I just a brief chat on Twitter with Guy Lodge, Clayton Davis, Ali Deniz Sensoz and a few others as to the Best Actress race. I can’t really write legitimately about it since I haven’t seen the performance that started the conversation. Guy asked whether or not Jennifer Lawrence from the Silver Linings Playbook was on tap to win this year.  I answered him that I thought that, yes, I thought from what I’d heard in Toronto so far that she probably has the best shot. Guy mentioned The Hunger Games being such a phenomenal success, and I added that she also has another potential money maker opening soon, the House at the End of the Street. She will end this year with The Silver Linings Playbook as her slam dunk.

Beautiful stratospheric Lawrence has been hot and getting hotter since she first burst onto the scene with Winter’s Bone. What makes her stand out is that she’s always the actress who gets the best reviews in almost everything she does, but especially The Beaver and Like Crazy.  She has almost every box checked heading into the season:

  • She’s getting rave reviews for The Silver Linings Playbook (think Helen Hunt in As Good as it Gets) and could be that film’s major win, if it doesn’t go all the way.
  • She’s maybe in the top ten of the most fuckable actresses in Hollywood – that will get her lots of votes amid the predominantly hetero white males in the Academy.
  • She’s backed by the Weinstein Co – how many Oscar wins have they had lately?
  • She is sexually loose in the movie – Oscar voters catnip.
  • Wrack ‘em up – she Sandra Bullocked the box office with at least one movie this year, possibly two.
  • She’s always charming and smiling and does publicity — the kind of publicity that gets you awards. Who was at the HFPA thingy this year? Jennifer Lawrence. Who was in Toronto going to parties? Jennifer Lawrence.

So Guy is right on the money with that assessment, I’d say, though I’d really like to see the movie before making a bet on it.

Our conversation eventually turned to the two Sony Pics Classics performances – international, true, but nonetheless memorable – Marion Cotillard in Rust & Bone and Emmanuelle Riva in Amour. I’ve been getting a little shit for pushing Riva, with people saying it’s a long shot, etc. Guy had no such reservations and assured me she has a decent shot.  Cotillard seems also destined to, at least, be in the conversation for her tremendous performance – the second best of her career maybe – in Rust & Bone.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is such a powerfully affecting film that it’s hard to imagine Quvenzhane Wallis will be ignored.  I personally felt that Meryl Streep was just magnificent in Hope Springs, though since she’s just won she might get set on the backburner for now, in preparation for her upcoming work in Osage County.

Finally, new on the scene but someone who will do very well in some of the early critics awards, I gather, will be Greta Gerwig for Frances Ha.  She co-wrote the script, which will likely earn her a Screenplay nod but call me crazy if she doesn’t deserve serious recognition for her performance in Frances Ha.  In many ways, it’s the performance of the year — quietly and unnoticed.

Naomi Watts for The Impossible, Helen Hunt for The Sessions, Keira Knightley for Anna Karenina, I still think Ann Dowd’s shrewd, dark performance in Compliance ought to receive some awards attention somewhere.

Comedy always gets the short shrift come Oscar time – it always feels like a serious “man’s” game, but Jennifer Garner is worth a look in Butter and I’m guessing Leslie Mann might turn up something in This is Forty.

Therefore, if I had to rank them now, I’d go:

1) Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
2) Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
3) Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha
4) Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
5) Marion Cotillard, Rust & Bone
6) Meryl Streep, Hope Springs
7)  Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina
8) Naomi Watts, The Impossible
9) Ann Dowd, Compliance
10) Leslie Mann, This is Forty

This feels like a very sparse list.  I want there to be more contenders.  I hope there will be as we chug through the season but these are the ones currently on my radar.