Julianne Moore is just sitting comfortably for the moment. Felicity Jones, Rosamund Pike, and Reese Witherspoon are doing everything they can to unseat her. Emily Blunt landed with “Into the Woods” and she does a great job although her screen time isn’t as hefty as you’d like it to be. She’ll need Hilary Swank, Amy Adams, and Marion Cotillard to not be a thing during the precursors.
AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE
1. Julianne Moore
FOR HER: Sony Pictures has picked up this gem from Toronto that received unanimous praise for Moore. After "Map to the Stars" got pushed back, are they in the mood to reward this veteran?
AGAINST HER: We've been down this road with her before. If they don't see it, they can't vote for it.
2. Felicity Jones
The Theory of Everything
FOR HER: Our hot new actress of the year that delivers a stunning performance. Focus Features backing. British vote will likely go for it.
AGAINST HER: She could go supporting. Will they buy that?
3. Reese Witherspoon
FOR HER: She's been attempting a comeback for some time and teamed up with Jean-Marc Vallee could finally welcome her back to the club.
AGAINST HER: The TIFF buzz has already seemed to fade a bit. She needs a big win (from something like NBR).
4. Rosamund Pike
FOR HER: Readers of the book says she is a fantastic character. They also say she will be the make or break of the film. She is the film's true highlight.
AGAINST HER: There are some who don't LOVE the film. She could be passed over for someone else.
5. Emily Blunt
Into the Woods
FOR HER: After nearly making the cut for "The Young Victoria," and "The Devil Wears Prada," Blunt has a role that showcases her ability as a leading lady.
AGAINST HER: Her screen time isn't as much as you'd like a leading lady to have. She has Swank, Adams, and more to worry about.
THE NEXT FIVE CONTENDERS
6. Amy Adams
FOR HER: She scored her fifth nomination last year for "American Hustle" and many were championing an upset for her, making many aware that she is still Oscar-less. Film has screened and it isn't the catastrophe many were anticipating.
AGAINST HER: There will be a lot of ladies trying to build the overdue narrative this year. It's all about who they go for.
7. Hilary Swank
FOR HER: Has two Oscars. Great reviews from Cannes. Many say that the role is tailor-made for her. Is it her big comeback?
AGAINST HER: The reviews were good but some were muted. Others suggested that some won't get it.
8. Gugu Mbatha-Raw
FOR HER: A breakout of the year, with an added role in "Beyond the Lights." This may get more love than we think.
AGAINST HER: The film was a long time ago. Many not have enough juice to hop the competition that's ahead.
9. Jennifer Aniston
FOR HER: Great notices out of TIFF. A late entry that could shake things up a bit. People may remember her Oscar running for "The Good Girl."
AGAINST HER: New and small company behind this. How far can they get with Aniston in this big race?
10. Marion Cotillard
Two Days, One Night
FOR HER: It's been far too long since Cotillard has been out of the race. This received great praise at Cannes..
AGAINST HER: We've been down this road before with her. She also has "The Immigrant."
OTHER TOP-TIER CONTENDERS
11. Jessica Chastain
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
FOR HER: A layered, beautiful performance that stands out as one of the year's best turns. If all her eggs are in supporting, this could push her to the top in lead.
AGAINST HER: Her film didn't perform as well as Weinstein would have hoped.
12. Jenny Slate
An SNL alum that gives a very rich performance. There are vocal lovers for the work. Golden Globe?
13. Shailene Woodley
The Fault in Our Stars
FOR HER: Nearly made the cut for "The Descendants" and her campaign team say they're going for it with her. This will be a popular inclusion for audiences..
AGAINST HER: When's the last time a YA character, or even a nominee from a film like this came near awards attention?
14. Scarlett Johansson
Under the Skin
FOR HER: Has made a big comeback in terms of respect and prestige films over the past year. With a seemingly open and weaker Best Actress year ahead, this "weirder" choice could make some noise.
AGAINST HER: The film has come and gone in terms of theaters and is already on DVD. They're not kind to sci-fi, especially THIS kind.
15. Keira Knightley
Fantastic in the film, and could be a very strong contender for the Globe. Weinstein backing could help.
16. Anne Hathaway
FOR HER: One year after Sandra Bullock nearly won, is there room for Hathaway to make some headway in a science fiction film?
AGAINST HER: Could be all about the visuals.
17. Marion Cotillard
She's the best part of the film. If "Two Days, One Night" is not accessible or enticing for voters, she could sneak in.
18. Michelle Monaghan
Has continued to deliver in some independent features like "Trucker." This is another example of that great work.
19. Kristen Wiig
The Skeleton Twins
Could be a strong indie darling that starts popping up along the circuit.
20. Mia Wasikowska
Has been working consistently in indie films. Rave reviews from TIFF last year but is in the shadow of Reese Witherspoon for this type of story.
ALSO IN CONTENTION
21 Kristen Stewart – Camp X-Ray
22 Angelina Jolie – Maleficent
23 Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Beyond the Lights
24 Robin Wright – The Congress
25 Jessica Chastain – Miss Julie
26 Helen Mirren – The Hundred Foot Journey
27 Maggie Smith – My Old Lady
28 Emma Stone – Magic in the Moonlight
29 Shirley MacLaine – Elsa & Fred
30 Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Clayton Davis started to write professionally in his sophomore year of college when Johnny Alba, the editor and owner of the old Oscar prediction site, The Oscar Igloo, had an opening for staff writers. Clayton wrote for The Igloo for nearly four years before being appointed editor and revamping and renaming The Oscar Igloo into the now popular mega-site, The Awards Circuit. Since then, Clayton has become a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to awards season show, The Critics Choice Awards. Most recently, Clayton is a now an active member of the International Press Academy, which hosts the popular Satellite Awards as well as the newly integrated Broadcast Television Journalists Association, which hosts the Critics Choice Television Awards. In June 2014 he became the year's first accepted member to New York Film Critics Online. He has been quoted in various outlets (CNN.com, Bloomberg.com, TheWrap.com, AceShowbiz.com, SlashFilm.com, ScottFeinberg.com) and continues to raise the bar for film-talking enthusiasts around the globe.