In the best actress category, all five women nominated return as familiar faces to Oscar voters -- all having braved the Hollywood and Highland red carpet as Academy Awards nominees in years past, some hailed as winners.
On Thursday, the academy chose to honor “American Hustle’s” Amy Adams, Sandra Bullock for “Gravity,” Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine,” “Philomena” star Judi Dench and perennial Oscar favorite Meryl Streep for “August: Osage County.”
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Reached at home Thursday morning, Bullock said she was preparing school lunch for her 4-year old son. The actress, who won a lead actress Oscar for 2009’s “The Blind Side,” said she was not actively seeking movie roles when she was contacted by “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuaron to portray an astronaut struggling for survival after a disaster.
She also said she had no expectations about the movie’s commercial or critical reception.
“When you do movies like ‘Speed 2,’ you don’t have directors saying, ‘You know what? I’m going to work with her one day!’” Bullock said with a laugh. “It was always a joke on my part saying, ‘Maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity to work with someone like Alfonso.' And when the opportunity came, I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer but I was smart enough to climb aboard.”
After having landed Oscar nominations a staggering 17 times before, three-time Academy Award winner Streep, 64, earned her nod for portraying the acid-tongued matriarch of a dysfunctional Oklahoma family in the big-screen adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play “August: Osage County.”
At 79, Dench arrives as the oldest nominee in the category. The Dame Commander of the British Empire, whose resume as a film and stage actress is littered with Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards -- and who portrayed the spy boss M in seven James Bond films and won a supporting actress Oscar in 1998 for “Shakespeare in Love” -- plays a working-class Irish mother in “Philomena.” She enlists a journalist (portrayed by Steve Coogan) to help locate the son she was forced to give up for adoption decades earlier in the drama.
Australian actress Blanchett won the 2005 supporting actress Oscar for her performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator” (in addition to two prior Academy Award nominations). Thursday’s honor comes on the heels of Blanchett’s Golden Globes win Sunday night (in the lead actress in a motion picture drama category) for her turn as the distraught wife of a Bernie Madoff-like Ponzi schemer who must reinvent herself in San Francisco after losing her fortune in “Blue Jasmine.”
Adams also won a Golden Globe (for lead actress in a motion picture comedy or musical) Sunday night, and was Oscar-nominated four times previously for her supporting roles in “The Master,” “The Fighter,” “Doubt” and “Junebug.” The 39-year-old said she was asleep at home in Los Angeles on Thursday when she learned of her latest Academy Award nomination. The “American Hustle” star expressed disbelief to have been singled out in a year so full of strong performances.
“I cannot believe that I am nominated in the company I’m with,” Adams said. “Even if you told me a year ago, if you could name four women I look up to, it’s amazing. Judi Dench, Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett have always been the people I said I want to be like when I grow up. Sandra is someone I’ve gotten to know through the years and she couldn’t be a more graceful and lovely human being. Also a tremendous actress. It’s so cool to be in the company of these other women.”