Amy Adams, "The Master"
A solid performance that gets lost among the firestorm of acting from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. People often overlook Adams’ talents, this is actually her 4th Oscar nomination.
Sally Field, "Lincoln"
Her portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln is perhaps the surprise highlight of the film. Field is one of the few women with the talent to hold up against the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones, but she takes on the role with every ounce of her being.
Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables"
She has become the clear favorite, and the awards season darling for her showing as Fantine in the movie-making of the Broadway favorite. Hathaway spends just 18 minutes of the 2-1/2 movie on screen, but her stunning "I Dreamed a Dream" is enough to make you forget how horrible Russell Crowe is.
Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"
This is a long way from her previous nomination in “As Good As It Gets”, playing a sex surrogate who is hired to help a 38-year-old polio patient lose his virginity. This movie could have gone in several very different wrong directions, but Hunt plays this role with class and touch.
Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook"
As the mother of the visibly damaged Saltano family, Weaver brings a lone sense of sanity to an otherwise crazy bunch of people. She sets the tone for her character within the first 15 minutes of the film, and carries it well to the end.
WANT TO WIN:
Sally Field: There are at least a couple of times during the film where an off-the-chart emotional outburst by Mrs. Lincoln made me laugh out loud. Every time she came on screen I paid attention even a little more, knowing that something interesting was going to be said. I’d like to see her rewarded for taking such a huge leap in getting into that character, something that was necessary to keep up with Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln.
Anne Hathaway: Full disclosure: I’m not a huge fan of ‘Les Miz’, but Hathaway’s solo is easily the best singular performance in the movie. Much of that credit goes with the close-up shot & live singing that have been much-talked about. She had a chance to go all out for ‘Dream’, and she went for it. The awards voters clearly love what’s going on here, and they’ll be on board come Oscar Sunday.