Now... for you filmgoers out there: You may actually know these next ladies better than the ones in the musical category. I'm not sure why so many fine Broadway actors seem to be restricted to guestspots on Law & Order but no one has hired me as a casting director so I can't guess who will fix the system. But, anyway, in this particular category some names will be very familiar to filmgoers as well.
CHERRY JONES as "Sister Aloysius" in Doubt
Possible Campaign Angle: A true modern theater star giving a much buzzed about turn. Trust me, you'd be hypnotized. This is her fourth nomination.
Why You Know Who She Is: Frequent appearances in character roles in Hollywood pictures like Signs, Erin Brockovich, Oceans 12, The Village, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The Horse Whisperer, The Perfect Storm and Cradle Will Rock. Plus she's an outspoken gay activist --If you saw her, you'd recognize her.
Pros: Genuine powerhouse stage performer.
Con: She's won already for The Heiress
LAURA LINNEY as "Patricia" in Sight Unseen
Possible Campaign Angle: Great performer. Plus she's not slumming on Broadway for attention. She returns every couple of years in between films despite being in demand in Hollywood.
Why You Know Who She Is: Oscar nominated turns in You Can Count on Me and Kinsey.
Pros: Great reviews. What do you expect? Didn't you read the words "Laura" and "Linney" above?
Con: Ancient history having played its limited run last summer.
MARY LOUISE PARKERas "Rachel" in Reckless
Possible Campaign Angle: "It's just an honor to be nominated"
Why You Know She Is: Billy Crudup's ex (famously dumped for Claire Danes while she was pregnant with Billy's child). Recent Golden Globe win for Angels in America and Tony win for Proof. Most well known film role is probably still within Fried Green Tomatoes
Pros: A marvelous stage actor.
Con: Revival closed after only 77 performances.
PHYLICIA RASHADas "Aunt Ester" in Gem of the Ocean
Possible Campaign Angle: She won last year for A Raisin in the Sun. "It's just an honor to be nominated"
Why You Know Who She Is: Many years as the Mrs. in TV's beloved Cosby Show
Pros: Aunt Ester is a crucial character in August Wilson's 10 play cycle, which documents the African-American experience decade by decade, but this is the first time Ester has appeared in one of the plays.
Con: The play closed after only 72 performances.
KATHLEEN TURNER as "Martha" in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Possible Campaign Angle: Her best performance in years. She's made the NYC stage her home after Hollywood kissed her goodbye.
Why You Know Who She Is: La Turner was an 80s film superstar. Like Martha, her character in Woolf,she was always more than a match for her male co-stars who've included Michael Douglas (Romancing the Stone, The War of the Roses, Jewel of the Nile) Nicolas Cage (Peggy Sue Got Married) Jack Nicholson (Prizzi's Honor) and William Hurt (Body Heat)
Pros: Great performance. Legendary Role.
Con: Virginia Woolfis losing momentum and Doubt is gaining given the Pulitzer.
Who will win?
I think Cherry Jones has a comfortable lead, given that she's an important stage actress and that Doubt is a hit with audiences and critics. The only possible spoiler is Kathleen Turner for her savage and boozed-up star turn as Martha. This role gave Uta Hagen her Tony and Liz Taylor her second Oscar. It's not impossible.