Actresses take center stage on Oscar watch list

Sun Oct 17, 2010 6:55pm EDT
 
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood's Oscar race is only about six weeks old, but already one theme is emerging: unlike most years when men dominate the critical buzz for strong roles, this season women are the talk of the town.

From previous Oscar winners such as Nicole Kidman and big stars like Annette Bening to newcomers such as Jennifer Lawrence, women are tearing it up on the big screen. Some Oscar watchers see as many as 15 possible contenders for five best actress nominations.

The experts cite several reasons for what may be dubbed "The Year of the Actress" at Oscar time in February. Chief among them is that many of the strong female stories are making it onto film because the women themselves have greater clout to get their pet film projects made.

"Not only are women taking center stage, they are dominating the stage entirely," said Tom O'Neil, awards expert for TheEnvelope.com.

The Oscars, of course, are the world's top film honors, and pundits begin handicapping the awards categories, based on screenings at film festivals in Venice, Telluride and Toronto, which generally begin in late August and early September.

Most years when it comes time for some 6,000 voters at the Beverly Hills-based Academy of Arts and Sciences to pick winners, Academy watchers have a difficult time narrowing down the best actor category because generally three or four, if not all five nominees have turned in strong performances.

Best actress, however, typically narrows more easily because often times there is just one or two favorites. Last year, for instance, Sandra Bullock faced very little competition when she picked up the statuette for her role in football film, "The Blind Side."

"Normally with the actress race, you scramble to find three good ones," said Pete Hammond, awards columnist with Deadline Hollywood. "You're looking at women who may not even get nominated this year, while in a lesser year they may have very well won."   Continued...

 
<p>U.S. actress Natalie Portman arrives at the gala presentation for the film "Black Swan" during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival, September 13, 2010. REUTERS / Adrien Veczan</p>