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Ranking the Oscar nominees: best actress

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

In descending order:

Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"

Judi Dench, "Philomena"

Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County"

Amy Adams, "American Hustle"

Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"

Four previous Oscar winners here, all but Adams, and she's been nominated before. But Blanchette kicks it (and if she loses, I'd blame the latest Woody Allen controversy, not her.) Dench gives a subtly drawn performance, and makes no attempt to push her character into adorability or extra sympathy; she simply is who she is, without apology, and that's what makes her marvelous foil for the snooty Coogan. Streep is terrifying in her role, but it's not the best here. I love Amy Adams, and she is quite good in "Hustle," and Bullock does excellent work in "Gravity." So I have moved this list around more than once, and would not scream if, say, Dench beat Blanchett.

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