REEL BRIEF’s Oscar Watch: Best Actress

More predictions on who will earn an Academy Award nomination.

REEL BRIEF Oscar Watch for Best Actress

1.  Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) – This movie garnered rave reviews from its debut at film festivals–as well as plenty of Oscar talk afterwards.  The 4-time Academy Award nominee Moore plays Dr. Alice Howland, a linguistics professor, wife and mother to 3 children who unexpectedly begins to experience trouble with her memory. “Still Alice” is based upon the book by first-time author Lisa Genova on Alzheimer’s, and who earned a Ph.D from Harvard University in neuroscience.

“Still Alice” has only arrived in limited theaters this month in a rushed attempt to get the film into Oscar consideration for 2014.  Since the film won’t be widely distributed to U.S. theaters until mid-January, here’s a quick snippet from the movie…

Finally, I highly recommend you check out the real life Dr. Lisa Genova and her story here.

2.  Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) – Pike’s character Amy Dunne carried this movie, and to this day, still haunts audience members who watched this roller coaster ride of a film.  Even readers of the fictional best-seller by Gillian Flynn, should give props to Pike for staying true to Amy’s personality. Pike provided an Oscar-worthy performance as the missing wife of Ben Affleck and led an ensemble cast that was brilliant from top to bottom. Pike’s competent portrayal spun this remarkable tale into a believable narrative yarn.


Gone Girl: Rosamund Pike.

3.  Shailene Woodley (“The Fault in Our Stars”) – Woodley gives an emotional and heart-wrenching performance in this teenage love story adapted from the best-selling novel by author John Green. Woodley’s character, Hazel, suffers from Stage IV thyroid cancer and meets a boy who is a cancer survivor.  Woodley’s tremendous acting drew in theater audiences to cope with this film’s emotional storyline with a resilient message; acknowledge the pain we’re dealt while continuing to embrace life and its sometimes incomplete endings.  Shailene Woodley’s chances of landing an Oscar nomination remain slim in a field of established veterans.  But she deserves to be on the Best Actress list for her believable portrayal of a cancer fighter.  Who watched that film and didn’t feel like Woodley was fighting for her teen life?


4.  Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything”) – Jones’ teamwork with Eddie Redmayne (as Dr. Stephen Hawking) provided 2014’s best leading male and female actors in one film.  As Mrs. Jane Hawking, Jones single-handedly turned a movie about a man’s struggle with a debilitating disease into a story about love and life. “The Theory of Everything” is an emotional story told by two exceptional and Oscar-worthy performances from Jones and Redmayne. Although it would be easy to sum up Stephen Hawking’s life as one of scientific gains or physical setbacks, it’s actually really about neither. Hawking’s perseverance and determination, as a result of Jane’s love and prodding, gave the physicist more than worldwide accolades and successful math formulas. It gave them both children and a new chance at life. And that’s the true inspiration behind Jones’ brilliant performance.


Felicity Jones with Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”)

5.  Hilary Swank (“The Homesman”) – The lone bright spot in “The Homesman” is the presence of this two-time Academy Award winner. Standing between a depressing storyline and multiple horrid scenes of harsh treatment towards women, lurks the unmistakable generosity of Swank’s character, Mary Bee Cuddy.

The Homesman2

Determined to find help for those suffering, Swank adds another stellar piece of work to an already remarkable motion picture resume. Swank–and to a much lesser degree Tommy Lee Jones–heroically carried this movie as far as its weak plot allowed…and then she carried it even further. An expected strong performance by Reese Witherspoon in the soon to be released “Wild”, will push one of these actresses out of the Top 5.  Best bet is that Shailene Woodley’s name gets left the Oscar nomination list for Best Actress.

Still a heavy favorite:

6.  Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”) – Look for the Academy Award-winning Witherspoon (for “Walk the Line”) to make a move up this list later in the month after my viewing of “Wild”.  Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed who wrote the book (“Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”) from which this film is based.  Oscar voters enjoy strong, leading characters and Witherspoon gets a full measure in this film, carrying grief and a backpack on her shoulders for a trek of 1,000 miles.  This movie has been well received at film festivals.  Throw in director Jean-Marc Vallee (of Oscar winner “Dallas Buyers Club”) and Witherspoon is teed up nicely for an Academy Award nomination in the Best Actress category.


Since “Wild” has only found limited theaters since last weekend’s release, here’s the preview:

The REEL BRIEF Oscar nomination predictions so far:

Best Actress

1.  Julianne Moore – “Still Alice”

2.  Rosamund Pike – “Gone Girl”

3.  Shailene Woodley – “The Fault in Our Stars”

4.  Felicity Jones – “The Theory of Everything”

5.  Hilary Swank – “The Homesman”

Still a heavy favorite:

6.  Reese Witherspoon – “Wild”


Best Actor – Full write-up here

1. David Oyelowo – “Selma”

2. Eddie Redmayne – “The Theory of Everything”

3. Michael Keaton – “Birdman”

4. Benedict Cumberbatch – “The Imitation Game”

5. Bill Murray – “St. Vincent”

Outside shots

6. Brendan Gleeson – “The Calvary”

7. Timothy Spall – “Mr. Turner”

8. Bradley Cooper – “American Sniper”


Best Picture – Full write-up here

1. “Selma”

2. “Birdman”

3. “The Imitation Game”

4. “Boyhood”

5. “The Theory of Everything”

6. “Gone Girl”

7. “Still Alice”

8. “American Sniper”

9. “Unbroken”

10. “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Outside shot

11. “Interstellar”

Next: REEL BRIEF’s Oscar Watch: Best Supporting Actor.

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