Battle for Oscar Gold: The Actress Edition

Best Actress: Rooney Mara got tattoed, Michelle Williams went platinum, Meryl Streep put on a British accent and Viola Davis went southern.

It's been a splendid year for actresses in motion pictures, and the Academy Awards are mere hours away. Let's state the case for each actress who could potentially win this year's Best Actress Oscar.

1. Michelle Williams- The former "Dawson's Creek" actress went platinum, pale and got a beauty mark to play the most famous female icon of all time, Marilyn Monroe. Not only did she look the part, Williams captured the essence and despair of the beautiful starlet. "My Week with Marilyn" could be classified as a drama, as it show the depths of Monroe's insecurities and vulnerability, however the HFPA classified the film as a "Comedy or Musical." Either way, Williams played her part perfectly, and it's impossible to take your eyes off Williams just as it was when Monroe was on screen.

2. Rooney Mara- The young actress may be considered a trust fund baby from football royalty, but Mara's willingness to let herself go and transform into the character of Lisbeth Salandar from the beloved book "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is something to be valued. There's stress of topping the brilliant performance by Noomi Rapace in the original Swedish version of "Girl" and the intense, graphic, violent scenes the actress had to play. She may not have gotten the actual tattoos, but Mara endured several piercings, dyed her hair jet black and bleached her eyebrows to look like Salander. Talk about dedication.


3. Viola Davis- Davis is an all-star and has proved to be an actress among actresses in several films including "Doubt," "State of Play" and "Eat Pray Love." It wasn't until this year's "The Help" that this fine actress got her chance to shine. Her portrayal of Aibileen, the film's narrator and star, was powerful enough to carry the two hour and 17 min film alone. Will her efforts garner herself an Oscar win or will Ms. Streep steal the gold?

4. Meryl Streep- You either love her or you hate her, like BH's own editor John Nolte, but either way she was impressive in "The Iron Lady." I haven't been disappointed with any of her performances and some of my favorites include recent films "The Devil Wears Prada" and "It's Complicated." But it's her performance as the one and only British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that's got the Oscar buzz moving. Maybe if she wins this time she can actually thank Ms. Thatcher in her acceptance speech. The film isn't that much without the talent of Streep, which leads me to believe that the actress' name alone can save any picture.

5. Glenn Close- The five-time Academy Award nominated actress comes back in the starring role as the title character in "Albert Nobbs," a woman forced to live as a man in 19th Century Ireland. Any other year Close may have won, but there are too many other exceptional performances that out-shined this one last year. The fact that she's already been nominated five times may garner her a win, but otherwise the film was pretty blah.

This is a really tough category and it's definitely between Streep and Davis, but the odds are more in Davis' favor. Academy's Pick: Viola Davis,"The Help" My Pick: Michelle Williams in "My Week with Marilyn" for her stunning transformation into Ms. Monroe.

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Best Supporting Actress: This will certainly be the most difficult of categories from which to pick an absolute best performance. I loved all of these performances and I think all of the noms are well deserved. I only wish Shailene Woodley was in there for "The Descendants" over Janet McTeer, but The Academy never fails to be out of touch with something.

Here are my thoughts on each of the starlets up for this year's Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

1. Bérénice Bejo- Gorgeous Argentine-French actress Bejo first came across the screen in 2011's "A Knight's Tale." It wasn't until last year's critically praised black and white film, "The Artist," that true recognition came her way. As I was watching the film, I immediately fell in love with her character Peppy, an extra turned famous silent film star. I come from a theater background, so I know its not so simple to pull off a silent role. Bejo just took my breath away.

2. Melissa McCarthy- It would be amazing for McCarthy to take home this honor, but I think the Academy nominating her is as far as they're going to go on this one. "Bridesmaids" was the highest grossing female-cast comedy of all-time. I find myself watching the Blu-ray over and over and never failing to laugh at Megan, McCarthy's blunt character. Megan was thrown into the crazy bridal party because she is the groom's sister and not only is she the most hysterical, she also has the best head on her shoulders out of the entire zany crew. I'm thrilled the Academy recognized this comedy in some form this year.

3. Jessica Chastain- I love Jessica Chastain. She was one of my breakout stars of 2011 and with films like "The Debt," "The Tree of Life," "Take Shelter" and "The Help," for which she was nominated, it's no wonder why this fresh face was recognized. "The Help" is a story about life in Mississippi in the 1960s and Chastain plays Celia Foote, a woman who's desperate to fit in with high society, while she finds comfort in her only friend, her maid, Minnie (other nominee Octavia Spencer). It's her performance in this film and her ability to completely transform into each role that put her on my favorite list of actresses.

4. Janet McTeer- The British actress was nominated once before for her role in "Tumbleweeds" and her recent performance as Hubert opposite Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs" gained her enough buzz for an Oscar nom. But was it enough to beat out the other incredible performances this past year? My guess is no. Although her performance may have been considered award-worthy, the film itself is pretty blasé.

5. Octavia Spencer- Where would Spencer be on Feb. 26th if it weren't for her good friend Tate Taylor, director of The Help? Probably at home, watching the Oscars on TV, like she was doing last year. It's amazing what one performance can do for your career. Spencer played the loud-mouthed, opinionated Minnie Jackson in "The Help," which recognized her as a successful African American actress. I can't wait to see what the next step for her is, but for now I hope she's enjoying this moment.

Academy's Pick: Octavia Spencer, "The Help" My Pick: Octavia Spencer was just amazing in her breakthrough performance as Minnie, a star is on the rise!


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