BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (REUTERS) - The nominees for best actress at the 86th Annual Academy Awards areAmy Adams for "American Hustle," Cate Blanchett for "Blue Jasmine," Sandra Bullock for "Gravity," Judi Dench for "Philomena," and Meryl Streep for "August:Osage County."
The front-runner for the best actress Oscar this year is Australian Cate Blanchett, 44, who has swept all the lead actress prizes so far this year for her role as a down-on-her-luck former socialite in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine." This year's nomination is Blanchett's sixth, having been previously nominated for her leading roles in 1998's "Elizabeth" and her reprisal of that role for 2007's "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," and her supporting roles in 2006's "Notes on a Scandal" and 2004's "The Aviator," for which she won the Oscar. "Blue Jasmine" marked a return to film work for Blanchett, who took several years off to focus on her family and theater work in Australia.
Sandra Bullock earned the second Oscar nomination of her career for the special effects-rich film "Gravity," in which she plays an astronaut in a harrowing fight to survive after an accident leaves her adrift in open space. Bullock, 49, previously won best actress for the 2010 film "The Blind Side," and has been one of Hollywood's highest-earning female stars for years, after first blasting on to the scene in the 1994 film "Speed" opposite Keanu Reeves. Other notable films include the "Miss Congeniality" franchise," 2009's "The Proposal," and another 2013 film, "The Heat," opposite Melissa McCarthy.
Dame Judi Dench, 79, earned her seventh Oscar nomination as an Irish woman's search for her son, who was taken away from her after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent, in "Philomena." Although working in film and theater since the 1950s in her native Britain, Dench became well-known in her later years after taking on the role of M in the 1995 James Bond film "GoldenEye," which she reprised in seven Bond films, the last being 2012's "Skyfall." She was previously nominated for best actress for 1997's "Mrs. Brown," 2001's "Iris," 2005's "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and 2006's "Notes on a Scandal," and was nominated in the supporting actress category for 2000's "Chocolat" and 1999's "Shakespeare in Love," for which she won the Oscar.
And rounding out the category is veteran star Meryl Streep, who earned her record setting 18th nomination for an Oscar with her work in "August: Osage County," in which she plays a strong-willed, pill-addicted matriarch of a dysfunctionalOklahoma family. She has won three Oscars, best actress for the 2012 film "The Iron Lady," in which she played former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, best actress for the 1982 film "Sophie's Choice," and best supporting actress for 1978's "Kramer Vs. Kramer."
The 86th Annual Academy Awards will be handed out in a live telecast ceremony held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, March 2nd.