Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Jennifer Aniston stars in Cake, a drama in which she plays a woman plagued by chronic pain. For this role, Aniston bravely went where few movie stars dare to venture – 100 per cent make-up free. “I didn’t have any second thoughts about it. It was a woman who had given up and she was heartbroken. I was ready, willing and eager to do it. No second thoughts. Not one,” says Aniston.
Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything, playing the wife of theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking:
“Stephen came to set to watch and he’s very witty. Eddie Redmayne and I were talking with him, trying not to look like the total idiots who were about to re-enact his life. He watched us film for an hour, and we were nervously waiting to hear what he thought. Then he rather funnily wrote, ‘Would someone ask Felicity if she would give me a kiss?’” (Laughs.) “He’s very flirtatious and has a real presence. He has a rock star quality.”
Julianne Moore for Still Alice, in which she plays a woman grappling with early onset Alzheimer’s:
“One of the reasons people are touched by the movie is that this is a woman in the prime of her life taking a look at what’s important, rather than [saying], ‘Oh my neck looks old!’ It makes me think how lucky I am to have the children I have, the husband I have, and the career I have.”
Rosamund Pike stars opposite Ben Affleck in the thriller Gone Girl. Her character epitomises the adage, ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’
“She was pretty unusual in her revenge strategy. She knows of her husband’s affair for over a year and then she comes with the meticulous planning, the anger that can boil to a point that is truly scary. She’s the ultimate narcissist. And we are in a narcissistic epidemic. Look at all these little kids wearing T-shirts that say, ‘The Boss,’ ‘Little Princess,’ ‘I’m Too Cute,’ or ‘My Mummy Thinks I’m Hot.’ They are encouraged at school to sing songs about why they’re special and expectations run sky high. But I don’t believe anyone is born evil. You have to look at their childhood.”
Reese Witherspoon stars in Wild, a biopic of Cheryl Strayed, who came to terms with her personal traumas and addictions by hiking along the Pacific Coast Trail.
“As a mum, I don’t have the time to go and get off the grid, so instead I get a chai tea latte with soy milk and a shot of espresso. It’s good on ice, too. But on a more serious note, when I read Cheryl’s book, it was life changing for me. It expressed ideas that I thought but couldn’t articulate. So much of it is about finding inner strength.”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Steve Carell is not only physically unrecognisable as the ultimate creepy millionaire, John E. du Pont, in Foxcatcher (the real-life story of an Olympic wrestler, starring Channing Tatum), but his character couldn’t be more different from his much beloved 40-Year-Old Virgin.
“It took three hours every day to look like du Pont and took an hour to take it off. And I have to tell you that the look was so off-putting to people, it was inadvertently beneficial because people steered clear of me, especially Channing.”
Benedict Cumberbatch plays British mathematician Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. Turing intercepted coded messages during WWII, to help defeat the Nazis.
“Through the simple fact of Turing not denying his nature he became a gay icon. He never asked to be in the limelight, didn’t want to be a martyr and didn’t even promote his own work, which was to develop a machine we now call a computer. Homosexual men are still punished in certain parts of the world, so sadly his tale is prevalent. Not because he saved millions of lives as a cryptographer but the prejudice he endured that still exists. So in many ways it’s a modern tale.”
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Nightcrawler, a film about an ambitious photographer who shoots footage of car accidents and crime scenes to sell to news channels.
“I don’t know if I’d call him a sociopath or a psychopath. He is the metaphor of the idea of being successful at any cost. I think he’s a product of our culture.” Gyllenhaal’s character drives a flashy car that affords him the ability to arrive at crime scenes well before the police. The actor says doesn’t have much in common with his character. “Well, the last time I drove a car was my mum’s Prius, which lives in my sister’s garage. I live in New York so I don’t drive often.”
In Selma, David Oyelowo immerses himself in the role of Dr. Martin Luther King.
“My wife thought I was talking like Dr. King throughout the shoot and one day she called me to ask which curtains we should buy. She said, ‘I can’t talk about this subject while you’re Dr. King. Let’s wait until after the film.’ So for her, she felt like she was having an affair with another man for three months. And as far as racial prejudice goes, I’m British and I know what it’s like to be a black man. I have lived in Europe, I’ve spent seven years in Nigeria and I have lived in America for seven years. It’s a very, very different experience in every place.”
Eddie Redmayne, on meeting Stephen Hawking, who he portrays in The Theory of Everything:
“When I first met him I was struggling to fill the gaps because it takes him a while to speak, so I said to him, ‘Your birthday is January the 8th and mine is January 6th, so we’re both Capricorns.’ He looked at me and started typing on his machine and said in his iconic voice, ‘I’m an astronomer not an astrologer.’ I broke out into a horrific sweat, thinking that he thought the guy who would be playing him in the biopic actually thought he was a horoscope writer.”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Amy Adams plays the lead in Big Eyes, a film based on the life of artist Margaret Keane, whose work was fraudulently claimed by her then-husband.
“I know women like Margaret and even though I’m of a modern generation where relationships are equitable, to some degree in my early relationships I’ve probably fallen victim to men treating me unkindly and not having a voice to stand up to them. I look at it now and think, ‘How in the world could I have let them speak to me like that?’ Every woman’s different but it took me a long time to be really strong in myself.”
Emily Blunt plays The Baker’s Wife in the ensemble fairytale musical, Into the Woods.
“The ultimate irony is that I was playing a woman who couldn’t have kids while I was pregnant in real life. I was going through something so magical and I understand the desperation to have a child and I think a lot of people would relate to that. And being a mum is magical. It’s the best. But being in a musical, I’ve always [been] knee-knocking nervous to sing in front of people. I’d been asked to audition for Les Miserables and Mamma Mia! and Nine but I didn’t think I was good enough. Singing in front of people is a personal, intimate experience. That’s why you get drunk before you do karaoke.”
In The Hundred-Foot Journey, Helen Mirren plays the capable and stoic chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant in a beautiful village in France.
“In real life I have self-doubt like anybody. I have moments where I feel useless and hopeless and a failure. The most important thing through all that is that you just carry on.”
Julianne Moore on being nominated for her role as a ruthlessly ambitious actress in Maps to the Stars:
“We all love to be validated and the award season is a celebration of people’s work. I remember I was so excited when Game Change (an HBO film about Sarah Palin) got a Golden Globe. Getting an award makes you very confident, but at the end of the day, the important thing is having something to work on.”
Quvenzhane Wallis on staring in the titular role in Annie:
“Singing was never something I was professional at but [I] liked doing it. And like Annie, I’m a go-getter. We have that in common.” Though Wallis has starred in two hit movies (including Beasts of the Southern Wild, for which she became the youngest actress to ever earn an Academy award nomination at age nine), she remains very much a child. “I’m 11 years old, so of course I believe in fairies. If you don’t believe in fairies you’re making one mad. How can I not? All my dreams have already come true.”
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Ralph Fiennes on playing the oddball concierge in the oh-so-quirky The Grand Budapest Hotel:
“I actually worked in a hotel, the Brown’s hotel in London, before I went to drama school. I was a house porter, which meant I had to change shower curtains and light globes, as well as hoover corridors and polish the brass. I got to wear a uniform and carry suitcases. A lady once asked me if I would help run a bath for her, but I said no. I couldn’t possibly do that.”
Michael Keaton plays a washed up Hollywood actor known for his superhero role as Birdman before leaving the franchise. Keaton knows something about the subject – he played Batman in 1989 – and offers an interesting take on the struggles of celebrity.
“I was very fortunate to play Batman but even more fortunate to play Birdman because this role is something I don’t think anyone’s done before. But about being famous, I’m not someone who rages about the burden. It’s not a burden if you do it right. And I purposely live a dull life so there’s nothing to get too interested in.”
Bill Murray plays a drunken war veteran retiree with a penchant for the racetrack in the heartwarming comedy, St. Vincent:
“I have had some good fortune at the racetrack at The Belmont Park, the same place in New York where we shot in the movie. And although I won money that day, I remember being at that racetrack and the afternoon turned into me being the special attraction, a bit like having a llama at a birthday party. So, I ended up signing autographs all day and taking photos.”
Joaquin Phoenix plays a highly irregular private investigator in Inherent Vice, set in the 1970s:
“I did not enjoy the sideburns; I had to have them for a really long time and they were real. I had to look at a lot of photos of Neil Young, which was the inspiration for the look. That part wasn’t fun.”
In Big Eyes, Christoph Waltz plays the reprehensible husband of the artist Margaret Keane, whose work he claimed as his own. This is yet another villainous role for the Austrian-born actor.
“I don’t even say the word villain; I just call it ‘the V word.’ And of course the German accent represented the Nazis straight after the war, so you didn’t even need to say, ‘he’s playing the V,’ you’d just say, ‘he has a German accent.”