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2013 Oscar Nominees Profiled: Best Actress

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It’s that time of year again, as Hollywood’s finest find themselves, with alarming regularity, donning outfits that cost more than your house and jewellery worth more than you will earn in a lifetime. But awards season is all building to one supreme event, the Empire Awards Oscars on February 24. Ahead of that milestone, we assess the chances of each nominee in the major categories, and see who’s looking good ahead of the big night...

See also: Best Picture Profiles
See also: Best Adapted Screenplay Profiles See also: Best Original Screenplay Profiles See also: Best Supporting Actor Profiles See also: Best Actor Profiles
See also: Best Supporting Actress Profiles See also: Best Director Profiles

Film: Amour

Why She Will Win

1 Riva’s performance in Amour is astonishing, probably the best of the lot, and that should surely count for something. 2 She’s won the BAFTA and the European Film Award for this already; perhaps a spirit of entente will move Hollywood to follow their lead. 3 Every voter influenced by the French New Wave will finally get a chance to show their knowledge of cinema history by voting for her. Alternatively, former film students may assume the film is a sequel to her performance in Hiroshima Mon Amour and reward her sight-unseen.

Why She Won't Win

1 In the Best Actress category, the most famous nominee, or Hilary Swank, generally wins. 2 With the exception of BAFTA, Riva has yet to win any of the traditional Oscar signposts, which suggests she’s a minority candidate. 3 There’s only ever been one winner in her 80s, and that was Jessica Tandy, a well-established Hollywood star. Is it possible to win when you’re older and from out of town?

Film: Silver Linings Playbook

Why She Will Win

1 Lawrence already has a previous Oscar nod and has quickly established herself as one of the best actresses around. She already won the SAG for this role, a very good sign, and a Globe, for what that’s worth. 2 She remembered all those sports stats and reeled them off as if she knew what she was talking about (and spoiler! She totally didn’t). Lawrence was great in the part, which was written for someone a good bit older but feels fresher and more interesting in her interpretation. 3 Cynically, the Best Actress award is generally used to crown upcoming A-listers – which Lawrence certainly is. She’d also give an amazing speech.

Why She Won't Win

1 She’s younger than the average winner, and may be considered a bit too green yet to win the big prize. 2 Is it a bit much for one person to win the Hunger Games and an Oscar in the same year? 3 Given Lawrence’s outspokenness Hollywood’s powers-that-be might be nervous what she’d say in her speech.

Film: Zero Dark Thirty

Why See Will Win

1 Chastain is almost exactly the average age of a Best Actress winner at 35, and has amassed a hugely impressive body of work in the last couple of years. 2 This is her second nomination (a good sign) and she’s already won a Globe, for what that’s worth, and a National Board of Review award for her performance. 3 It’s a terrific performance and the anchorpiece of the film, with Chastain playing the sort of tough, conflicted character that women very rarely get to play.

Why She Won't Win

1 She may suffer from the controversy surrounding the film, which could mean some voters dismiss it sight-unseen. 2 Chastain doesn’t get the big emotional breakdown showpiece scene that one generally needs to win Best Actress. It could limit her chances. 3 She lost out to Lawrence at the SAGs, which might be a bad sign.

Film: Beasts Of The Southern Wild

Why She Will Win

1 It’s a film-carrying, barnstorming performance, utterly convincing and completely mesmerising throughout some heavy emotional stuff. 2 Wallis went to considerable lengths to play Hushpuppy, and wants everyone to know that she doesn’t go without pants nearly that much in real life. 3 Her adorable puppy purses, which she’s worn to every awards show so far. A girl with such adorable fashion sense deserves an Oscar.

Why She Won't Win

1 This would seem to be the unknown-actor-from-a-small-film nomination, which rarely results in a win. Let’s hope, like Jennifer Lawrence (in a similar boat for Winter’s Bone), Wallis builds on this and comes back in a few more years. 2 She’s only 9, which means that some voters will probably dismiss her astonishing performance merely as “someone being a kid”. 3 The Academy may feel those puppy purses are beneath its dignity. The fools!

Film: The Impossible

Why She Will Win

1 Watts is terrific as the mother caught up in the Boxing Day tsunami and fighting through it with her son. 2 Watts is a well-respected actress, nominated before for 21 Grams and with a decent body of work to enhance her reputation and her work here. 3 With the exception of Riva, this is maybe the most emotional role of the lot.

Why She Won't Win

1 The film has no heat at all, with only this nomination, and that’s not a good sign. 2 Outside of film festivals, Watts hasn’t won anything for this film. It looks like she’s top five but not top two. 3 Is it just us, or does Best Actress feel like a Chastain/Lawrence showdown this year? Watts may have to wait for her upcoming turns as either Diana or Marilyn Monroe.