Julianne Moore is looking strong and Academy screenings have already started for “Still Alice.” The challenger to her throne is Felicity Jones (stunning in “The Theory of Everything”) and Reese Witherspoon (rave reviews for “Wild”). There’s still a shot for Emily Blunt can break into the race for “Into the Woods” and Jessica Chastain will look for a representation somewhere for her stunning year. Could “A Most Violent Year” be it?
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 could showcase her as a full on leading lady.
AGAINST HER: Tough competition ahead as well.
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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. I think it may be time.
AGAINST HER: There will be a lot of ladies trying to build the overdue narrative this year. She will be one of a few. It's all about who they go for.
7. 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."
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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?
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11. 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.
12. Jessica Chastain
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
She's so great in the film, which everyone mostly agrees. She has other films in the mix and the film didn't fair with the critics as well as some had hoped.
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. Jenny Slate
An SNL alum that gives a very rich performance. There are vocal lovers for the work. Golden Globe?
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Beyond the Lights
Great reviews out of TIFF. Got a nomination from the Gotham Awards. Contemporary choice for the Academy?
18. Kristen Stewart
So surprising how fantastic she is in the film. Indie Spirit may come knocking.
19. Michelle Monaghan
Has continued to deliver in some independent features like "Trucker." This is another example of that great work.
20. Robin Wright
It's the performance of her career. A terrific and unique turn that stands out. Will they go for this type of performance that's half animated? Sadly, I think not.
ALSO IN CONTENTION
21 Kristen Wiig - The Skeleton Twins
22 Mia Wasikowska – Tracks
23 Keira Knightley - Begin Again
24 Helen Mirren – The Hundred Foot Journey
25 Angelina Jolie – Maleficent
26 Maggie Smith – My Old Lady
27 Greta Gerwig – The Humbling
28 Reese Witherspoon – The Good Lie
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.