Jennifer Aniston hopes to score a Best Actress nomination with ‘Cake’

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One of the more interesting things about film festivals is seeing how the various well regarded independent films are handled once the tests end. Some seek to capitalize on their buzz and open as soon as possible, while others strategically plan to begin their release later on in the year, or the next year entirely. In the case of Cake, the Jennifer Aniston led dark comedy was initially planning to be held back until 2015, but now it’s seeking to upend the Best Actress race with a late 2014 push. Aniston was snubbed once before for The Good Girl, so could Cake represent a chance for the Academy to make it up to her? It’s far from a sure thing, but something tells me that this isn’t something to sleep on. A long shot? Perhaps, but one to consider at the very least.

Cake is a dark comedy/drama with Aniston headlining a cast that includes Anna Kendrick, the late Misty Upham, William H. Macy, Britt Robertson, Lucy Punch, Chris Messina, Sam Worthington, Mamie Gummer, and Felicity Huffman. Daniel Barnz is in the director’s chair, while Patrick Tobin wrote the screenplay. At the Toronto Film Festival, some buzz began for the movie, mostly centered around Aniston’s performance. Now, it’s been picked up for distribution and is planning a 2014 campaign for her in Best Actress, beginning with a one week qualifying run at some point in December.

Aniston has only really been in serious contention for an Oscar nomination once before, when she was the toast of the town for The Good Girl. That nod never wound up happening, and she’s never come close since. Now though, it’s possible that a nom could be within reach, especially considering that there’s at least one spot wide open in the Best Actress category. At the very least, this is her best chance since that snub.

Something to consider in her benefit is the wealth of strong reviews she received out of Toronto. Also, the bottom half of the Best Actress race is perfectly set up for one more contender. Aniston would have to jump up over a lot of other hopefuls, but none of them are particularly untouchable in any way, shape, or form. A few citations on the precursor circuit could easily begin to sway people to really consider this candidacy. Perception can sometimes become reality, so if Aniston is deemed a truly viable contender, that will get voters thinking about her.

On the other side of the equation, Cake is being distributed by a more or less unknown company, and that never bodes well in awards races. A campaign relies on money to a large degree, so much like with politics, but the big guns/well financed contenders tend to come out on top. The somewhat mixed reviews for the film itself will limit the amount of Academy members who actually see it as well. Oscar nominations can happen from time to time for lesser movies, but it’s more the exception than the rule.

The end result is that Aniston most likely will fall short again in her quest for an Academy Award nomination, but at the very least she’s currently in play right now. I’ll be keen to see how the campaign is handled, because I’m sure some voters remember her work in The Good Girl. If they like this role as much, or more, then some votes could go her way. I need to be convinced that she’ll be on enough ballots to really threaten for a nomination, but when I update my predictions next week (which is also next month) I’ll have her hovering around the second tier of Best Actress contenders. That’s something…the rest is up to her.

Stay tuned to see how she does!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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