We all know that there are a few “sure bets” in this year’s Best Actress race – among them Cate Blanchett for Carol, Jennifer Lawrence for Joy, Carey Mulligan for Suffragette, Brie Larson for Room, Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn and maaaaaybe Julianne Moore for Freeheld. Indiewire has come up with a list of underdog hopefuls, though, who also deserve your Oscar consideration.
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Ever since “45 Years” won her the Silver Bear for acting at the Berlin Film Festival in February, buzz has been building for the Academy to finally honor Charlotte Rampling — indisputably one of the world’s greatest living actresses. She’s tremendous in Andrew Haigh’s study of a couple (Rampling and Tom Courtenay, also fantastic) whose 45 year wedding anniversary approaches as some of their old relationship history resurfaces. Switching it up from the book that inspired the film (David Constantine’s “In Another Country”), Haigh tells the story from Rampling’s character Kate’s perspective — and it leads to a genuine master class in performance. If anyone on this list has a real shot at an Oscar nod, it’s probably Rampling. Voters just need to make sure they see it.
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, Tangerine
The stories of transgender people have helped a lot of straight actors find awards season glory over the years. But wouldn’t it be nice if an actual transperson got a shot? Oscar voters can’t take all the blame. The amount of trans performers that have been given the material to warrant Oscar consideration is pretty much zero — until now, at least. Sean Baker’s “Tangerine” — which should end up at the top of many year-end top ten lists — is gearing up an Oscar campaign for actresses Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. They’re just as worthy (if not much more) as sure-fire nominee Eddie Redmayne, who plays a transwoman in “The Danish Girl.” Oscar voters will finally no longer have the excuse that there are “no great performances by trans actors to nominate”; they just need to become well aware of that fact between now and January.
Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back
Anyone who questions Sarah Silverman’s capabilities as a dramatic actress has probably not yet seen Adam Salky’s “I Smile Back.” Playing a drug-addicted housewife suffering from depression and compulsive behavior, Silverman (who showed signs of this promise in Sarah Polley’s “Take This Waltz”) is a full-on revelation. At times brutally raw, her performance transcends an occasionally flawed script and offers one of the truest depictions of addiction found on any screen in 2015. “Sarah Silverman, Oscar nominee” still sounds like a tall order, but at least make sure you go out and see “Smile” when it’s released in theaters later this month.
Blythe Danner, I’ll See You In My Dreams
At 72, Blythe Danner has never been nominated for an Oscar during her five decades in the business (though she does have two Emmys and two Tonys, so you don’t have to feel that sorry for her). Could that change with Brett Haley’s “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” a little indie that unexpectedly grossed $7.4 million this summer? Danner is endlessly charming in the film, playing a widow who forms a friendship with a young pool maintenance man (Martin Starr). Anyone who pops in a screener — one of the first to get out to voters — will recognize that any suggestion Danner would be a “sentimental” or “career” nomination is ageist bull. This is an actress at the top of her game, who just so happens to be in her seventies.
Keep reading for more possible nominees here.