This is a category that can be inventive at times, even citing two women from the same film consistently. But let’s get real, this is still the Oscars. With “Boyhood” becoming a critical smash, I think Patricia Arquette could become a fine representation for the film throughout the season, especially if they’re not in the mood to reward it with Best Picture. The hot ladies are in full force to compete. Felicity Jones is someone that could factor depending on where they campaign her. The ladies of “Into the Woods” are also strong possibilities and could be insanely popular with voters and audiences. Carmen Ejogo could be our breakout star of the year as Coretta Scott King. Have a sneaking suspicion about her. Keira Knightley, Emma Stone, and Jennifer Garner are also wildcards. It’s going to be very interesting.
AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE
1. Patricia Arquette
FOR HER: She takes on much of the emotion of the film on herself. She could be a great representation for the film.
AGAINST HER: The film is smaller and rather ambitious and the Academy has been known to ignore those types of films unfortunately. The campaign will be key.
2. Felicity Jones
The Theory of Everything
FOR HER: With roles in "Like Crazy" and "The Invisible Woman," Jones has shown that she is an incredible talent. With a co-lead role, supporting may offer an opportunity to gain recognition.
AGAINST HER: If she is a co-lead, that doesn't mean Oscar will buy it. Look at Scarlett Johansson in "Lost in Translation."
3. Emily Blunt
Into the Woods
FOR HER: With performances like "The Devil Wears Prada," "The Young Victoria," and "Looper" under her belt, it's surprising this hasn't happened yet. A lead-ish role in supporting could do the trick.
AGAINST HER: Will they buy the campaign? The role was nominated Lead at the Tonys.
4. Anna Kendrick
Into the Woods
FOR HER: Previous nominee for "Up in the Air" and continues to consistently deliver in blockbusters like "Pitch Perfect." This could be a winning ticket for her based on the role.
AGAINST HER: Internal competition, namely Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt who could both swing in this category.
5. Carmen Ejogo
FOR HER: Playing Coretta Scott King is a massive opportunity for attention. The supportive wife is an Academy favorite.
AGAINST HER: How big will the role be? Will the Academy go for the film?Just lots of questions with no answers yet.
THE NEXT FIVE CONTENDERS
6. Keira Knightley
The Imitation Game
FOR HER: Is in quite a bit of films this year. This Weinstein film could be her ticket to nomination #2.
AGAINST HER: Too many films can be overkill or cause a vote split.
7. Jessica Chastain
A Most Violent Year
FOR HER: Another interesting role that Chastain may be able to sink her teeth into (based on the rumors). It looks to be her year again.
AGAINST HER: Too many roles, especially if they're all good, will leave the Academy confused on a choice.
8. Emma Stone
FOR HER: The film looks like an interesting mix of drama and weirdness. With the Cameron Crowe film out of the picture, is this her chance?
AGAINST HER: Naomi Watts, if she's a standout.
9. Vanessa Redgrave
FOR HER: Veteran actress that has continued to prove, up until recently, that she's still got it. Watch "Atonement" for an example. Word out of Cannes was positive.
AGAINST HER: The focus seems to be about the boys. She could be left on the sidelines.
10. Jennifer Garner
Men, Women, & Children
FOR HER: People who have read the book say she has a substantial part. Reitman gets some great work out of his actresses.
AGAINST HER: Internal competition.
OTHER TOP-TIER CONTENDERS
11. Laura Dern
Has this, "The Fault in Our Stars" and "99 Homes." She's a busy lady these days.
12. Judy Greer
Men, Women, & Children
The standout of films like "The Descendants" had her ignored. Is it her time?
13. Imelda Staunton
The near winner for "Vera Drake" is back and said to be the standout in this comedy.
14. Shohreh Aghdashloo
The "repeat" by the magazine that went back in time had voters choose her over Renee Zellweger. That has nothing to do with this but there's some respect for her out there still.
15. Jane Fonda
This is Where I Leave You
This Oscar-winner doing something funny and sexy. The old men could be drooling.
16. Katherine Waterston
Early word is positive for her of the ladies in the film.
17. Kristen Stewart
The Clouds of Sils Maria
The Cannes reception was good and she's proven herself before in films like "Into the Wild." Is she putting her stardom to good use?
18. Suzanne Clément
This Foreign film could make some noise. Call this a wildcard.
19. Anne Hathaway
Cause somebody has to breakthrough in supporting. Could be her.
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.