Oscar nominations: Meryl Streep, Viola Davis up for best actress
Streep and Davis are considered to be in a dead heat for the front-runner position among most Oscar prognosticators.
Streep's nod for her work in "The Iron Lady," in which she portrays former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher from her political beginnings through her fading years, makes for a record-breaking 17th Oscar nomination. The actress, however, has won the trophy just twice -- once for supporting actress for 1979’s “Kramer vs. Kramer” and once as lead actress for 1982’s “Sophie’s Choice.” Streep won the Golden Globe for lead actress in a dramatic movie early last week for the role.
For Davis, the lead actress Oscar nod -- for her role as Southern domestic Aibileen Clark, who finds her voice amid oppression in the popular film "The Help" -- is her first. If she wins, she will be only the second African American actress to win an Oscar in this category. Halle Berry was the first for 2001’s “Monster’s Ball.” Davis received an Oscar nomination in the supporting actress category three years ago for “Doubt.”
For Close, the Oscar nomination validates the actress' 30-year love affair with the title character of "Albert Nobbs," a role Close -- who in addition to starring in and producing the film, also co-wrote the screenplay -- told The Envelope earlier this month she found "incredibly challenging." The nomination is her sixth.
Michelle Williams picks up her second consecutive lead actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn,” in which she plays the troubled sex symbol during the production of “The Prince and the Showgirl” with Laurence Olivier. Williams earned a lead actress nomination for 2010’s “Blue Valentine” and a supporting actress nod for 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain.” She won the Golden Globe early last week for lead actress in a motion picture comedy or musical for the "Marilyn" role.
The role of the enigmatic hacker Lisbeth Salander in the film adaptation of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” earns 26-year-old Rooney Mara her first lead actress Oscar nomination.
The Oscars will be handed out Feb. 26 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. ABC will broadcast the ceremony, which veteran comedian Billy Crystal will host.
-- Elena Howe and Susan King
Photo: Meryl Streep portrays Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." Credit: The Weinstein Co.