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Best Actress – Judi Dench, “Iris”

Film: Iris

Previous wins for role: None

Previous Oscar wins/nominations:
Nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Chocolat (2000)
Won for Best Supporting Actress, Shakespeare In Love (1998)
Nominated for Best Actress, Mrs. Brown (1997)

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Character bio: Dench portrays the brilliant British writer Iris Murdoch in her later years. One of the literary world’s most celebrated authors, Murdoch was a fiery spirit well ahead of her time, but was unfortunately stricken with Alzheimer’s disease in the last few years of her life. With the loving support of her husband of 40 years, John Bayley, she struggled to remember her life and her work before it was erased forever by the disease.

Oscar odds: Britain’s reigning queen of stage and screen is an old pro at this Oscar thing by now. This is Dench’s fourth nomination in five years, having won just once for Shakespeare In Love–a part so small many questioned the validity of her nod. Small role notwithstanding, Dench stamped an indelible impression on the Academy as the elder Queen Elizabeth I. This year, however, Dench will most likely be overshadowed by her other over-40 competition–Sissy Spacek. Still, Dench is raring to go at 67; she’ll be back. —Kit Bowen

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