Uh oh, Jennifer Lawrence: Jessica Chastain closing gap in Best Actress race

Jennifer Lawrence started this Oscar season as the overwhelming favorite to win Best Actress for her work in “Silver Linings Playbook.” But since “Zero Dark Thirty” started to screen for the press earlier this month, Jessica Chastain has made a steady climb up the ranks and is now thisclose. Lawrence still leads with odds of 2 to 1 but Chastain is right behind with odds of 9 to 4.

Lawrence had the backing of 21 Experts on Dec. 1 while Chastain could only count on two of them to predict her to prevail. On Dec. 3, they tied in the third round of voting by the New York Film Critics Circle. Because of the quirks of those kudos, the winner ended being compromise candidate Rachel Weisz “The Deep Blue Sea”). Two days later, Chastain won Best Actress from the National Board of Review. Lawrence came back to tie with Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour“) when the LA film critics announced their winners on Dec. 9. 

Last week, both Lawrence and Chastain reaped bids for a trifecta of prizes: Critics’ Choice, SAG and Golden Globes. Marion Cotillard (“Rust and Bone“) and Naomi Watts (“The Impossible“) also picked up noms from all three kudos and both make the final five according to our Experts (see their full rankings here). 

Lawrence is still predicted to prevail by 16 Experts: Scott Feinberg (THR), Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Richard Horgan (MediaBistro), Dave Karger (Fandango), Guy Lodge (InContention), Sean O’Connell (Hollywood News), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Kevin Polowy (Next Movie), Steve Pond (The Wrap), Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post), Richard Rushfield (BuzzFeed), Alex Suskind (Moviefone),  Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Chuck Walton (Fandango), Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) and Glenn Whipp (LA Times). 

-ADDPREDICTION:56:6:Who will win Best Actress Oscar?:ADDPREDICTION-

Chastain is the choice of 11 pundits: Thelma Adams (Yahoo), Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Edward Douglas (Coming Soon), Thom Geier (Entertainment Weekly), Michael Hogan (Huffington Post),  Tariq Khan (Fox News), Michael Musto (Village Voice), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood) and Susan Wloszczyna (USA Today).

Chastain is getting a big boost from the strong showing by her film. “Zero Dark Thirty” won over the Gotham critics and the National Board of Review. And it is getting rave reviews, currently rated a jaw-dropping 95 at Metacritic, based on 26 notices. Compare that to a score of 81 for “Silver Linings” as determined by 45 critics. 

18 thoughts on “Uh oh, Jennifer Lawrence: Jessica Chastain closing gap in Best Actress race

  1. Lawrence did the better pure acting job. ZDT is supposedly the more important film. Lawrence could do what Chastain does in ZDT (which is pretty much Jodie Foster’s Silence of the Lambs role). Chastain could not do what Lawrence does in SLP. I would like to see Lawrence win on the merits, but the so-called more important role always carries a lot of weight. Should be interesting.

  2. I am pretty damn sure that Jessica Chastain is gonna win this, even though I feel that Jennifer showed a lot more sides in her work. The Academy is loads of bull anyway because in my eyes this should be a no-brainer; this award should go to Emmanuelle Riva! And it’s not because she is 80-something years old but the performance she gave was just perfection. Both Jessica and Jennifer were great, Jennifer was better but Riva was outstanding!

    It’s all about the politics. Jessica is going to win cause she got the nomination last year and she has had a million movies out in the past two years, so yeah, unfortunately she is going to win. Not saying that she doesn’t deserve it, they all do but Riva should get it.

  3. Jeeez….you know, both Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain are marvelous actresses….having said that, I believe Lawrence gave the better performance. At 22, Lawrence shows the kind of range/skill that most actresses don’t even reach until they are in their 30’s. I look at it this way: Jennifer Lawrence, at 22 (!) is once again in the Oscar conversation after already being nominated only a couple of years ago. Lawrence once again has been nominated for Critics Choice, Sag, Globe and, has won up to seven critics awards for SLP and is in a tight race for the win against an actress 13 years her senior.. No matter how this Oscar race turns out, the fact remains that Jennifer Lawrence has indeed arrived as a serious actress and is the best actress of her generation (who else can challenge Lawrence?…in her age group?). I would also imagine that there are actresses older than Jennifer Lawrence who are very much aware by now, that in terms of talent (as well as likability, popularity) Jennifer Lawrence is a force to be reckoned with.

  4. I think this race is still wide open. Watts is getting a lot of buzz, too (people in the industry LOVE her) and Riva could pull a Cotillard. I’ve never felt confident that Lawrence could win this.

  5. It is sad to say, but the race for Best Actress appears to be a more secure lock for Jennifer Lawrence than Jessica Chastain. Why? Two things are still stuck in the minds of Academy voters. (1) Jennifer Lawrence merely two years ago received overwhelming postive reviews and more critical acclaim for her performance in Winter’s Bone than the eventually Best Actress Winner (Natalie Portman, Black Swan). (2) Ms. Lawrence has not only turned in a second amazing performance, but received excellent praise for both Silver Lining’s Playbook and The Hunger Games. The latter grossing over $400 million domestical becoming the highest grossing film to have a female headliner. Even though Jessica Chastain did receive an Oscar nomination last year for her supporting role for The Help, this performance was seriously over shadowed by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (Spencer of course winning the academy award for her performance in the film over Chastain). This being said, I think Zero Dark Thirty is going to continue to recieve alot of praise and attention, but I personally will be surpise if it wins anything real significant at the up-coming Academy Awards.

  6. It’s waaaaay too early to say that Lawrence is the best actress of her generation. Consider that many other actors her age are in school and/or theater and training right now. Lawrence has a ton of natural talent and charisma, but does she have the range to pull off something like Shakespeare or Ibsen? I hope she continues to develop as an actress.

  7. To David,

    I honestly think and believe if she keeps going in the direction she is already going, with the talent and potential she already has acquired, she will become even better with time and age. Some people do not like to believe there are natural’s out there, but she is someone that has a certain level of natural ability and what she has shown only at the young age of 22 has earned my vote. In fact, after seeing Winter’s Bone, I actually thought her performance was somewhat better than Natalie Portman’s who went on to win the Oscar for Black Swan. Another reason why I think Lawrence is going to win in the end for this up-coming Academy Awards is Silver Lining’s Playbook was all about performance mixing in an excellent blend of comedy with drama and laughter with tears. I am not a romantic comedy type of person, but it was good.

  8. Please do not get me wrong Zero Dark Thirty is a very well made movie all around with its acting, direction and screenplay, but it is more of a political think movie. A movie that will receive nominations, but will win very few.

  9. It’s a two horse race that is very close. Chastain has won slightly more honors from critics groups and her movie is better reviewed. I hope she gets it. Lawrence will have plenty of opportunities in the future, but leads in movies like ZDT don’t come around too often.

  10. Jennifer has a another great performance coming next year. She is outstanding and even if she doesn’t win this time, it’s a big deal for a 22-year-old woman to be nominated twice.

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