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18 January 2014

And the Oscar Goes to... Best Actress in a Leading Role (My Choice for the 86th Academy Awards, 2014)

The race for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role is a tight one, so tight that Emma Thompson (in “Saving Mister Banks”) did not even make the cut and Julia Roberts’ performance in “August Osage County” was relabeled as supporting role even though she had equal screen time with Meryl Streep. 

These year’s five nominees delivered very powerful performances with emotions ranging from explosive to the sublime.   

5. Judi Dench in “Philomena” delivered the most subtle performance among the five nominees. In the shoes of lesser thespians, the role of Philomena would not have been so engaging. Dench adeptly mixed humor, sentiments and pathos. Magic.

4. Sandra Bullock’s performance is the most widely seen because of the box office triumph of “Gravity.” Bullock gave her best performance to date, and made many viewers around the globe weep and root for her.  She played the most inspiring character of all and if voters would solely pin on optimism, Miss Congeniality will have her second Oscar.

3. Who could dismiss acting deity Meryl Streep? Ten minutes after the film starts, Streep is in full force in “August Osage County” complete with deathly appearance reminiscent of “Ironweed” and, yes, an accent. She did not give us time to see her slowly simmer. She was explosive. I think the Academy should just permanently give her a spot in the Best Actress category and just call the other nominees as the "The Four Actresses Who Will Try to Beat Meryl Streep.”

2. Amy Adams is the actress to watch and "American Hustle" permanently catapults her as a leading lady. Adams played a street-smart steely con artist, with nuances roller coasting from the comical, sensual to the dramatic. Acting alongside good actors like Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro, Adams' role was still the most memorable. With five nominations and no win, even if Adams does not get the Oscar this year, she will definitely be nominated in the years to come.

1. However, my choice for Best Actress is Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine.” Playing the female Woody Allen role or channeling Mia Farrow (with eerie references to "Rosemary's Baby"), Blanchett was mesmerizing to watch. The film belonged to her but she also did not overshadow her co-stars. She took a step back when necessary and exploded at the right moment. She was neither hysterical nor reserved, but just appropriate. I did not see Blanchett playing Jasmine; I saw Jasmine, with all her neurosis and eccentricities. The fact that you either hate her or love her is testament that Blanchett made her human. And yes, she is the most likely successor to Meryl Streep, with six Oscar nominations, one Oscar and several accents to her credit. Like Streep, she even played a man.

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