Jennifer Aniston serves ‘Cake’ in LA as Best Actress nomination chances increase

WEST HOLLYWOOD – On Wednesday it was Reese. On Thursday it was Shailene. On Friday it was Jennifer…

…Aniston. Yes, this year's Best Actress contenders continued to celebrate their films with awards season events and Thursday night featured a special screening of Daniel Barnz's “Cake,” where a post-show party at the Sunset Tower Hotel found Aniston, obviously, the center of attention.

“Cake” stars Aniston as Claire, a woman whose life has come to something of a stand still because of chronic pain she's suffered from a major car accident. It's an impressive performance by the popular actress that I praised in my review of the film from the Toronto Film Festival a few months ago, and hinted she could be an awards season player. Speaking to Aniston Friday night, she admitted that after some roles, directors and producers “box” you into a certain mold for a certain kind of a movie. In the case of “Cake,” however, she's thrilled that Barnz and the film's producers saw enough in her previous work to think she could fill Clarie's shoes. And if this leads to more unexpected opportunities? She'll take 'em.

Aniston had some important supporters on hand including her fiancé Justin Theroux and buddy Jimmy Kimmel. Overall, the event was an intriguing mix of industry and key press perfectly timed as the Best Actress race becomes more and more of a head-scratcher.

Clearly there are four presumed locks in the race for a nomination at the moment: frontrunner Julianne Moore for “Still Alice” (a movie that incidentally premiered in the same theater right after “Cake” at Toronto), Reese Witherspoon for “Wild,” Felicity Jones for “The Theory of Everything” and Rosamund Pike for “Gone Girl.” Although Pike has been off the circuit because of the impending birth of her second child; she could be a surprise omission, or solidify her standing based on SAG and critics' groups honors (a Globe nod is a given).   

That leaves one slot with a few players that have yet to prove they have the Academy's love yet this season: Hilary Swank for “The Homesman” (she's had false starts in the past with “Amelia” and “Conviction”), Shailiene Woodley for “The Fault in Our Stars” (major concerns Academy will see it as just a teen melodrama), Emily Blunt for “Into the Woods” (will it feel like a leading role?) and, yes, Aniston. Among other candidates for the fifth slot, Gugu Mbatha-Raw will probably have to make due with a Globe nod for either “Belle” or “Beyond the Lights”; Amy Adams might find HFPA love for “Big Eyes” but it's certainly not Oscar-worthy; and Marion Cotillard is once again fantastic in “Two Days, One Night,” but if they didn't nominate her for “Rust and Bone” how can anyone trust they'll reward her for an even smaller Dardenne brothers movie? Frankly, that's your field right now, and why despite the naysayers, Aniston has a legit shot.


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