There have been several years where filling out the lead actress category has been a struggle. This is no knock on the Hollywood actress, but an indictment of the system and the fact that female actors have been short changed when it comes to strong roles. This year, familiar faces should fill up the category. Meryl Streep should be here for her performance as the feisty matriarch in August: Osage County. Along with her is Dame Judi Dench for her heartfelt interpretation in Philomena. Beyond these two staples of Oscar night, the field is loaded with familiar faces who all deserve a nomination.
I expect Sandra Bullock to get a nod for her physical performance in Gravity, and I am optimistic than Julie Delpy will be recognized for her honest and stripped down portrayal in Before Midnight. However, the field is too crowded for her, and Cate Blanchett will get this nomination for Blue Jasmine. This leaves one final spot. Amy Adams should get recognized for American Hustle, but so should Delpy. I think Delpy will be on the outside looking in, as Adams nails down the fifth nomination.
Meryl Streep - August: Osage County
Judi Dench - Philomena
Sandra Bullock - Gravity
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Amy Adams - American Hustle
As solid as the lead actress category is this year, lead actor is once again absolutely overloaded with great performances and deserving candidates. You could almost say there are more than five "locks" in this category, which is obviously impossible. At the top of the list you have the brave and searing performances of Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave and Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club. These two should fight it out in the ballot box. But don't count out America's best friend, Tom Hanks, who gives his best performance in a decade with Captain Phillips.
That leaves two spots, and so many qualified candidates. I fully expected Robert Redford to be nominated for his harrowing one man show in All is Lost. And Bruce Dern should get a nod for Nebraska. But does this mean Leonardo DiCaprio is out once again? If he takes anyone's spot, it's Redford's, and I think the Academy will make this choice simply because Leo deserves it for his role and for the career he has assembled as one of our finest actors. Beyond this, there is Oscar Isaac for Inside Llewyn Davis, Christian Bale for American Hustle, and a half dozen other well-deserving candidates. Unfortunately, there are only five slots...
Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club
Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips
Bruce Dern - Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street