Following her 2012 New York Film Critics Circle Award win for Best Actress, Rachel Weisz is fast becoming an Oscar front-runner for her performance in "The Deep Blue Sea."
Based on the 1952 play by Terence Rattigan, the film tells the story of Hester Collyer (Weisz), a woman in a passionless marriage (Weisz) who has an affair with a Royal Air Force pilot (Tom Hiddleson).
It's surprising that Weisz is generating awards season buzz for a film that was released in March, around the time that studios typically dump low-profile projects.
"Listen, I’m more shocked, more surprised than anyone," Weisz told the Daily Mail following her win. "It came out of nowhere."
Following the film's debut, several top critics praised Weisz's performance--some comparing it to her Oscar-winning turn in the 2005 drama "The Constant Gardener."
"In the face of Weisz's magnificence, it's impossible to dismiss 'The Deep Blue Sea' as dated and creaky," Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said. "Weisz makes it timeless."
"…it is difficult to imagine 'Deep Blue Sea' without the all-out work of Weisz, who lives this character with every fiber of her being," Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turner said. "Hester's love never feels less than genuine and powerful, allowing us to experience how difficult it truly is to exist between the devil and the deep blue sea."
Despite the acclaim, "The Deep Blue Sea" was largely forgotten about and pulled in just over $1 million at the box office. Yet following Weisz's Film Critics Award win, the film's leading lady is getting some new found attention.
New York Magazine's David Edelstein has named Weisz's work the "Film Performance of the Year."
"It’s hard to call an Academy Award–winning actress 'undersung,' yet I think we take Rachel Weisz for granted." Edelstein said this month. "How else to explain the swift disappearance of Terence Davies’s ravishing 'The Deep Blue Sea' with its to-die-for lead performance?"
"Rachel Weisz gives the performance of her life — and the great woman’s performance of 2012 — in 'The Deep Blue Sea'" said Mike LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Within the last few years, most of the actresses that have won the Film Critics Circle Award have gone on to receive Oscar nominations. Meryl Streep took home the award for "Julia & Julia" in 2009 and went on to receive a Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards. In 2010, Annette Bening received the award for "The Kids Are All Right" and later earned an Oscar nod for the role. Streep was honored with the award again in 2011 for "The Iron Lady" prior to scoring the Best Actress Oscar.
A rare exception is Sally Hawkins, who received the award for "Happy-Go-Lucky" in 2007 but was shut out of the Oscar race.
Though the odds are in her favor, when it comes to the 2013 Oscars, Weisz isn't a shoe-in for a Best Actress nomination.
As of now, it looks as though the only actresses that are sure bets are Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty"), Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook"), and Marion Cotillard ("Rust and Bone"). That could change following the debut of "The Impossible," which is said to feature a riveting performance by Naomi Watts. Other actresses that have been circling the category include Keira Knightley ("Anna Karenina") and Emmanuel Riva ("Amour").
The 2013 Oscars nominations will be announced on Jan. 10. The ceremony is scheduled to air on Feb. 24.