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by Peter Knegt
October 9, 2012 1:30 PM
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For Your Consideration: 10 Underdog Actresses That Deserve Oscar's Attention This Year

Rachel Weisz
, The Deep Blue Sea
Music Box Films picked up Terence Davies's "The Deep Blue Sea" out of last year's Toronto International Film Festival and released it early this year. Hopefully, they will send some screeners to remind voters of the phenomenal work of Rachel Weisz, who stars in "Sea" as the wife of a British judge caught in a self-destructive love affair with a Royal Air Force pilot. But it's more likely Weisz will get lost in a sea of more established contenders this late in the game, suffering the same fate of Gillian Anderson - a non-nominated hopeful for another Davies film, "The House of Mirth," back in 2000.

Michelle Williams, Take This Waltz
Michelle Williams is quickly establishing herself as one of her generation's greatest actresses with yet another award-worthy performance in Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz." As a Torontonian woman questioning her generally happy marriage when she meets a sexy artist on a business trip, Williams manages the difficult task of making both likeable and relatable a woman who makes some very questionable decisions. If she manages it (though it would be a big surprise at this point), Williams could earn her third consecutive best actress Oscar nomination for the role, after "Blue Valentine" and "My Week With Marilyn." Though mind you she was just as deserving for non-nominated work in "Wendy and Lucy" and "Meek's Cutoff," and she'll likely manage many more nominations in the future if "Waltz" doesn't take to Oscar voters.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Smashed
You've probably seen Mary Elizabeth Winstead in films like "Final Destination 3," "The Ring Two" and "Live Free or Die Hard" but you might not recognize her in James Ponsoldt's "Smashed." Winstead plays Kate, a woman who decides to get sober after deciding that her alcohol abuse (which she shares with her husband, played by Aaron Paul) and is spiralling out of control. Sony Pictures Classics picked up the film out of Sundance and is planning a push for Winstead. If it ends up happening, it would be more than deserved for a performance that proves this actress is worth more than supporting roles in sequels.

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  • EBluntisfantastic | October 15, 2012 12:42 AMReply

    I think Emily BLunt deserves a nom for all her work in 2012. All her work in 2012 is amazing, she was the best in both Salmon / Engagement and deliver knockout performances in very strong movies Sister / Looper. I think she deserves to earn the praise of her peers like Anne or Natalie - she got overlooked for The Young Victoria too. Oh and btw, i read this in THR (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/ben-afflecks-argo-oscar-predictions-377402) that Sony is probably campaigning for Emily

  • Mike | October 12, 2012 9:25 PMReply

    Just saw Amour at NYFF the other day. I, of course, haven't seen performances from movies yet to come, but at this point if I were to give out the award, Emmanuelle Riva would definitely get it. She's so remarkable. Amazing work.

  • beezzzknees | October 10, 2012 1:56 PMReply

    Thanks Peter! Imagine it would be disturbing to see the costs associated with putting someone up for a significant award. It's a real shame talented actors like Dowd and Winstead in particular to likely be excluded from possible recognition outside of the indie-focused film awards.

  • bob hawk | October 10, 2012 3:24 AMReply

    There's already conjecture that Nicole Kidman (even though she has the largest female role) might be proposed for featured category. If she ends up there -- and wins -- it will be in the grand tradition of Shirley Jones in ELMER GANTRY and Dorothy Malone in WRITTEN ON THE WIND (among others) from an era in which being deliciously trashy was a lot more sanitized than (spoiler alert?) having to take the sting out of Zac Efron's jelly-fished flesh.

  • Michael | October 9, 2012 11:07 PMReply

    Political affiliation and devotion has always plagued contemporary American society.

  • beezzzknees | October 9, 2012 3:22 PMReply

    I'd be very interested in Indiewire breaking down the economics of a campaign for an awards season contender such as these female "Underdogs". Would any small/medium sized distribs even have the means to back anyone other than Nicole Kidman/Michelle Williams level talent? Just like campaign finance reform in politics, there should be a way for deserving talent to be recognized regardless of the deep pockets of studios.

  • Peter Knegt | October 9, 2012 4:15 PM

    I'd be very interested in that too, Beezzzknees (and will suggest it to Indiewire's editorial team). And it's true, a primary reason why 7 or 8 of these women won't get nominated is indeed economics.

  • joeblack | October 9, 2012 3:14 PMReply

    What about Greta Gerwig for Frances Ha or Damsels in Distress?!

  • Peter Knegt | October 9, 2012 4:14 PM

    She's mentioned in the opening few paragraphs, actually.