Best Actress Oscar Predictions Update: Blanchett and Dench Battle for Early #1

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2014 Oscar Predictions Update: Best Actress
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine / Judi Dench in Philomena
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics / The Weinstein Co.

I‘m home from Toronto and I held off updating my Oscar predictions until now, which means even after films such as 12 Years a Slave, Prisoners, Philomena and Gravity played at Telluride and Venice, I held off updating my predictions until I had seen them for myself as my nine days at the Toronto Film Festival was just around the immediate corner.

Well, I’m back and the race has definitely started lining up, but we are still very early in the game with several films yet to be seen including the likes of The Wolf of Wall Street, Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, Her, The Monuments Men, Grace of Monaco and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to name a few.

So, while it may seem like all the talk is swirling around films people are already calling locks to win this and that Oscar, let’s take a step back shall we and remain a little more level-headed.

That said, today I have started what will be a week long look at updating my Oscar predictions and I’m starting with the Best Actress and Supporting Actress (read that update here) categories for no other reason than I simply don’t like having contenders in the wrong category so I wanted to make that move as soon as possible.

Of course, I’m referring to the ladies of August: Osage County as Meryl Streep has now moved from being a Best Actress contender to a Best Supporting Actress contender and back to a Best Actress contender. Trouble for her is she wouldn’t have won in either category and at this time would have the better chance in the Supporting category where her performance as Violet Weston actually belongs. As a result, Julia Roberts has shifted over to the Supporting category where she’ll compete with fellow August star Margo Martindale and given Roberts’ name recognition, she’ll probably steal the spotlight. Personally I think Roberts gives a better performance than Martindale, but her portrayal of Barbara is a lead performance. Go figure.

As far as how the Best Actress category currently lines up Streep would not only have to overcome current front runner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) but also Judi Dench (Philomena) whose title performance is now likely to give Blanchett a run for her money. Given the fact Dench has been in the business much longer and the Academy may choose to shine a light on an actress that may not have another shot at an Oscar while Blanchett has plenty of years ahead of her, don’t be surprised to see me move Dench to that top line some time soon.

I’ve also got the as-yet-unseen Emma Thompson ahead of Streep for her upcoming film Saving Mr. Banks, which I currently see as a potential film to beat in several categories, even with the recent success of 12 Years a Slave in Toronto.

Finally, my top five is rounded out by Sandra Bullock whose performance in Gravity I don’t personally believe is much of an Oscar contender, but the buzz right now places her above other unseen performances at the moment.

With that, here is my current top five and you can click here to see my full list of 18 ranked contenders.

  1. Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
  2. Judi Dench (Philomena)
  3. Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)
  4. Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
  5. Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

Click here to read my post taking a look at my Best Supporting Actress update.