Why she will win: As a stroke patient looking helplessly on as her body progressively fails her, Riva’s performance carries both an emotional wallop and a high degree of technical difficulty. The category’s oldest ever nominee at 85, she’ll impress even those who don’t remember her New Wave salad days.
Best scene: Trying to explain a simple recollection to her daughter, Anne is visibly angered as her spoken words turn to gibberish. The chasm between internal thought and external communication is insurmountable.
Critic’s quote: “Riva is nothing short of astonishing. The 85-year-old manages the technical demands of her role with devastating skill, creating and then uncreating a remarkable woman whose inner protest at each new theft of her remaining dignity never disappears,” says Tim Robey, the (London) Telegraph.