Eilis in Brooklyn
Saoirse is by all accounts an extraordinary actress, who won her first Oscar nomination at just 13 for Atonement, and her latest role as an Irish immigrant trying to settle in New York has won applause on both sides of the pond. For the record it’s pronounced sare-she, though we’re looking forward to lots of entertaining mispronunciations from the red carpet pundits.
How likely is she to win? The film has a heartwarming coming-to-America vibe which should play well with the Academy, though the competition is fierce.
For: Carol in Carol
Every role Blanchett touches turns to gold, so it’s no surprise that she shines as the titular lead in Carol, the story of a 1950s housewife who starts a lesbian affair with a shop assistant (Rooney Mara) when her marriage hits the rocks.
How likely is she to win? You can never rule an actress as fine as Blanchett out of the race, though her last win was just two years ago for Blue Jasmine so the Academy might decide it’s a little too soon for a double.
THE FRONTRUNNER: Brie Larson
For: Ma in Room
Emma Donoghue’s extraordinary book about a little boy born in captivity after his mother is abducted won massive critical acclaim when it was first published in 2010. The film is equally moving, not least thanks to Larson’s subtle and cogent portrayal of Ma.
How likely is she to win? Very. Brie is widely considered the Oscar favourite, particularly after her Golden Globes win.
For: Joy Mangano in Joy
David O’Russell has clearly found his long-term muse as Jennifer Lawrence stars in her third film by the maverick director – playing out the life story of Miracle Mop entrepreneur Joy Mangano.
How likely is she to win? At 25, Lawrence just became the youngest-ever actress to score four Oscar nominations. Lawrence is praised as the best thing about Joy, which received unexpectedly turgid reviews, but while she’ll probably be nominated it’s unlikely she’ll walk away with a statuette this time.
For: Kate in 45 Years
Despite being one of the best actresses of her generation, 69-year-old Rampling is yet to win an Oscar. Her portrayal of Kate, one half of a happily married couple whose life is derailed by a piece of news from the past, in 45 Years change all that?
How likely is she to win? Rampling has just won Best Actress in America’s National Society of Film Critics Awards, a prestigious gong which normally points towards Oscar success – though this doesn’t mean it’s in the bag.