2013 Oscar Predictions: Chastain Threatens Lawrence's Front-Runner Status in Best Actress Race

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
Photo: Columbia Pictures

The race for Best Actress finally has some heat as presumptions Jessica Chastain was a major contender for her role in Zero Dark Thirty seem to have been confirmed, which means Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) has some competition to contend with, and perhaps will soon find herself in the runner-up role.

I have yet to see Zero Dark Thirty but that will all be changing soon enough, which is why Chastain sits in the #2 slot rather than at #1 right now. I need to see the film for myself before buying into the hype and replacing Lawrence at #1, a position she has held since Silver Linings premiered in Toronto back in September. That said, the competition between the two is an interesting one, with Chastain playing the stoic CIA agent versus Lawrence, as a troubled widow in a comedic drama. Many will surely look at the more serious role as the one deserving of the award, overlooking just how effective Lawrence is in Silver Linings. I say this, of course, not having seen Zero Dark, but human nature is pretty easy to predict, even if the Oscars always aren't.

In third, Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) remains a safe bet, but beyond that things get a little tougher, especially with a new addition to the fray.

First we must consider Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone) and Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), both of which give two of the best performances of the year, but can two foreign language nominees find their way in? I previously had Helen Mirren at #4 for Hitchcock but reviews on that film haven't been entirely ecstatic and with Chastain moving into the top five something had to give.

Then there's Naomi Watts (The Impossible), whom many pundits are trying to push, which actually has me believing her chances are diminishing and it appears Keira Knightly and Anna Karenina are going to have to be happy with craft nominations as the majors seem unlikely at this point.

Then we get to the new addition to the list of contenders.

Emayatzy Corinealdi (Middle of Nowhere) was just nominated for an Indie Spirit Award and won Breakthrough Actor at the Gotham Awards over Wallis. I finally had a chance to see the film and Corinealdi does give a great performance, but it's a film and a performance that is going to depend on more early season buzz and wins to gain enough attention for the Academy to stand up and take notice. It doesn't have a major studio backing its Oscar push, which always makes things tough... the situation reminds me of all the love Michelle Williams was getting for Wendy and Lucy only to find Oscilloscope couldn't drum up enough buzz for her to become a major contender. Will Corinealdi be able to break through?

As of now my top five looks like this:

  1. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
  2. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
  3. Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  4. Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
  5. Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

It's a strong field of performances for sure and you can see my full field of eleven contenders and where they rank right here.

  • Casper12

    Oh please don't! Jennifer deserves it.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Aleonardis/ Aleonardis

    The SAG nominations are going to be a HUGE indicator.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

    My picks are:
    Jessica Chastain
    Marion Cotillard
    Jennifer Lawrence
    Helen Mirren
    Quvenzhane Wallis

    I am having trouble seeing Amour breaking through the ranks

  • MajorFilmFan

    2012 has been Lawrence's year, with The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook. And as phenomenal as she is in Silver Linings, she deserves it. Chastain is an intreaguing addition, and gives Lawrence some worthy competition. That said, come Oscar night, I do think it will be Jennifer Lawrence walking away with Best Actress, and not Chastain

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    I still think not having Judi Dench (for Best Exotic) anywhere on your list is a big mistake. Like it or not, the Academy absolutely adores her (though admittedly not enough to nominate her for any of her Bond performances), and she's never won the lead award. I think at least one of either her or Mirren will be nominated, if not both. I can't see Riva getting in just because the film will be too obscure, and I'm not sold on Cotillard's chances either (just based on my knowledge of the Academy, not my opinion of her performance. I haven't seen the film yet, but I'm really looking forward to it). Wallis, Chastain, and Lawrence all but seem like locks at this point, but I still think Lawrence is too young and too early in her career to win. Yes I know there are exceptions, but that's just how I see it.

    I do think it's a shame that Winstead is so low. I can't argue with her placement, but hers is my favorite performance of the year so far. I thought Lawrence was too intense at times, and I didn't really care for her character at all. But I thought Winstead gave a perfectly measured performance, only occasionally breaking into drunken outbursts, and I think she's one of the most sympathetic and compelling characters I've seen all year. And really, Smashed is one of the better films I've seen all year. It sucks that it's hardly getting any play at all when Flight, a much worse film that treads the same ground, has been such a hit. But such is the nature of Hollywood I suppose.

  • The Dude

    I have a buddy who saw Zero Dark Thirty and loved it, and hated Silver Linings, but says there is no way Chastain will beat Lawrence. He said there's not really a lot to Chastain's character and that she doesn't have many scene where she really gets to emote, which doesn't bode well for a Best Actress win. This has been Lawrence's since the second Silver Linings premiered in Toronto. Nothing has changed.

  • http://cinesnatch.blogspot.com Vince Smetana

    five of dench's six nods were assisted by Harvey Weinstein. When I realized this, I was less confident in dench's chances.

    Brad's list looks solid, though I'm hesitant to remove mirren. She really is quite good--the best thing about the middling venture by far. With $10m and some awards traction, the AMPAS love her enough they might just put her in. I still say she takes out one of the French ladies. But I might be whistling a different tune soon.

    Brad is so wise to keep chastain at #2. I believe that is where she remains even if she gets the drama globe. If Loretta could best Alex Forrest ... I have no problem putting my weight behind Tiffany over maya.

    I don't see maya winning.

  • Genadijus

    And if it happens that votes will split between Jessica and Jennifer..? Who can be that unexpected winner? Naomi? Helen? Marion?

  • http://cinemaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

    SAG Noms Prediction:

    Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
    Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
    Naomi Watts ( The Impossible)
    Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
    Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

    Oscar Noms [Obviously it's very difficult for 2 foreign actress to break through]

    Naomi Watts ( The Impossible)
    Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
    Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
    Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
    Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

  • http://cinemaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

    "Then there's Naomi Watts (The Impossible), whom many pundits are trying to push, which actually has me believing her chances are diminishing"

    Brad, please elaborate on this statement. If many pundits are pushing it, doesn't it mean her chances are only going to improve. Or do you mean the opposite, many pundits are pushing it because they are afraid she won't get nominated.

    Even if you mean the later, doesn't it mean that Watts' performance has some ardent supporters which will only benefit her in long run because they are going to keep the buzz alive. I am not sure how does that diminish her chances.

  • steandric

    -what does a 22-year old starlet who has yet to learn how to act and pay her dues deserve?

    - so a CIA agent is a serious role one deserving of the award. Didn't we have one last year that was overlooked, underrated, taken for granted and put aside, then ignored, dismissed and snubbed? Valerie Plame.

    - aren't pundits like the so-called film critics, golden gurus especially the canucks, Wsteins, and the small-circle bottom feeders pushing a young fantasy darling starlet right from the beginning and another not too young fantasy darling starlet right just now? and if so why aren't their chances diminishing?

    Crappy jokes, jokes, jokes.

    • Mark I

      "pay her dues"
      WTF does that mean idiot? She's been acting since she was 15 years old; handily carried the first movie she ever appeared in (The Poker House), earned an Oscar nod at 20 for a film she made when she 18/19 years old (Winter's Bone); carried a big franchise film to over $400 million (Hunger Games) and has been getting raves for SLP.
      Steandric....I've seen your comments on IMDB and here....keep spouting off and showing people how stupid you are, and it won't change the fact that come January, Jennifer Lawrence will have earned her second Best Actress nod (the youngest to do so).

  • LB

    Some reviews barely mention Chastain, and the rest praise her while acknowledging she's not given much in the way of character to play, however no one can review SLP without gushing about Lawrence whether they like the movie or not. JL's performance is so good you can't see anyone else in that role, and she's the only actress I can remember seeing butting horns with an all guns blazing De Niro and winning.

    • Bill

      Zero is being pushed by Obama circle since they want to keep fresh the idea of Obama did a very good job for terrorism, the movie is boring and Chastain looks like medicated, who can kill someone with that low energy, she looks like a bored bank teller never like a CIA agent.

  • http://cinesnatch.blogspot.com Vince Smetana

    Sandra Bernhard?

    • LB

      Thank you Vince, absolutely Sandra Bernhard, how could I forget!

  • Topy

    When was the last time the Best Actress race didn't have Meryl Streep in it?

    • http://www.seensome.com SeenSome

      2011, the nominees were Portman, Bening, Williams, Kidman and Lawrence.

  • Camilla

    do not manipulate information, Naomi Watts chances diminishing?? I guess Lawrence is diminishing since her movie is making a very poor Box Office, Chastain is a temporary option

  • stella

    Chastain was over-the-top. A similar CIA agent character hunting for something, I would say last year Naomi Watts playing Valerie Plame was much more subtle, managed yet powerful and rewarding. Nobody cared though, and routinely ignored and dismissed by the same bunch of gurus who are now apoplectic over yet another starlet, making it a good pair of fantasy darling.

    • Bill

      Anyone can look more powerful than Chastain, she looks like someone lost in the dessert with amnesia,

      • Franco

        According with her expressions you do not know if she is going to take a nap or get a shower but really she does not look as she is going to kill Osama.
        Obama must be crossing his finger expecting the movie get nominations, I do not think this movie will have a good performance at the box office.

        • Victoria

          Chastain is going to kill audience of a terrible boredom attack, she is a weapon of mass destruction...I guess Zero is another white point of view of orient, first Argo and no Zero (0), US is the hero incarnated in this read hear ghost

  • FrankBowers

    Best sharply observed performance since Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday"

    The camera loves Lawrence's eyes like Hepburn in
    Roman Holiday." The feel-good movie of 2012. DeNiro a shoo-in for
    Best Supporting actor.

    • Franco

      to compare Hepburn with Lawrence is a joke, Hepburn had royalty blood and Lawrence is extremely vulgar

  • Bill

    Academy do not award romantic comedies...
    I guess Weinstein and Obama are pushing both Lawrence and Chastain respectably, one as producer and the other to use Zero as political propaganda but with bad results because SLP is being a looser at the box office and the same or worst will be with Zero

  • andrew

    I agree it's an insult to legendary Audrey Hepburn with that comparison. Actually to set the record right what the camera loves is not Lawrence's eyes but her ass which she "acts" and that's the reason why there is so much ass-buzzing going on for her.

  • Franco

    but according with the pictures of her in a beach that ass is in bad shape ha ha