It seems wrong to only come to the table with 17 Best Actress contenders for the 2014 Oscars when just yesterday I had a list of 34 potential contenders for Best Actor. But I don't think I'm reporting breaking news when I say there aren't nearly the number of quality leading roles for women and if we go by the numbers here it would seem there are 50% fewer quality leading roles... that almost seems high to me.
Of course, some of you will look at my list and say, "But what about Jessica Chastain in Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His and Hers and Elizabeth Olsen in Therese?" Well, Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is two films, one told from her perspective and the other from his (James McAvoy). I think that pretty much ruins the chances for a nom there. And Olsen is going to run into trouble with a) the film doesn't have distribution and b) she has Oldboy coming out, which she is far more likely to be a contender.
Yes, there are also a few others I could use to pad the list, but right now I just don't see the point until, at the very least, some of the other films start making festival appearances, such as the case with Decoding Annie Parker starring Helen Hunt and Samantha Morton, which was just announced as the opening night film at the Palm Beach Film Festival. Not a huge fest, but it's a start.
As for my top five contenders, well, we aren't talking about a surprise crop of leading ladies...
1.) Naomi Watts (Diana) - After securing a nomination for her screaming and agony in The Impossible, the opportunity for Watts to lead the charge this year as she plays the late Princess of Wales is strong. Of course, we still need a distributor for Diana and some festival movement, but under the direction of Oliver Hirschbiegel I don't believe it's a stretch to consider Watts a strong contender this year for the top spot. Sight unseen... of course.
2.) Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) - Saving Mr. Banks is apparently even more Thompson's film than it is Tom Hanks' and with her talent, four acting Oscar nominations (another for screenwriting, which she won) and one win, it just might be time for Thompson to be a nominee once again, for the first time in 18 years.
3.) Nicole Kidman (Grace of Monaco) - The fact Kidman was so loved for her performance in The Paperboy tells me her chances in a role as Grace Kelly are even that much more improved and the fact Grace of Monaco landed at the Weinstein Co. for distribution is another notch in the belt. However, I just can't help but get a feeling everything might not work out with this one and unfortunately it seems a Cannes appearance isn't in the cards.
4.) Meryl Streep (August: Osage County) - I expect Streep will end up topping most Oscar prediction lists once everyone starts weighing in, but I don't see her taking it this year. While there may not be the 34 contenders in the Best Actress field that I have in the Actor field, this is still a stacked list of ladies and while I have never seen the stage play, the idea of a talky dark comedy filed with anger and tears doesn't spell Oscar win for me as much as it spells Oscar nom, and that might even be questionable as I don't see Streep running the campaign circuit ever again the way she did for The Iron Lady.
5.) Kate Winslet (Labor Day) - I had a tough time with the fifth slot, at one point considering Sandra Bullock (Gravity) and at another Rooney Mara (Ain't Them Bodies Saints). The jury is still out on what Gravity will be and without seeing Ain't Them Bodies Saints it sounds like Mara may fall in the Supporting category. So, I've gone with Kate Winslet for Jason Reitman's Labor Day, which seems the more obvious and "safe" choice at this point.
Like I said, I have 17 total contenders in this field right now and you can check out the rankings on all 17 right here and I look forward to your comments on who you think I may have overlooked and who you believe may be the current front-runners.
And, once again, if you don't have a free RopeofSilicon account you may want to register for one. Later this year, all contenders below the Bubble Line and not among my projected nominees will only be visible to logged in and registered members of the site. So if you haven't registered yet, you may as well do so now. It only takes a second.