Gloria Reuben (Lincoln)The studio decided to avoid split votes and only campaigns for Sally Field in the supporting actress category, having said that, Reuben has been receiving strong notices for her performance, and even though it is highly unlikely she could sneak in, if the Academy decides to (shockingly) nominate Field in Lead, then she might have a better shot at this after all...but that's like a 1%-scenario.
- Emma Watson (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)The critically acclaimed, cult-bound film was definitely a great start of her post-Harry Potter career, and last week she even received some unexpected love from the critics groups. Now that probably won't be enough for widespread recognition (=Oscar-nod), but it will be definitely an impressive detail of her body of work the next time she enters the Oscar-conversation.