The annual complaint about Best Actress being a less competitive field than that of their male counterparts is perhaps more believable at this early predictive stage when scoping out potential contenders – It's no less false, it's just that the great, underrated female performances of the year haven't even been seen yet. Still, you don't have to look far to find a whole bunch of leading ladies that show a lot of promise for their upcoming films.
Jennifer Lawrence, by virtue of being Hollywood's 'it' girl, must always be considered for awards attention, especially when reuniting with the likes of David O. Russell, who directed her to two consecutive Oscar nods (plus one win). In Joy, she plays single-mom-turned-entrepreneur Joy Mangano. Has AMPAS tired of J-Law yet, or will her star power coupled with the end-of-year release of the final Hunger Games instalment provide her with enough momentum to earn nomination #4?
One hopeful whose performance has already been seen and highly praised at Sundance is Saoirse Ronan for her work in the romantic drama Brooklyn. Unlike other child actors who fall into obscurity after enjoying early Oscar success, Ronan's career since her Best Supporting Actress nod for Atonement has been brimming with interesting projects and quality work. Feels like the time is right for her second nomination.
Not be counted out of this discussion as well are Sandra Bullock, Marion Cotillard, Carey Mulligan, Emma Stone, Alicia Vikander, and Naomi Watts, just a few of the names that we might see in the mix.
And what of the supporting women? We had a bumper crop of contenders last year, and hopefully this year can live up to it.
There's the aforementioned Rooney Mara in Carol, but she's not the only entrant co-starring in a lesbian drama. Ellen Page has a shot of revisiting the awards fray as Julianne Moore's dying partner in Freeheld, the dramatization of an Oscar-winning short documentary.
Other supporting ladies with irons in the fire include Kristen Stewart (who just won a Cesar for Clouds of Sils Maria), Katherine Waterston, Amy Ryan, and Julie Walters, just to name a handful.
Cate Blanchett Carol
Jennifer Lawrence Joy
Saoirse Ronan Brooklyn
Meryl Streep Ricki and the Flash
Lily Tomlin Grandma
Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara Carol
Ellen Page Freeheld
Kristen Stewart Clouds of Sils Maria
Katherine Waterston Steve Jobs