Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg was mostly dismissed on Twitter yesterday when he suggested that Naomi Watts could not only get nominated for Best Actress but also might win. But there has been such a groundswell of support, and Watts has gone unrecognized for so long, that she just might become a force to be reckoned with this year. There are several reasons for this – the first is that the two strongest contenders, Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty and Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook are both relatively new on the Oscar scene. Usually you have to built up clout, either Oscar cred (Renee Zellweger) or career cred (Sandra Bullock). Playing Oscar pool year after year, if you’re in it to win it, can eventually land you a win, if the performance is good enough and if you’re likable enough. But just being in a great film that everyone liked isn’t enough.
The model for Jennifer Lawrence winning is probably Gwyneth Paltrow for Shakespeare in Love. A very good performance in a movie everybody liked but let’s face it, voters fell in love with her that year. That’s how she beat Cate Blanchett, the more deserving contender, for Elizabeth. They fell in love with her – critics were waxing dreamy prose about Paltrow’s breasts and good cheer – she is an enthusiastic fan of Shakespeare and the lead character and wants only to be the love of his life and perhaps act on the stage as a woman. A WOMAN! On the public stage!