Will Jennifer Aniston finally win Oscar’s respect with stellar performance in ‘Cake’?

I don’t know why Jennifer Aniston doesn’t get more respect as an actress. Sure, she’s a tabloid magnet, but so are her Oscar-winning ex Brad Pitt and his Oscar-winning wife Angelina Jolie. And her resume is padded with dubious comedies, but so is Matthew McConaughey‘s. The academy was quick to celebrate his career “McConaissance” last year, so why not the “Anissance”? Her new indie drama “Cake” would be a good opportunity to do so.

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If you think Aniston will break through at the Oscars for the first time, click here to make your predictions in all top categories, or use our drag-and-drop menu at the bottom of this post to get started. Your predictions are combined with those of our Experts, Editors, and the rest of our Users to generate our racetrack odds, and if you have the best predictions when Oscar nominations are announced in January, you win $1,000. The best predictors will be featured next year among our Top 24 Users, who have even greater influence over our odds.

The film, which stars Aniston as a woman suffering chronic pain after a devastating accident, earned the actress praise when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and it was snatched up by new distributor Cinelou Releasing for an Oscar-qualifying run in December, followed by an official release in January.

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There’s still room to maneuver in the Best Actress race, unlike Best Actor, where there already seem to be a dozen candidates vying for the five slots, with latecomers like David Oyelowo (“Selma“) and Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper“) still trying to squeeze in. That’s mostly because Hollywood doesn’t make or promote nearly as many prestige films about women as they do about men. Cate Blanchett addressed the problem when accepting her Best Actress Oscar last year for “Blue Jasmine,” saying, “Audiences want to see [films with women at the center], and in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people!”

As a result, the Best Actress field only has a few reasonably safe bets at this stage of the game (Julianne Moore in “Still Alice” and Reese Witherspoon in “Wild“), with a few other strong possibilities (like Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl,” Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything,” Hilary Swank in “The Homesman” and Amy Adams in “Big Eyes“), but still room for a late-stage surprise like Aniston.

Standing in her way may be the mixed reviews for the film itself. Several critics do admire it, like Betsey Sharkey (Los Angeles Times), who wrote, “For all the pain, grief, sadness and suicide that layers ‘Cake,’ it is a serious treat to see the actress stretch herself. Hopefully this film won’t turn out to be a single slice.”

Gregory Ellwood (HitFix) adds, “And as much as ‘Cake’ is something of a comeback for [director Daniel Barnz], it’s really on most people’s radar for being a rare dramatic turn for Jennifer Aniston, and she doesn’t disappoint.”

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But even some of the less favorable reviews for the film have been favorable of its star. Said Justin Chang (Variety), “A strong if self-consciously deglammed performance from Jennifer Aniston deserves more honest story treatment than it gets.” Leslie Felperin (Hollywood Reporter) argues the film “is less emotionally potent than it wants to be,” but that Aniston “submits an honest, sturdy performance.”

But a bigger challenge than winning over critics might be the film’s upstart distributor, which is diving in the deep end of the Oscar pool and may have an uphill battle against the industry’s campaign heavyweights, who have gotten a head start. By the time “Cake” opens in late December, it could be challenging for a small film to build momentum.

At the very least, though, “Cake” could earn Aniston another invitation to the Independent Spirit Awards, which nominated her for Best Actress more than a decade ago for another film that deserved more kudos than it got, “The Good Girl.” The Spirit Awards have been inching closer and closer to the Oscar mainstream with each passing year – last year Best Feature and all four acting races matched the subsequent Oscar champs – but there’s usually still room for a few truly unsung indies to be nominated.

Do you think Aniston could be an Oscar dark horse? Use our drag-and-drop menu below to predict Best Actress.

6 thoughts on “Will Jennifer Aniston finally win Oscar’s respect with stellar performance in ‘Cake’?

  1. Excuse me, but this is shamefully ridiculous. So let me get this straight. Actresses like Reese Witherspoon (Wild) and Jennifer Aniston (Cake) get so much Oscar buzz in a year where the greatest actress of all time who goes by the name of the one and only Marion Cotillard gave not only the absolute best female performance of this year (Two Days, One Night) but also the absolute second best performance of the year (The Immigrant), both of them among the 10 greatest performances of all time (male or female) and both of them still considered long shots? The “Anissance”? What is this bullshit? Jennifer Aniston suddenly proved herself equal in terms of acting to an always clearly incredible actor like Matthew McConaughey who just wasted his immense talent in light rom-coms? If she’s clearly really good in something else than a mindless chick flick, does that makes her great or Oscar-worthy? Jesus Christ! Is this the Academy Awards or the People’s Choice Awards? Let’s clear things up once and for all, shall we? An actress like Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon or Sandra Bullock is talented, that’s for sure but they belong to a long list of well known stars (and mostly former “America’s sweethears” – an actress as incredibly talented as Jennifer Lawrence could never be part of that group) who, while having some undeniable acting virtues and screen magnetism, have also undeniable limitations in terms of acting. They’re not actresses like Marion Cotillard, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet and many more that have never won an Oscar like Isabelle Huppert, Lesley Manville, Jessica Chastain, Amy Adams, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, just to name a few, all of them actresses of otherwordly talent in acting, tremendous technical skills, obviously limitless depth and an almost terrifying level of commitment to every role they so brilliantly portrays on screen or on stage. And that constant desire to defy every expectation of their audience, approach not even a single role as an Oscar vehicle and take risks that seem almost inconceivable. Well, those ladies deserve five Oscar nominations each. Jennifer Aniston or Reese Witherspoon are not even half of the actors they are. Academy voters, please, don’t underestimate the intelligence and knowledge of the audience that much, will you?

  2. McConaughey had pre-McConaissance already given some great performances (A Time to Kill, Frailty, Lone Star, etc.). He only got an Oscar nom after having a string of exceptional performances in 7 critically acclaimed films and after winning Indie Spirit noms/critics awards the previous year for Magic Mike, Bernie and Killer Joe.

    Aniston has never done anything comparable.

  3. Are you serious? haha Jennifer is a shitty actress, no way. You only have to compare great actresses like Julianne, Jessica Ch, Amy. I think is gonna be Julianne.

  4. Seriously, “snatched” by a distributor? It is the same company that produced it that formed a new company to distribute it. After TIFF it sat on the shelf for 50 days with nobody interested in distributing it. Sign of desperation…obviously. Aniston and Oscar do not belong in a sentence.

  5. No!!!This sounds like another pr paid ckmmercisl. There is more thsn wearingg no make up, and by thr way her eyebrows look great. Lol.

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