a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Tomorrow morning it will all be over, but the shouting. Yes,dear readers, dear cineastes, tomorrow at the crack of dawn in L.A. and at 8:30pm EST, the Oscar Nominations for 2012 will be announced and all will be revealed and Phase One, as it’s known of the Oscar Campaign will be over.

This has been my busiest Oscar season ever with helping Ann Dowd’s campaign as much as I have been able. Culminating last night in her win for Best Supporting Actress at the National Board of Review Awards ceremony. More, I’m sure, on that later.

But now on to what has become the thorniest category ever this year ~ Best Actress.

To echo all and sundry, there are two locks ~ Vanity Fair cover girl Jennifer Lawrence for the manic-depressive comedy “Silver Linings Playbook” and Jessica Chastain for the taut,controversial Osama Bin Laden hunt-thriller “Zero Dark Thirty.”

In the past two days, the lovely Jessica has received her first, major, best actress award from the New York Critics Circle on Monday night, then last night she got her National Board of Review Award.

Both those awards are announced beforehand and handed out at the aforementioned ceremonies. No nominees at either. Just winners. Plane and simple.

Now, the OTHER three slots for Best Actress are really fraught with possible suprises and booby traps. (Pun) Like for instance, WILL they REALLY nominate a six-year- old? I don’t think so.

So Qu’venshane Wallis is not showing up here, as charming and disarming as she is in person and on-screen in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

As I’ve been saying all along, as much as I love French culture and everything French, I don’t think the Academy is going to nominate TWO French actresses for Acting in their own language!

That would be Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone,” and 86-year-old Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour.” I think, to be brutally honest, that the young, cute one, Marion, gets in. And Emmanuelle Riva, who faces death in the most devastating screen portrayal, perhaps ever, will not.

I’m hearing that Academy types just aren’t watching “Amour”, and don’t like it when they see it. It’s a critics darling to be sure, but since the Academy is all about the same age as the two characters depicted in this film, I don’t think they are going to watch OR nominate it. They’ll leave it to the Foreign Language Committee to determine whether this Austrian/French co-production is in, or more likely out. No matter how much critical accolades it has won. One has to keep repeating the mantra ~”There are NO CRITICS in the Academy!” And it’s true. Nary a one.

So now we have three beauties, Jennifer, Jessica and Marion. So who are the other two? I’m thinking Helen Mirren, who got a SAG nod as well as just landing a BAFTA nomination,too this morning for her rousing, bracing portrayal of a real life Hollywood icon Lady Alma Hitchcock, Sir Alfred’s uber-talented wife, in “Hitchcock”, is going to get in. And of course, she’s a former winner, too, for Best Actress, for “The Queen.” But then so is Marion! For “La Vie En Rose.”

And the last place is a toss-up I feel between two talented ladies in films that might not have been seen much yet. Naomi Watts, in the tsunami horror film “The Impossible” and Rachel Weisz for the British drama “The Deep Blue Sea.”

I’m going to plunk for Rachel, since although she really already has an Oscar,like both Helen Mirren AND Maid Marion, they like her, they really like her.And the Oscars are nothing if not repetivive and clannish in their thinking and awarding. Or re-rewarding.

But Rachel IS extraordinary in “Deep Blue Sea.”

And Naomi, poor thing,is an Australia, and is someone who gets overlooked over and over, time and time again. And the same thing may happen this year.

And some of the snobby Actor’s Branch may feel that her portrait of a mother lost and injured by the tsunami that hit the beaches of Southeast Asia a few years back, is more screaming and stunt work, than a performance.

Whereas Rachel, who BEGINS “Deep Blue Sea”in classic Oscar fashion,by trying to kill herself via a gas heater, right after WWII, is more typically, the Academy’s cup of British Tea. And also, though Naomi got overlooked by the BAFTAs today.
So did Rachel, so it’s a toss up. But I’m picking Rachel, thinking that the BAFTA membership now is circling about 300 members of the Academy, too.

Also, Rachel, like fellow Nominee Jennifer Lawrence who raked in over $600 million dollars for “The Hunger Games” this year, Rachel showed her action heroine chops for real in the hit “The Bourne Legacy.” Anne Hathaway scored this double whammy too, this year with the blockbuster “The Dark Knight Rises,” as well as cornering what looks like a sure win for Best Supp. Actress with “Les Miserables.” The Academy seems to be going for gals who can act, but also kick butt.And rake in millions at the Box-Office.

And in conclusion, It could also shock of shocks be the forgotten Keira Knightley in devisive masterpiece “Anna Karenina.”

So dear readers, dear cineastes, I see ~

Jennifer Lawrence
Jessica Chastain
Marion Cotillard
Helen Mirren
Rachel Weisz

We’ll know VERY soon, won’t we? And it will all look very, very different, won’t it?
Phase Two is NOT the same thing as Phase one.

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