I'm playing catch up a little here, so let's hop to it...
The buzz favors...
1. Keira Knightley - Anna Karenina
2. Helen Hunt - Six Sessions
3. Laura Linney - Hyde Park On Hudson
4. Viola Davis - Won't Back Down
5. Marion Cotillard - Rust and Bone
6. Carey Mulligan - The Great Gatsby
7. Quvenzhane Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. Meryl Streep - Hope Springs
9. Mia Wasichowska - Stoker
10. Emmanuelle Riva - Amour
Also: Rachel McAdams - To The Wonder, Amy Adams - Trouble With the Curve
I'm thinking more...
1. Quvenzhane Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild...The film was almost universally beloved at both Sundance AND Cannes already and she IS the film. The fact that she would be the youngest artist ever nominated in this category also makes for a great awards season narrative.
2. Keira Knightley - Anna Karenina...She and director Joe Wright have already proven that they can bring out the best in each other and she certainly commits to each role she plays. If this film even meets expectations, she's got an excellent shot.
3. Helen Hunt - Six Sessions...She's been pretty under the radar for a while now and the AMPAS loves a comeback. Reviews for the film were very positive at Sundance and almost all of them praised her (and co-star John Hawkes's) performance.
4. Marion Cotillard - Rust and Bone...The film was divisive at Cannes but her performance got great reviews and buzz. She's another one that people predict every year, but it's really hard not to because she's always exceptional, breathtaking, and impossible to look away from on screen. Half a decade has come and gone since her win. She's in the highest profile movie she's done in her own language since then. Sounds like another great Oscar narrative.
5. Carey Mulligan - The Great Gatsby...She is so young and new on the scene to get another nomination so soon, except she's always on point. Her range is phenominal (Drive, An Education, Shame, even Wall Street 2), and her American accent is pretty flawless. She can even sing. This is a tremendously difficult role she's taking on. If she stays true to her short track record, it may be impossible NOT to nominate her.
6.Viola Davis - Won't Back Down...I almost put her in the top five because the Academy will likely be looking for an excuse to give her an Oscar after she came so close to winning for The Help this year. The film just looks so saccharine. Still, she is often much better than the material that she appears in, so I'm keeping her in the alternate slot for now.
7. Emmanuelle Riva - Amour...Although Ms. Cotillard is more familiar to American audiences, but Riva's film and performance were the most universally praised things about Cannes this year, and Marion already has an Oscar. If there IS a slot for an actress in a foreign language film, Ms. Riva could easily take it instead.
8. Laura Linney - Hyde Park On Hudson...IF this film makes a splash in the awards season (that extends beyond co-star Bill Murray), this very talented actress COULD reap the benefits with her third nomination in this category.
9. Julianne Moore - What Maisie Knew...Mostly just because she almost never disappoints regardless of how the film she is in plays overall, and she's never won, and she's overdue. I wouldn't count her out.
10. Judy Dench - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel...Someone had to go there. A film about two women over retirement age starring two of the greatest veteran actresses out there grosses over 100 million at the American box office (oh yes, BRITISH women) and you think there isn't SOME portion of the actor's branch who've mentally filled out the ballot already? And co-star Maggie Smith could be a part of this race as well.
No, I did not mention Meryl Streep's performance in Hope Springs but this is because she finally won again last year. I'm not saying that's it for her and Oscar's love affair, I'm just saying that they have nothing left to prove to each other. She'll be nominated again, but it will be when she shows us something that we've never seen her do before (or when there is a very weak field). Until then, I'm sure she'll be great in everything, but Meryl would be the first to say that there are many great actresses who've NEVER been nominated that deserve five available slots to exist in more than concept.
The buzz would have it...
1. Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln
2. Bill Murray - Hyde Park On Hudson
3. John Hawkes - Six Sessions
4. Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
5. Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables
6. Jamie Foxx - Django Unchained
7. Clint Eastwood - Trouble With the Curve
8. Brad Pitt - Killing Them Softly
9. Ryan Gosling - The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Bradley Cooper - The Silver Linings Playbook
Also: Terrence Stamp - Song For Marion, Ben Affleck - Argo
Word on the lilly pad is:
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master...As I've said before, this seems to be the Weinstein company's biggest push this year and the Academy certainly loves Hoffman (Capote, anyone). Hoffman playing a cult leader also sounds like spot on casting and when does he not deliver as an actor?
2. John Hawkes - Six Sessions...Hawkes has the advantage here because his performance has already been previewed, reviewed and praised with an impressive amount of unanimity. Hawkes already has one nomination in Supporting Actor under his belt and his body of recent work grows ever more impressive.
3. Bill Murray - Hyde Park On Hudson...Murray has throngs of fans who have been crying out for him to win an Oscar ever since he Lost In Translation (I know, I'm sorry, I can't help myself). Playing F.D.R. in a historical drama is an incredibly un-Bill-like role that completely defies our (and the Academy's) expectations, which is the thing that second nominations (and potential wins) are made of.
4. Jamie Foxx - Django Unchained...Yeah, he's already got one Oscar and he's still relatively young, but this is so different from anything we've seen him do as a mature actor and Oscar loves it when you play against type. Tarantino is also the sort of director who often brings something totally new out of actors the first time he works with them. Oh, and Harvey Weinstein is the sort of producer who will call LOTS of attention to it.
5. Daniel Day Lewis - Lincoln...While to an extent I will believe in Lincoln: The Awards Juggernaut when I see it, you are a fool to discount the force of nature that is Daniel Day Lewis. There is no reason at this point to conclude that 9 was anything more than the exception that proved the rule. Forty percent of the performances he's given in the last 22 years have resulted in nominations, and that's with him NOT being nominated for Age of Innocence.
6. Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables...Jackman has never been nominated and this material probably gives him the best chance of his career so far. He's already hosted the Oscars so we know they like him, but they like Billy Crystal too, and he's never gotten a nod.
7. Oscar Isaac - Inside Llewyn Davis...It is almost certain that one of the top five actors listed here will fall off because they are all previous nominees and the Academy likes to put at least one newbie in this category. If that slot does not go to Jackman, this talented star of the new Coen Brothers effort sounds like a likely bet.
8. Ryan Gosling - The Gangster Squad...Gosling seems like the perpetual bridesmaid of the Oscars lately, but he gets so much work that he's always splitting his own votes. I'm going to just spit in the wind and predict his more mainstream effort rather than Place Beyond the Pines.
9. Terrence Stamp - Song For Marion...Amazing as it is to believe, the man who played the Limey in the 90's and General Zod in the 80's has only been nominated for an Academy Award once, fifty years ago. This film, the story of a grumpy old man who joins a local London choir when his wife grows ill, sounds potentially a little hokey, but also like a great actor's showcase for Stamp.
10. Brad Pitt - Killing Them Softly...He just got a nod last year for Moneyball, and his early reviews for Killing, while positive, are not as glowing as they were for the previous film. Still, he's Brad Pitt, so if the field comes up a little weak, there is always a chance.