I’m struggling to list 40 names at this point. I’ve switched Julianne Moore from Supporting to Lead because it looks like it can go that way. Unfortunately, it could result in another loss for the four-time nominee unless Oscar is in a career rewarding mood. Rosamund Pike and Amy Adams look like the unwritten narrative of the season with Jessica Chastain being a spoiler given everyone fixates on just one of her performances. We could also have Felicity Jones or Keira Knightley make a switch to Lead 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. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Julianne Moore
Map to the Stars
FOR HER: Won Best Actress at Cannes. An Oscar for her has been a long road coming. They may see that this year.
AGAINST HER: This always seems to happen. We get excited for a possible Moore Oscar speech and then they pass. Campaigning will be crucial. Could go supporting.
THE NEXT FIVE CONTENDERS
6. 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.
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. 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.
9. 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."
10. 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.
OTHER TOP-TIER CONTENDERS
11. Jessica Chastain
Trailer looked good and she has a stacked year ahead. Something's got to give, right?
12. Maggie Smith
My Old Lady
Barely missed the cut for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and continues to deliver good work.
13. 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").
14. Kirsten Dunst
The Two Faces of January
I THOROUGHLY believe she was very close for "Melancholia." Will it ever be her time?
15. 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."
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. Helen Mirren
The Hundred Foot Journey
Reviews were decent for her. Will they remember this summer release?
18. Shailene Woodley
The Fault in Our Stars
Benefiting from a weaker competition. Fanboys and girls will be screaming for this one.
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. 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.
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.