The picture above is of Melissa Leo from the Sundance winning film Frozen River.
Yea, I've never heard of Melissa Leo before, either. Yet, according to imdb.com this 48 year old actress has 10 acting credits to her name alone in 2008. Her biggest acting credit up to this point seems to be a regular role in the TV show Homicide: Life on the Streets.
Yet Melissa Leo is one of the names that is getting thrown around as a buzzed-about Oscar contender for this years Award season. Her role in Frozen River is about border smuggling between New York State and Quebec on a Mohawk Indian Reservation. This small film, and her role in it, is just one of the buzzed performance by lesser known actresses who are already getting buzz.
Another "smaller names" getting buzz at this point are names like Sally Hawkin's in Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky.
Or there are also some bigger names in smaller films, like Michelle Williams in Wendy & Lucy, Kristin Scott Thomas in the french-language film I Loved You So Long, and Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married.
There are also the constant names we expect to hear heading into award show...including frequent "shoe-ins" Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Meryl Streep (Doubt), Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road), and Nicole Kidman (Australia).
Always on the fringe of a potential nomination is Angelina Jolie (Changling). And as you'd expect there is some buzz for Emily Blunt (Young Victoria), and Keira Knighley (The Duchess)
I also still think Sophie Okonedo (Skin) has a chance as well, but I haven't heard anything about a release date.
The point is, at this point I've been wanting to put together a top 5 prediction list, but it honestly is really hard...it's a tough year at this stage in the game to balance these big names, with the big buzz, and try to find out what's going to come together in the end.
Perhaps there's not a lot of roles for actresses in Hollywood these past couple years, but that doesn't mean the list of potentials, at least at this stage in the game, is short.
Do you think there's anyone I've missed? Do you have any thoughts on this years race or these films/performances?
I will try to take a leap and make some predictions soon. Honestly, it was much easier to predict the lead actor race at this stage in the game.