Jessica Chastain leaps up to lead Oscar race, threatening Jennifer Lawrence

A Sony Pictures rep has confirmed to Gold Derby that Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty“) will be campaigned in the Oscar race for lead actress, not supporting as previously presumed widely across the blogosphere. She portrays a CIA staffer who picks up on Osama bin Laden‘s trail and advises the U.S. Navy SEAL Team on their assignment to snag the world’s most wanted terrorist.

This news is a major threat to the Oscar hopes of Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”), who is way ahead in the Best Actress race, according to the Oscarologists polled by Gold Derby. Lawrence is backed by 21 of the 25 pundits, who give her 9-to-5 odds to win

Both Lawrence and Chastain fit the classic profile of a typical Best Actress winner – that is, The Babe Factor. They’re gorgeous ingénues with solid feature film resumes (both are previous Oscar nominees) and they’re now at their career peaks.

Chastain emerged as a breakout star last year when she bagged a supporting Oscar bid for “The Help” and also starred in “The Tree of Life” and “Take Shelter.” Lawrence was nommed in lead for “Winter’s Bone” two years ago and she established herself as a box office superstar toplining “The Hunger Games” earlier this year.

Both Chastain and Lawrence now appear in films with strong Best Picture potential and thus they could benefit from the coattail effect that swept Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”) and Gwyneth Paltrow (“Shakespeare in Love”) to past victories. However, early momentum behind “Silver Linings Playbook” seems to be slipping a bit among Oscarologists while support builds for “Zero Dark Thirty” on our prediction charts.

Meantime, the Hollywood Reporter says that Sony may bump the date of its wide release to theaters from Dec. 16 to Jan. 11, which is one day after the unveiling of Oscar nominations. The film will still have its limited qualifying run in December so that it’s poised for a big Oscar push later.

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10 thoughts on “Jessica Chastain leaps up to lead Oscar race, threatening Jennifer Lawrence

  1. I don’t know who will win the award, but this shapes up as a strong frontrunner for silliest article of the award’s season. No one has seen the movie. No one knows if her performance is anything more than the standard pedestrian fare. The “babe factor’? Really? As demeaning an idea as that is, she was just as attractive in Lawless and it didn’t help. Let’s wait to see the movie. I’d hate to think that awards are handed out not based on the actual quality of the acting but because a film is allegedly the right “type.” It’s not called Oscar bait for nothing I guess, but it seriously devalues the award if you can anticipate award’s consideration film unseen based on a film playing to formula. Lawrence and Cottilard and others are mentioned because people have seen their performances, and Lawrence is mentioned as a strong contender because her performance was terrific. Maybe Chastain will be too, or maybe she will just look eranestly at the camera. But wasn’t Keira Knightley a shoe-in and Lawrence not even on the radar before someone bothered to see those films? Incidentally Bin Laden was captured based on a tip off. I’ll try not to laugh when we see this transformed into the “heroic CIA staffer” who single handedly captured Bin Laden. Ha.

  2. Ummm….how exactly is Chastain a threat to Jennifer Lawrence’s frontrunner status?? (LOL!)…NO ONE has seen the film!. SLP has already screened at TIFF as well as several other festivals and Jennifer Lawrence (as well as the film) continue to receive rave reviews. So, what’s up Tom?…was this article written just to shake things up a bit?,I wonder, did Sony pay you to write it??? or what? (LOL). Chastain is a very fine actress but, again, no one has seen the film and right now her odds are 100/1; explain again how that’s a threat to Lawrence’s 9/5 odds for a performance in a film that actually HAS been seen?. I must also agree with Winston regarding the “babe” comment…c’mon, Tom you’re better than that.

  3. Btw, I’m curious about the fact that Sony might bump ZDT to January 11, 2013 so, until that date is greenlit…then what?. I think perhaps, that you shoud have waited until the release date for the film is certain, otherwise, this whole article is moot because then ZDT wouldn’t even be elligible.

  4. lol guys. this is just a prediction. I don’t see how this is any more silly than people predicting DDL and Hathaway as landslide winners before those films have been released. IMO if the film turns out (which I have faith that it will), Chastain has real frontrunner potential. I think she’s a fantastic actress, and Bigelow has directed nominated performances before

  5. At least you changed the title. And we still don’t have any idea if Chastain did anything to even deserve getting nominated, let alone being a serious contender. My impression is that it will be the usual paint by numbers performance that any number of actresses could pull off. You can’t say the same for what Lawrence and Cottilard did.

  6. @Jack Dudley: Yeah, it’s only a prediction but it’s still a silly one…there’s kind of a lull right now and I think O’Neil threw this gem into the blogosphere to give the pundits something to chew on/argue/debate over. The headline and the article that followed was really silly though; as if O’Neil pulled it out of his ass.

  7. I guess that it’s just your guys’ opinion, but I know that I’ve never seen anything from Chastain that was anything close to “paint by numbers.” But I agree D., this is something O’Neil threw into the blogosphere to give us all something to chew on, but that doesn’t necessarily make it garbage.

  8. @Jack Dudley-Chastain is 35 years old and has a single supporting nod to her credit. She is competent but never brilliant and can never carry a role. (Maybe she is a late bloomer). As to my reaction, I guess I find the posturing, agendas and politics behind these nominations to be offensive. I love movies and I appreciate talented actors and I want to see these award handed out on the merits, not if they are in the “right” type of film about the “right” topic. And certainly not based on the petty biases of movie critics.

  9. At 35, how is Chastain still an ingenue? (LOL!). I remember reading that Chastain shaved a few years off her age…more like used a chainsaw.

  10. Her part in ZDT is not an Oscar worthy role. Her character lacks depth and is one dimensional. The only reason she, and the movie for that fact, was nominated was because it deals with OBL and 9/11.

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