2014 Oscar Nominations: Best Actress & Best Supporting Actress

We’re counting down this year’s Oscar race!  And here are the top ten actresses!

As a life-long movie fan, I find these past few years to be especially exciting.  It’s largely accepted that 1939 was a banner year for movies.  The Best Picture nominations were films still considered among the best ever made.  (Among them were Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.)  It was the Golden Age of Hollywood.  And the actresses and actors of that time are still considered some of the best.

Well, I believe that we are in a new Golden Age.  Or maybe Platinum.  The range of talent in movies each year continues to amaze.  And each year, new, exceptionally talented people from all over the world become part of the film industry. 

The Lead Actress category this year features four women who have been a part of this list in previous years and one who has four Supporting nominations on her resume.  Among them, only one has never taken home the Oscar – and one who has three Oscars on her shelf.  In the Supporting Actress list, we find three new names alongside two women who have previously triumphed in the Lead Actress category.

Best Actress

Amy Adams (American Hustle) – Adams has given one outstanding performance after another in movies.  She has received four Supporting Actress nominations (including last year for The Master), but this is her first for Lead Actress.  As a con artist working on a scheme to uncover corrupt politicians, Adams again reminded us why she’s one of the most popular, in-demand actresses in Hollywood.  She has already been awarded the Golden Globe (Comedy).

Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) – Blanchett came to international attention with her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I and received Lead Actress nominations for the two films in which she played the monarch.  She won the Supporting Actress award for The Aviator.  This is Blanchett’s sixth Academy Award nomination and third in the Lead Actress category.  For the role of a socialite falling on very hard times, she has already won the Golden Globe (Drama), the BAFTA, and the SAG awards, and is the odds-on favorite to win the Oscar.

Sandra Bullock (Gravity) – This is Bullock’s second nomination.  Her first was for The Blind Side, and she won.  Known mostly for comedy, Bullock reminds us that she’s got the talent for drama, as well.  In Gravity, she wowed critics and audiences alike with her moving performance of an astronaut struggling to survive – and to vanquish past tragedies.

Judi Dench (Philomena) – Dame Judi Dench is a treasure of world cinema.  I admit it.  I’ve loved her for years.  During her career, she’s done everything from musicals on stage to action/adventure and sci-fi on screen.  She’s been nominated for the Oscar for both comedy – winning Supporting Actress for Shakespeare in Love – and drama.  As Philomena Lee, a woman in search of the son she was forced to place for adoption when she was a teen, Dench receives her seventh nomination -- her fifth for Lead Actress.  She might just be the sentimental favorite.

Meryl Streep (August: Osage County) – Her first Oscar nomination came as Supporting Actress in 1979 for The Deer Hunter.  She followed that with a Supporting Actress win for Kramer vs. Kramer.  Since then, Streep has amassed an incredible number of Academy Award nominations, for a grand total of three for Supporting Actress and fifteen for Lead.  With wins for Sophie’s Choice and The Iron Lady, her mantel is nearly full.  But she just might add a fourth Oscar as the matriarch of a very dysfunctional family in the dark comedy-drama August: Osage County.

Best Supporting Actress

Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) – While many of us know Hawkins from historical movies such as Persuasion (2007), Jane Eyre (2011), and Great Expectations (2012), she has also made her mark in films like Made in Dagenham and An Education.  She won a Golden Globe for 2008’s Happy-Go-Lucky.  Finally the Academy has recognized her talent and nominated Hawkins for Blue Jasmine, playing the sister of Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine.

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) – In a span of four years, Lawrence has garnered three Academy Award nominations.  Last year she received the Lead Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook.  This year she’s earned rave reviews as the wife of a con artist in American Hustle.  Lawrence has already taken home the Golden Globe and BAFTA this year.  Another Oscar is definitely possible.

Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) – While still a graduate student in the acting program at Yale University School of Drama, Nyong’o was cast in the movie 12 Years a Slave.  Less than two years later, she has received nominations for the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and the Academy Award and has won the SAG award for Female Actor in a Supporting Role.  For her performance as Patsey, a woman held in slavery by a vicious plantation owner, Nyong’o broke hearts – and earned the highest respect of her fellow actors, the critics, and movie audiences.  And she just might win the Oscar.  Update: Lupita Nyong'o was awarded the NAACP Image Award for Supporting Actress on Saturday, February 22.


Julia Roberts (August: Osage County) – Roberts has proven herself in comedy, drama, suspense, romance, and fantasy.  She won the Lead Actress Oscar for the 2000 film Erin Brockovich.  As Barbara Weston, the oldest daughter Meryl Streep’s Violet, Roberts has earned her fourth Academy nomination, her second for Supporting Actress. 

June Squibb (Nebraska) – Squibb started out as a song-and-dance girl on Broadway and on tour.  But in her 60s, she settled down to film work.  Since the 1990s, Squibb racked up credits on TV and in movies.  One of her biggest roles was as Jack Nicholson’s wife in About Schmidt.  But as Bruce Dern’s plain-spoken wife in Nebraska, Squibb has garnered praise and acting nominations from the Golden Globes, SAG, Independent Spirit Awards – and the Academy Awards.

The Oscar Awards show is close.  Who are your favorites this year?

And here’s a bit of Academy Award trivia.  The photo above is of Katharine Hepburn’s Oscar for On Golden Pond – her fourth Oscar for Lead Actress.  A record yet to be matched.

Flickr:    CC          :  Hepburn Oscar          Photo by Adam Fagen