Suggesting the French actress has been absent from the screen for too long, Riva's performance as an aging piano teacher cruelly felled by a stroke is powerful, unforced and devastating; you so identify with and feel for this woman -- and not just because fate is being so unkind. Riva, who first came to the attention of American audiences as the star of 1959's "Hiroshima mon Amour," is the oldest Best Actress nominee ever, which is probably going to have to be honor enough. Still, if Lawrence and Chastain split the vote, Riva could sneak in. And if she does, expect the Oscar audience's applause to be long and heartfelt.
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