Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty

Twelve months ago the Best Actress award was a done deal long before the award was ever handed out as Meryl Streep picked up the gong for The Iron Lady.

I am delighted to say that this year the category has not run away favourite and it looks like it is going to go down to the wire.

While the performances by Naomi Watts, Emmanuelle Rive and Quvenzhane Wallis are all terrific the Best Actress category is now a two horse race.

The Baftas may have thrown a spanner in the works by giving their Best Actress award to Riva but it seems that on Sunday night it is going to be between Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence.

Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty

This nod makes it two in a row for Jessica Chastain as she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress twelve months ago for The Help.

In that time she has become one of the most in demand actresses in Hollywood and has tackled a wide rage of genres and roles.

Chastain takes on the role of CIA operative Maya in Zero Dark Thirty who is tasked with finding Osama Bin Laden in the biggest man hunt of all time.

The movie sees her team up with Oscar winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow for the very first time to deliver the performance of her career to date.

Chastain takes audiences on an emotional journey as she is a woman who is pushed to the edge in a male dominated world and she fights to get her voice heard.

It is a dominant performance from Chastain who has a real presence every time she is on screen - not to mention she gives audiences someone to root for and get behind.

The actress has already picked up an array of gongs and nominations picking up awards at the Golden Globes, Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards and National Board of Review Awards.

Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook

Jennifer Lawrence has also been Oscar nominated in the past as she picked up a Best Actress nod for her performance in Winter's Bone.

Since then, much like Chastain, she has gone on to mix and match her roles showing that she can tackle drama as well as the big budget blockbuster.

But it is dramatic roles where she has really excelled and Silver Linings Playbook has seen her deliver s truly knockout performance.

She takes on the role of Tiffany Maxwell a sex addicted widow who strikes up a friendship with Pat, who is trying to get life back together after a stint in a mental institution for bipolar.

This is the most demanding role of Lawrence's career to date as it sees her tackle some big and rather dark themes.

Lawrence may be young but she delivers a towering performance that is way beyond her years. She gets under the skin of this character and shows off her pain and her desperation.

Lawrence has also picked up some big gongs on the award's circuit including a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and Satellite Award.

Honours have been pretty even between these two over the last few weeks and it really is 50/50 as to who will be triumphant on Sunday night.

The Oscar winners will be revealed 24th February.

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