Today, Round 2 of my 2009 Oscar-nominee predictions.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Angelina Jolie: Changeling Acclaim at Cannes doesn't necessarily translate to Oscar glory, and costar Amy Ryan already rode a vaguely similar role, mother of a missing child (though the twist here is that the tyke is reunited with mom, who suspects he isn't her actual son), to a nomination this past year in Gone Baby Gone. But I have a feeling that lingering guilt over snubbing her for A Mighty Heart and having director Clint Eastwood in her corner will overcome the Academy's apparent aversion to Angie.
Kate Beckinsale: Nothing But The Truth For years, she's epitomized an actress on the verge, a la a pre-Monster Charlize Theron, and finally, she has an Oscar bait role as a reporter jailed for not revealing a source. Director Rod Lurie previously guided Joan Allen to a best-actress nod for The Contender. My money's on Kate being next in line.
Kate Winslet: Revolutionary Road Another year, another shot for the five-time nominee. There's been limited early word on the '50s-set drama--which reunites Titanic stars Kate and Leonardo DiCaprio (left) and was directed by Kate's Academy Award-winning husband, Sam Mendes (American Beauty)--other than that it might be Kate's strongest bid for Oscar yet. (P.S. Leo looks so great in the trailer, which I just watched for the first time, that I'm tempted to put him on the guys' short list.)
Meryl Streep: Doubt What's an Oscar contest without Meryl...or Judi Dench...or Cate Blanchett? But this time, Meryl--Winslet's main competition at this early stage--may actually have a snowball's chance in hell of claiming the prize that has eluded her since her win for Sophie's Choice more than 25 years ago.
Nicole Kidman: Australia The trailer markets it as an epic of Atonement proportions. But don't hold that against it. After all, the Capital-F Film reunites Nicole (above, in an Annie Leibovitz photo taken on set) with Baz Luhrmann, director of her Oscar breakthrough, Moulin Rouge (songs and dance not included). Need I say more?
Anne Hathaway: Rachel Getting Married She's had box-office hits, Oscar-winning costars/directors (Meryl, Julie Andrews, Ang Lee) and tabloid coverage (thanks to her four-year relationship with fraud suspect Rafaello Follieri). Now all Anne (left) needs is a little Academy cred. Word on the street is that her twisted-sister take on the Nicole Kidman role in last year's Margot At The Wedding might do the trick.
Melissa Leo: Frozen River I know nothing about this film other than that I keep reading articles predicting big things ahead for Melissa, whom I loved as Benicio del Toro's long-suffering wife in 21 Grams. Oscar usually reserves one slot for a first-timer, so if she's embraced by the precursors, the 48-year-old former All My Children star could likely sneak in.