Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
There seems to be a lot of movement in this category. Various voters have their favorites, but there is universal admiration for all of them. I expect a lot of Academy members will keep their choice here fluid over the next month and a half. Chastain is probably the closest thing to a leader in the category, but Lawrence has a loyal following, too, and the other votes indicate a lot of love for Silver Linings.
Riva, at 85, and Wallis, at 9, set an interesting simultaneous record — they are the oldest and the youngest people ever nominated for the lead actress award. I had heard some grumbling from voters in the acting branch that a lively performance from a kid so young — Wallis was 6 when Beasts was shot — is more of a directorial achievement than an acting one. After all, these voters often spend more time learning their craft than she was even alive. But the energy of that performance won them over, and good for her. She’s a sweetheart.
The loser here: Marion Cotillard, who previously won for La Vie En Rose, shut out for her performance as an orca trainer who suffers a terrible accident.
Prize Fighter Score: Four for five. I thought Cotillard, a Screen Actors Guild Awards contender, was in and Wallis was out, but that wee girl came through.
Lesson Learned: Don’t bet against the pint-sized, and remember that actors hate, hate, hate to make a big deal about age.
Next Page: The Best Supporting Actor category …