By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As the Oscar ceremony approaches and our picks in the actor races are already a matter of record, let’s handicap the slates of nominees in the races for best supporting actress and best actress, both of which quickly assumed the shape of four also-rans chasing after one can’t-miss winner.  We’ll see.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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For Laura Dern, who plays Cheryl Strayed’s beloved mother in Wild, it’s a welcome second trip to Oscar’s red carpet over two decades later, with only a remote chance to win.  But, so what?

Keira Knightley, playing the real-life colleague and confidant of Alan Turing during World War II, the only woman on the team that broke the Enigma code in The Imitation Game, is also a second-time nominee, happy to be included and sharing Dern’s tall odds against victory.

Oscar perennial Meryl Streep, on the other hand, gets her astonishing, record-setting nineteenth nomination for her youth-worshipping witch in the musical Into the Woods, even if it comes more as a result of her reputation and body of consummate work than for this particular outing.

A newcomer on the slate is Emma Stone, who plays the protagonist’s forthright daughter and assistant in Birdman, holding her own and then some against fellow nominees Michael Keaton and Edward Norton.

But the odds-on favorite, also a first-timer, is Patricia Arquette, as the loving and struggling mother who reinvents herself over the course of 12 years in Boyhood, turning in an assured, career-best performance.

So:
COULD WIN: Emma Stone
SHOULD WIN: Patricia Arquette
WILL WIN: Patricia Arquette

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BEST ACTRESS

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The best actress category may have the most locked-in winner in any major Oscar category.  But first to the other nominees…

Previous Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard returns, playing a laid-off factory worker fighting to save her job in the Belgian drama, Two Days, One Night.  But this time receiving a nomination for a foreign-language film will have to suffice as the accomplishment.

Eddie Redmayne certainly has the showier role as theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, but Felicity Jones announces her arrival at center stage by matching him from start to finish as the grounded but forceful and dedicated Jane Wilde, who would become his first wife.

Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon returns to the Oscar showdown after a decade as real-life Cheryl Strayed, who, after her mother’s death, hiked over a thousand miles by herself in Wild, in a self-assured, down-to-earth performance that finds her on screen by herself much of the time.  But Oscar number two is out of reach.

And Brit Rosamund Pike breaks through to another level playing the embittered, resourceful, revenge-seeking wife in Gone Girl, in a showy turn that won’t bring an Oscar but will get her all kinds of future parts.

But this one belongs in no uncertain terms to Julianne Moore, whose nightmarish portrayal of a linguistics professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice is authentic, gripping, and downright heartbreaking.

So:
COULD WIN: (forget it.)
SHOULD WIN: Julianne Moore
WILL WIN: Julianne Moore
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NEXT: Which will be Best Picture?

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