With early, festival-driven campaigns already ramping up (see: Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”) and sleeper candidates generating buzz (major question marks like Amy Adams in “Big Eyes”), the 2015 Best Actress race is tightening up. Is there room for surprises? Jennifer Aniston hopes so.

Words has arrived through the wire that Cinelou Films’ distribution fledgling Cinelou Releasing has picked up the actress’ dramedy vehicle “Cake” for release before the end of the year. The film played to mixed reviews at September’s Toronto Film Festival, but clearly Cinelou bigwigs Mark Canton and Courtney Solomon see awards potential. A press release indicates that the movie will have a one-week qualifying run in December before rolling out in January.

Based on a blacklisted script by Patrick Tobin and directed by "Phoebe in Wonderland" and "Beastly" director Daniel Barnz, “Cake” follows Claire (Aniston), a divorcee suffering from chronic back pain, the lingering effects of a car accident that left her face scared. Because we live in a world of Murphy’s Law, Claire is also dealing with the suicide of Nina (Anna Kendrick), a friend from her support group, who reappears whenever the woman pops too many pills. Forming a close bond with the deceased’s husband (Sam Worthington), Claire struggles to shake herself out of misery, fearing that she may wind up on the same path as Nina. Adriana Barraza, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Chris Messina, and Britt Robertson costar.

Despite all the tragedy, “Cake” offers laughs courtesy of Aniston’s wry sensibilities. Think “Bad Santa” with Valium instead of booze. A shaky narrative doesn’t help the actress shine at her full potential, but I agree with our own Gregory Ellwood that it’s some of the best acting Aniston has done in years. As he writes:  “The makeup's off, but so are almost all of Aniston's familiar mannerisms we've seen in one studio comedy after another. Aniston makes you believe in Claire's pain. She makes you believe this character is at her lowest point and only she can pull herself out of it. There is no Oscar scene. There is no massive crying fit. It's a complete performance from beginning to end and she deserves the appropriate accolades for it.”

Matt Patches is a writer and reporter based in New York. His work has appeared on Grantland, New York Magazine's Vulture, VanityFair.com, and The Hollywood Reporter. He thinks Groundhog Day is perfect.