Lots of moving parts here and lots of ladies that could get delayed until next year. There’s word that Rosamund Pike will DEFINITELY go Lead in “Gone Girl” and Meryl Streep is the definitive LEAD in “Into the Woods” moving Emily Blunt to supporting. Big names on the table remain Amy Adams (“Big Eyes”), Jessica Chastain (“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” or “Miss Julie”), Reese Witherspoon (“Wild” or “The Good Lie”), and Michelle Williams (“Suite Francaise”). I think love will bleed from Cannes to America for Anne Dorval (“Mommy”) and Marion Cotillard, though her ticket looks to be “MacBeth” if it comes out this year. There’s still a possibility that Julianne Moore (“Map to the Stars”) and Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything”) can pop up in a lead campaign as well.
AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE
1. 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.
2. Jessica Chastain
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
FOR HER: After losing momentum due to controversy surrounding "Zero Dark Thirty," Chastain has another huge year ahead of her, all potentially offering Oscar prospects. The Cannes noise for this performance was deafening.
AGAINST HER: Vote split with herself.
3. Michelle Williams
FOR HER: Williams has become a force to reckoned with in nearly every film she touches. She's proven to be a talent that the Academy may soon want to reward.
AGAINST HER: If this film falters, she may not be able to overcome the reviews à la "My Week with Marilyn."
4. Marion Cotillard
FOR HER: It's THE role in Shakespeare's play. This is something that Cotillard could just eat up.
AGAINST HER: It's still not confirmed if this will come out this year. We have to wait it out.
5. 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.
AGAINST HER: There's still a chance she could swing supporting. Thrillers are tough sells in acting categories.
THE NEXT FIVE CONTENDERS
6. Anne Dorval
FOR HER: This Cannes winner received great notices for Dorval. An unknown foreign performer can often make noise.
AGAINST HER: No release date set yet. Could sit this one out. Also, it's a foreign performance. Let's be serious when it comes to Oscar.
7. 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: We've been down this road with her before and we're always let down. I'll wait for reviews.
8. Nicole Kidman
Queen of the Desert
FOR HER: Nicole Kidman continues to take on challenging roles for herself, even when they're not popular or well-received. This Werner Herzog film that's playing at TIFF could get her another nomination (depending on reviews).
AGAINST HER: Seems small. Needs to be a "can't ignore her" performance like "Rabbit Hole."
9. Meryl Streep
Into the Woods
FOR HER: The Queen of Oscar continues to get juicy roles and be nominated even when critics aren't fully on her side. This is another opportunity to add to her arsenal.
AGAINST HER: They take Meryl breaks every now and again.
10. 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.
OTHER TOP-TIER CONTENDERS
11. Carey Mulligan
Last minute contender to breakthrough. It's weird she hasn't capitalized on her first Oscar nomination yet, though she's been worthy ("Shame").
12. Scarlett Johansson
Under the Skin
Early year performer that many loved and respected. There's a narrative building that she's long overdue.
13. Helen Mirren
The Hundred Foot Journey
She breaks through even her film is nowhere near attempting to ("The Last Station" and ALMOST "Hitchcock"). This Disney push is getting solid notices.
14. Cate Blanchett
One year after steamrolling the awards season for "Blue Jasmine," this sounds like another big contender from Todd Haynes. Will it be released in time?
15. Maggie Smith
My Old Lady
Barely missed the cut for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and continues to deliver good work.
16. Marion Cotillard
Two Days, One Night
Good notices from Cannes but no nominations following "La Vie En Rose" despite "Public Enemies," "Nine," and "Rust & Bone."
17. Charlize Theron
Another Gillian Flynn adaptation that may get overshadowed by "Gone Girl."
18. Jessica Chastain
Trailer looked good and she has a stacked year ahead. Something's got to give, right?
19. Kate Winslet
A Little Chaos
She's Kate Winslet and Oscar loves her. I'd say she has one or two more nominations left in her and MAYBE another win.
20. Kirsten Dunst
The Two Faces of January
I THOROUGHLY believe she was very close for "Melancholia." Will it ever be her time?
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.