Oscars 2016: Best Actress Analysis

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Pop-Break’s Oscar Watch: Best Actress Analysis

Cate Blanchett (Carol):

Carol poster

Cate Blanchett (Meryl Streep Jr.) is no doubt one of the front runners in this category, as per usual. While Carol didn’t get many nominations, everyone can agree the performances were excellent. As the perfect foil to Rooney Mara’s reserved performance, Blanchett lights up the screen with her exuberance as the title character. What may win her the Oscar though is her versatility in the role. She’s just as compelling playing the downtrodden, vulnerable Carol as she is the excitable, wild Carol. If she didn’t already have two Oscars, this might be a closer race, but Blanchett is the best chance for an upset over Brie Larson.

Chances of Winning: High

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes

Brie Larson (Room):

Other than Best Original Screenplay, this might be the biggest lock of the night. This makes it the third year in a row where this category is a lay up. What is it about Best Actress? Regardless, Brie Larson is a force of nature in Room. Not only is she effective as hell, but it’s the quintessential Oscar bait performance, in a good way. It’s all psychological, as you’re just waiting for this character to crack. Larson balances a fine line between strength and losing it all. This performance is why we give Oscars to actors.

Chances of Winning: High

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes

Jennifer Lawrence (Joy):

Joy Poster

I know the Academy hasn’t been getting a lot of love recently, but I give them a lot of credit for having the stones to nominate Lawrence for this award. With everybody screaming in their faces, “I’M SO SICK OF JENNIFER LAWRENCE,” the Academy said “We don’t care. She deserves it.” And deserve it she does. Jennifer Lawrence does what she does best – command the screen. Every monologue, every action, she always demands your attention, just as she did in David O. Russell’s previous films. Joy might not be as strong as Silver Linings Playbook or American Hustle, but it’s damn good. If you avoided this movie because of the mixed reviews, check it out. I promise you it got a lot of negative reviews simply because of Russell/Lawrence fatigue. If you’re a level headed film fan, you’ll enjoy Lawrence’s continued greatness. As far as her winning this award though, not a chance.

Chances of Winning: Low

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes

Charlotte Rampling (45 Years):

My review for 45 Years is what it is. It’s okay. It’s one of those movies that people feel they need to pump up because it got such little attention. While Rampling’s performance is very good, the script and direction let her down. There’s definitely a few moments that were visually powerful, but Kate Mercer just isn’t a compelling figure to sit with for over 90 minutes. This character needed something more, therefore Rampling can only do so much. I would have loved to of seen Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) get this last spot, but I know that was a long shot.

Brooklyn poster

Chances of Winning: Low

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? No

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn):

Ronan is firmly running third in this category. I guess crazier things have happened, but it will take a lot for her to pull off the upset. The performance is fantastic. Ronan creates the perfect character you want to invest in for two hours. At times she’s scared and shy, but also has a bite to her. The movie does a great job of giving you reasons why other characters want to help her succeed in all things. Ronan flawlessly exudes those traits, and is the reason why Brooklyn works as a superb coming of age story. Slim chance for a win, but a chance nonetheless.

Chances of Winning: Middle of the Pack

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes

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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.

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.