The Best Actress is quickly becoming saturated with a number of past winners and nominees.
Cate Blanchett is the front runner to win the award this year as her performance in "Blue Jasmine" has been universally praised. As many pundits argue, the fact that director Woody Allen has led many actresses to win Oscars, such as Penelope Cruz, bodes well for Blanchett's chances. Additionally, based on the box office and reviews the film has obtained, it is hard to ignore that Blanchett will definitely get nominated and could potentially win.
Another actress who just received universal praise at the Venice Film festival is Dame Judi Dench for her work in "Philomena." The actress has long been absent from awards season and this role promises to be a memorable one. With a campaign from the Weinstein Company, Dench is likely to get the nomination.
Also coming off great reviews at Venice is Sandra Bullock for "Gravity." The actress, who practically leads the film, may have a hard time distinguishing herself amidst the special effects and the technology in the film, but if reviews continue to be good, the Academy is sure to remember her performance.
Kate Winslet also looks to return for an awards bid for her work in "Labor Day." While the film opened to mixed reaction in Telluride, Winslet's performance was praised.
Two performances that are also seeing buzz include Emma Thompson's work in "Saving Mr. Banks" and Amy Adam's performance in "American Hustle." However, neither film has been screened, so it's too early to predict anything.
A number of actresses are still question marks depending on releases and if certain performances disappoint. Brie Larson's turn in "Short Term 12" was praised but the film is too small and may be overlooked, while Greta Gerwig's role in "Frances Ha" may be too eccentric for the traditional taste of the Academy. Berenice Bejo's award-winning performance in "The Past" could be harmed because it's French; as many recall, Marion Cotillard was overlooked in 2012 for "Rust and Bone" because the performance was in a foreign language as well.
Speaking of Cotillard, her work in "The Immigrant" received buzz at the Cannes Film Festival, but Radius TWC has yet to announce a release date, potentially leaving her out of the race. Julie Delpy could get a nomination for "Before Midnight," but will have to count on a good campaign, while Shailene Woodley ("The Spectacular Now") will have to count on the Academy letting go of its bias against high school dramas.
Australian best friends Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman will have to count on good reviews. Watts' performance for "Diana" was once seen as a front runner, but after some negative first critical reactions it seems her Oscar bid is over. Meanwhile, Kidman's film "Grace of Monaco" has yet to be screened but the Cannes preview for the movie was met with tepid reactions.
The last contender is Julia Roberts for "August: Osage County." Roberts has an uphill battle because if the Academy does not think Meryl Streep is a supporting actress, then Streep is likely to get the nomination over Roberts in the Best Lead Actress race.
Longshots include Felicty Jones for "The Invisible Woman," Amanda Seyfried for "Lovelace," Scarlet Johansson for "Under the Skin," Kidman for "The Railway Man" and Tilda Swinton for "Only Lover Left Alone."
The race is shaping up but after the festival circuit there will be a better picture of which actresses are definite contenders.
1. Cate Blanchett - "Blue Jasmine"
2. Sandra Bullock - "Gravity"
3. Kate Winslet - "Labor Day"
4. Judi Dench - "Philomena"
5. Amy Adams - "American Hustle"
6. Julia Roberts - "August Osage County"
7. Emma Thompson - "Saving Mr. Banks"
8 Brie Larson - "Short Term 12"
9. Nicole Kidman - "Grace of Monaco"
10. Berenice Bejo - "The Past"
11. Marion Cotillard - "The Immigrant"