When the 2014 Academy Awards nominations were announced this year, the Best Actress category contained many worthy nominees but few surprises. The current Best Actress nominees are respected performers with familiar faces, and four of the nominated actresses have already won the Academy Award. With so many excellent performances it seems hard to choose a winner, but one actress stands out as the Oscar favorite. Here’s a look at the Best Actress nominations and my prediction for who will win the Oscar.
2014 Academy Awards Nominations for Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, a veteran performer and one of the greatest actresses of our time, is a Best Actress nominee for her work in “Blue Jasmine.” Blanchett is certainly no stranger to Oscar; she’s earned six Oscar nominations and took home the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for playing Katharine Hepburn to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Howard Hughes in “The Aviator.” She received rave reviews this year for playing Jasmine in Woody Allen’s film that brings to mind the Madoff scandal and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Meryl Streep, arguably our greatest living actress, received yet another Best Actress nomination this year for her tour de force performance in “August: Osage County.” Her showy role as the monstrous mother allowed Streep to steal scenes and chew some scenery; however, she’s often overlooked by Oscar. She holds a record eighteen Academy Award nominations but she’s only won three times: once as Best Supporting Actress for “Kramer vs. Kramer” and twice as Best Actress for “Sophie’s Choice” and “The Iron Lady.”
Judi Dench has had a long and distinguished stage and screen career, and her Oscar nomination for “Philomena” is well deserved. This British performer is brilliant in the title role of a woman looking for the child she gave up years ago. Dench is another perennial Academy Award nominee: she’s had seven nominations for acting but she’s only taken home Oscar gold once, as Best Supporting Actress for “Shakespeare in Love.”
Sandra Bullock earned a Best Actress nomination for her role as an astronaut trying to find a way back to Earth in “Gravity.” Bullock became famous for leading roles in box office hits like “Speed” and “While You Were Sleeping” but her Best Actress win for “The Blind Side” cemented her reputation as a serious actress. With two Best Actress nominations and one Oscar win, Bullock is becoming a frequent nominee like Streep and Blanchett, and we’ll probably see her nominated again.
Amy Adams rounds out the Best Actress category with a nomination for “American Hustle.” This character actress and leading lady has received five Academy Award nominations for films as varied as “Junebug” and “Doubt” but she’s never won an Oscar. Adams showed acting chops playing a ’70s con artist in “American Hustle,” and could this role in a David O. Russell film be her lucky charm? It worked for Jennifer Lawrence, who won Best Actress last year for her work in Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Who Will Win the 2014 Best Actress Oscar?
Judi Dench and Meryl Streep nominated in the same category is like the clash of the acting titans; however, I don’t believe either one has the traction to claim Oscar victory so they’ll cancel each other out at voting time. “August: Osage County” is the kind of “important,” arty film the Academy loves to recognize but it felt overrated, and “Philomena” had a smaller audience so few people saw Dench’s amazing performance.
Sandra Bullock and Amy Adams are building respected acting careers as they aspire to the ranks of Dench and Streep. Bullock stunned with her role in this year’s gripping “Gravity” and Adams added to her reputation as a versatile, skilled actress with her work in “American Hustle.” Amy Adams could be a wild card and the unexpected Oscar winner; however, I don’t believe this will happen, as Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine” has overshadowed Adams and the other actresses in this category.
Hollywood is having a Cate Blanchett moment, and it’s her turn to shine as Best Actress. In previous Hollywood awards seasons, one actress has been singled out as a favorite to win the Best Actress honors at all the important ceremonies. Stars such as Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock and Natalie Portman all won the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards before taking home the Best Actress Academy Award.
Cate is Oscar’s darling for 2014. She’s already swept the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and the Critic’s Choice and this is why I predict Blanchett will win Best Actress on Oscar night. With all that momentum from her previous awards show wins and her credibility as an exceptional film actress, nothing can stop her (not even the Woody Allen scandal).
Besides, the Academy loves to acknowledge actresses who play complex, darkly comedic roles in Woody Allen films (it worked for Academy Award winners such as Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall,” Dianne Wiest in “Hannah and her Sisters” and Penelope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”)
My prediction is Cate Blanchett to win, but with Oscar anything can happen. Can Amy Adams pull off an upset to receive her first Oscar? Watch the Academy Awards on Oscar Sunday March 2, 2014 at 7 p.m. EST on ABC to find out who will take home the Best Actress prize.