Jessica Chastain plays a member of the elite team of military operatives…
Jessica Chastain was among the five women nominated for this year's Screen Actors Guild lead actress award for her starring role as an obsessive CIA analyst in "Zero Dark Thirty." It marks the second time in two years Chastain, 35, has been nominated by the actors' body, as she was previously recognized for her work in 2011's "The Help."
While she'll be going up against Marion Cotillard for the French actress' part in "Rust and Bone," Helen Mirren for "Hitchcock" and Naomi Watts for "The Impossible," Chastain's biggest competition might come from Jennifer Lawrence, the 22-year old star of "Silver Linings Playbook." Her portrayal of a recently widowed woman has generated considerable acclaim since the movie opened last month.
"Finding a great female character to portray is a very fulfilling experience, and I had that with 'Silver Linings Playbook,'" Lawrence said in a statement that also referenced one of the film's most intentionally awkward moments. "So I guess all that terrible dancing was worth it?"
PHOTOS: 2013 SAG Award nominees
The five actresses were chosen over other potential nominees including Keira Knightley for her role in "Anna Karenina" and Emmanuelle Riva for "Amour." The young Quvenzhane Wallis also failed to receive a nomination; however, her performance in the film "Beasts of the Southern Wild," wasn't eligible because the movie was made outside of SAG's low-budget agreement.
Cotillard, 37, plays a killer-whale wrangler tragically injured in an on-the-job accident in the low-budget love story "Rust and Bone."
“I fell in love so deeply with this character, so maybe it sounds weird, but that the first person I thought of when I received the call was her, even though she doesn’t exist," said Cotillard, speaking from Paris. "I was so moved by her, from my first reading to when I saw the movie on-screen. I have a very special connection to her. She moves me. So in a way, she’s the first person I’m sharing this nomination with.”
Mirren, 67, was nominated by SAG for her role as Alfred Hitchcock's wife Alma Reville in "Hitchcock." She's been nominated numerous times for her roles in television and film, winning twice for "The Queen" and "Gosford Park."
Watts, 44, received her second SAG nomination this morning for her role in Juan Antonio Bayona's tsunami film "The Impossible." She was previously nominated for her role in "21 Grams."
The news came as a surprise to the actress, who was in New York and already had biked her son to school, assuming the nominations had come and gone.
"I actually missed the call," said Watts. "It was nice. I didn't have the angst or the disappointment."
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Watts said she was thrilled to be recognized by fellow actors, "who understand each other and know how it all works." And though she was disappointed that her costars Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland were not recognized for their performances in "The Impossible," she was happy see fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman lauded for her role in "The Paperboy."
"I wrote her another fan letter," Watts said. "She blew my mind. She was so crazy good."
For Mirren, who's in Italy for the holidays, finding out the news was a bit more difficult.
"We found out through smoke signals," she quipped, before adding that what the actors are lauding is the good writing that's behind the performance.
"They all understand that the performance comes from the writing and the direction. I was very lucky to be in a film that was so beautifully structured -- it gave me a great stage to strut my stuff."
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