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Viola Davis off to strong start in lead actress Oscar race

November 14, 2011 |  7:00 am

Viola Davis in The Help
With Viola Davis, Michelle Williams, Glenn Close and Meryl Streep in the mix, the lead actress Oscar race is full with strong contenders.

As the movie awards season progresses, the Gold Standard column will handicap the current state of the races in The Envelope and at 24 Frames — ranking them by likelihood of a nomination. Check back often for updates.

1. Viola Davis, “The Help”
2. Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”
3. Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs”
4. Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
5. Rooney Mara, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
6. Charlize Theron, “Young Adult”
7. Tilda Swinton, “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
8. Elizabeth Olsen, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
9. Keira Knightley, “A Dangerous Method”
10. Kirsten Dunst, “Melancholia”

Bubbling under: Ellen Barkin, “Another Happy Day”; Felicity Jones, “Like Crazy”; Emma Stone, “The Help”

For your consideration: Vera Farmiga, “Higher Ground.” Farmiga’s searching, spiritual drama (which she also directed) had the misfortune of a stealth, end-of-summer release. All the more impressive: The same bold intelligence that informs her acting comes across behind the camera as well.

Analysis: Williams transforms herself in a way that touches Marilyn Monroe’s soul. Close transforms herself into a woman masquerading as a man, delivering a master class in understatement. Streep has been nominated 16 times. She’s not going to get one for playing Margaret Thatcher? And Mara is the wild card in a movie that will be widely seen and discussed. And they’ll all likely be applauding Davis from their seats.


The Gold Standard: Predicting the best picture race

Predicting the best director Oscar nominees

— Glenn Whipp

Photo: Viola Davis. Credit: DreamWorks.

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