LOS ANGELES — The best actress category at the 95th Academy Awards is full of great drama awards, from Andrea Riseborough’s surprise nomination to the potential history of Michelle Yeoh winning, which AP writers predict will happen.
All will be celebrated during Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, which airs live on ABC from 8 p.m. east. There’s still time to catch up on their performances before the show.
Here’s a little more about the contenders.
ANA DE ARMAS
“Blonde” may have been reviled by many critics, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t admire Ana de Armas’ portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. De Armas prepared for a year and threw herself into the fire on her first day on set: In the actual apartment where Norma Jeane lived with her mother — a nightmarish sequence in which she rescues a baby from the dresser drawer in which she was kept as an infant as the place burns around her. Her second day was her visit to her mother in the mental hospital, where she spoke to the camera for the first time as Marilyn.
“I was out of character the whole time. But … I felt this weight and this weight on my shoulders. And I felt that sadness,” de Armas said. “It was all I could think about. It was all I dreamed of. It was all I talked about.”
Trivia: De Armas is the first Cuban to be nominated for Best Actress.
“Tár” wouldn’t exist without Cate Blanchett, because Todd Field, the writer and director, wouldn’t do it with anyone else. This might be Hollywood glamor to most, but with Field you believe it. In the process of preparing to play Lydia Tár, the fictional conductor of a German orchestra, she would learn to play the piano, speak German and conduct an orchestra, all of which she actually does in the film.
“I’m still processing the experience, not only because it spoke to a lot of things I’ve been thinking about, but I feel so expanded to have been in Todd’s orbit,” Blanchett said. “It was a very, very fluid, dangerous, live process of making the film.”
Lifetime Oscar Nominations: 8
Wins: 2. Best Actress for “The Aviator” in 2005 and Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine” in 2014
Notable wins: Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup, BAFTA, Golden Globes (Drama).
Riseborough was unexpectedly nominated for her portrayal of an alcoholic single mother from Texas in the indie drama “To Leslie,” a choice that shocked Oscar insiders and led to an investigation into campaign techniques by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Riseborough rose through the ranks of the Oscars thanks in large part to the grassroots efforts of “To Leslie” director Michael Morris and his wife, the actress Mary McCormack. They invited stars to watch the film and either host a screening or praise Riseborough’s performance on social media. And many of them did: Kate Winslet, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Amy Adams and Courteney Cox all hosted screenings of the film.
Following a review of the campaign, the Academy said Andrea Riseborough would not be stripped of her nomination.
The pivotal event of “The Fabelmans” comes when Mitzi Fabelman, a fictionalized version of Steven Spielberg’s mother played by Michelle Williams, reluctantly leaves her husband for his best friend.
“I thought he had already had a near-death experience. When she gave up her dream of becoming a concert pianist, she experienced what it’s like to have a part of you die,” says Williams. “So when faced with another near-death experience — Do I stay in this marriage or do I allow myself to go where my heart leads? — he knows he cannot die again. There will be nothing left of her.
“What is this thing inside her that allows her to make this decision? Is it her art? Is it bravery? Is how big are her feelings? What allowed this woman to claim her life like this?’ says Williams. “I don’t know, but I believe that’s what allowed her children to do the same thing, risk their lives. That, I think, is one of the greatest gifts you give your children, showing them how they can be whole people.”
Lifetime Oscar Nominations: 5
After decades first as a star in Hong Kong cinema and then more mainstream hits like “Tomorrow Never Dies” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Malaysian-born Yeoh has evolved into a movie queen. He had integral roles in what were the first major US studio films in years with Asian casts – “Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” and Marvel Studios’ “Crazy Rich Asians.” As much as these films mean to her, she was a stylish supporting player in them – then came ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’.
Daniels originally named the multiverse hopping matriarch Michelle, as a “love letter” to Yeoh. But then she asked to change that and Evelyn was born.
“I’m like, ‘No, no, no,’ because I think this person, this character that you wrote so richly, deserves a voice of their own. It’s the voice of those moms, aunts, grandmas you pass in Chinatown or the supermarket that you don’t give a second glance to. Then you just take her for granted,” Yeoh said. “He never had a voice.”
Trivia: If Yeoh were to win, she would become the first Asian woman to be awarded in this category.
Notable wins: Golden Globes (Musical/Comedy), Screen Actors Guild, Film Independent Spirit Award.
For more on this year’s Academy Awards, visit: http://www.apnews.com/academy-awards.