Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Actress - No reason for Blanchett to be 'Blue'
In the lead-up to the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2, HitFix will be bringing you the lowdown on all 24 Oscar categories with multiple entries each day. Take a few notes and bone up on the competition as we give you the edge in your office Oscar pool!
After Oscar history was made last year when the Best Supporting Actor race fielded five former winners, it looked for the longest time as if this year's Best Actress category might follow suit. Happily, a late surge for "American Hustle" prevented such an outcome, but only just: this year's category features four former winners and one still-uncrowned darling of the actors' branch, with 38 nominations and six Oscars between them. Given that pedigree, you'd expect this to be a pretty feisty contest, right? Er... not so much.
The nominees are...
Amy Adams, "American Hustle"
If you were evaluating this race on paper, Amy Adams would look like an easy frontrunner: she's a well-liked five-time nominee still awaiting her first win, the only woman in her category without an Oscar, and delivers a grand, sexy, shape-shifting turn in one of the year's most-nominated Best Picture contenders. Some have taken issue with the performance, but I think it's crafty, layered work that balances Sydney Prosser's multitude of facades -- some calculated, some subconscious -- with great flair, referencing and recalling Barbara Stanwyck's immortal screwball turn in "The Lady Eve." Perhaps if the film stuck with her more in its second half, or if that ensemble weren't so crammed with flashy star turns, she'd be more of a favorite. As it is, the comedy Golden Globe winner will have to settle for fifth bridesmaid finish. (Check out our interview with Adams here.)
Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"
Not that there's any shame in losing to Blanchett -- as indomitable a frontrunner as this category has seen since Helen Mirren in "The Queen." Blanchett's ferocious, Blanche DuBois-inspired turn as a fallen society belle in Woody Allen's acclaimed tragicomedy was hailed as the likely victor when the film premiered way back in the summer, and she hasn't vacated the top spot since, winning the bulk of the critics' awards, as well as a drama Globe, SAG and BAFTA. It's a tremendously deserving performance, but the love-in is also a "welcome back" gesture of sorts: with the Australian having occupied herself principally with theater work in Sydney for the last few years, this is the first feature she's headlined solo since 2007's "Elizabeth: The Golden Age." General consensus is that 2004's Supporting Actress win wasn't sufficient for one of the most lauded actors of her generation; whispers of the ongoing Woody Allen controversy denting her chances reek of pundits desperate for a new angle. (Check out our interview with Blanchett here.)
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
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