Oscar Watch 2015: Best Actress

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Best Actress Analysis: A Breakdown by Pop-Break’s Film Editor

Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

Other than The Lego Movie’s snub, Cotillard’s nomination was probably the biggest surprise of the day, as many felt Jennifer Aniston deserved that last spot.  I can’t say I saw Cake, but I did find the one theater in America that played Two Days, One Night.  Cotillard’s performance is legit.  She completely carries the film, playing a desperate mom who’s on the verge of losing her job unless she can convince her co-workers to give up their bonuses.  It’s one of those performances where I’d be hard-pressed to imagine anyone else in the role.  Is Jennifer Aniston’s performance better?  It certainly could be, but Cotillard’s nomination is still justified, so get over it.  Having said all that, she has no chance of winning.

Chances of Winning: Low 

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Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes 

Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)

All the attention is on Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Stephen Hawking, but just as I thought Keira Knightley was the more stand out role over Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, I feel the same way about Jones here.  In an otherwise mediocre film, Jones carries the weight of the world on her shoulders.  At times, her character is even more interesting to watch, as she struggles with her own patience at dealing with her husband’s disease.  Jones has a very slim chance of winning, but it would be quite the upset.

Chances of Winning: Mid-Tier 

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes 

Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Aside from J.K. Simmons, this could very well be the lock of the night.  There are so many factors working in Julianne Moore’s favor.  She’s been around forever, the character is deeply sympathetic, and the performance is that good.  I personally don’t think it’s as good as Reese Witherspoon or Rosamund Pike, but she definitely has a couple gut-wrenching moments where you can see the Oscar dancing in the background.  Moore is going to be extremely difficult to bring down.

Chances of Winning: High 

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes 

Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

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Best Actress is the one category where Gone Girl did not get snubbed, and rightfully so.  In terms of the most challenging and intricately crafted performance, Pike probably leads all other nominees in that area.  I know everybody believed Pike to be the front-runner for months, but I never did.  As part of the film blog/movie podcast culture, we just assume a dark performance like this is a shoe in at the Oscars.  Maybe it was 10-15 years ago, but not today.  The Academy is going to be turned off by how cold and deadpanned this character is, and judging by the lack of nominees for Gone Girl everywhere else, the film clearly did not resonate with voters.  Pike certainly has an outside shot, but I actually have her third in the race right now.

Chances of Winning: Mid-Tier

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes 

Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

This would be my pick.  Witherspoon has always been a great actress, but in Wild she gave such a raw, gritty performance, something I wasn’t sure she was capable of.  The character is completely 100% engaging.  If she didn’t already have an Oscar this race would be a lot closer, but if someone is going to upset Julianne Moore, Witherspoon is your best bet.

Chances of Winning: High

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes 

See who wins the Oscar for Best Actress on the Academy Awards telecast live on February 22nd on ABC.

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Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.
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Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.