Eye on the Oscars: The Actress

It’s often in the frames between the dialogue where some of this year’s breakout actresses really shine.

In “Ginger & Rosa” Sally Potter’s visually intimate portrayal of friendship set amidst the colliding worlds of a liberating sexual revolution tempered by a confining Cold War paranoia in early 1960s’ London, Elle Fanning’s cherubic face spans from carefree innocence to fear and betrayal in an explosive culminating final emotional outburst.

Emayatzy Corinealdi’s pixie-cut hair-framed face registers a range of complex thoughts and feelings as she takes on the weight of a life radically detoured when her husband is incarcerated in “Middle of Nowhere.”

And a buoyant, confident young Quvenzhane Wallis electrically vibrates every scene as the imaginative Southern Bayou child Hushpuppy in this year’s indie hit “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

For the 14-year-old Fanning, who began her acting career when she was 2, “Ginger & Rosa” marks her first strides into more nuanced mature performances.

“This was a role I really felt ready for,” says Fanning whose previous pics include “Super 8″ and “We Bought a Zoo.” “I saw it as a challenge to play Ginger, who goes through this roller coaster of emotions.”

To help her prepare, British auteur Potter devised a unique rehearsal process for Fanning and Alice Englert (who plays best friend Rosa).

“She would ask us to go through the script by just saying what we thought,” says Fanning.”It was a great way to really understand the subtext of our characters.”

For Corinealdi, playing Ruby in director Ava DuVernay’s meditative “Middle of Nowhere” was the breakout role she had been hoping for.

“I was never keen to just take on any part,” says Corinealdi, who moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago to pursue her acting career. “There are a lot of stereotypical roles out there for African-American women, but this was something that didn’t feel compromised in any way.”

“Ruby has this inner strength. A lot of the story has to do with what is going on in the inside,” Corinealdi says. “You see what she is thinking and feeling in this very difficult situation. The silence almost became another character.”

For now life for the Louisiana school girl has changed little since her remarkable star turn in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” where she beat out 4,000 hopefuls for the role.

“School is the same. Nothing has really changed,” giggles the 9-year-old Wallis during a phone interview. But it was her pivotal role that propelled “Beasts” from a Sundance sensation to a summer box office hit that has earned more than $11 million, while also earning awards chatter for Wallis.

“I would be really excited if I did get that golden man,” she admits. “I will probably be crying.”

Lead Actress Contenders >>

Supporting Actress Contenders >>
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