Academy Award for Best Actress

​Oscars 2016: Take our Best Actress poll

Which of this year's nominees for the Best Actress Academy Award do you think should take home the Oscar?

Check out below the interviews and clips of each nominated performance; then, vote in our poll at the end of this article!

Cate Blanchett, "Carol"

Blanchett plays an elegant, middle-aged wife and mother undergoing divorce proceedings because of her infidelity with a lesbian. Determined not to live a lie, but also wary of any appearance of "immorality" which might jeopardize maintaining custody of her daughter, she hesitantly embarks on a romantic relationship with another young woman, Therese (Rooney Mara).

The script, adapted fro a Patricia Highsmith novel, was originally written nearly two decades ago. "I'd been sitting with the idea of playing Carol for a long time; there were [enough] layers of sediment collected about the character that by the time we shot I didn't have to think about it, " she told Rolling Stone. "What Rooney and I both loved - and it was built into the script - is that there are all these pregnant silences between Therese and Carol. Every word, every situation is incredibly loaded."

This is Blanchett's seventh Academy Award nomination. She has previously won two Oscars, for Best Actress ("Blue Jasmine") and Best Supporting Actress ("The Aviator").

Watch a clip of Blanchett with Sarah Paulson in "Carol":

Brie Larson, "Room"

Larson plays a young woman kidnapped by a deranged rapist and held prisoner for years in a tiny backyard shed. It is there she gives birth to a son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay), whom she protects from the dire reality of their situation until, she believes, it is time to attempt an escape.

In describing how she prepared for her performance, Larson told "Sunday Morning, " "I went on a very small, rigid diet. Started working out with a trainer, in order to wear out my body and gain muscle. I had to stay out of the sun for, like, three months before we started shooting.

"And every day, I just felt like I was getting closer and closer, to her."

Larson won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA Awards for her performance. This is her first Oscar nomination.

Watch a clip of Larson and Tremblay in "Room":

Jennifer Lawrence, "Joy"

Lawrence plays a divorced mother driven to recreate herself as a TV shopping channel star selling her own household inventions, fighting numerous obstacles along the way.

"Joy" is Lawrence's third film with director David O. Russell, who constantly gives his actors music to listen to, to deepen their characterizations. "I always think it's annoying, but it's necessary, " Lawrence told NPR. "One time we were flying to New York together and I was fast asleep on a flight and all of a sudden there was an earbud shoved into my ear with music from 'Raging Bull' and I was like, 'What the ...?!'

"But basically everything David and I argue about ... that I think is unnecessary - 'David, I don't want to talk about the scene. I don't want you to go through the whole movie with me, I know what the movie is about! Let's go! I don't want to listen to this song' - when I see the movie and I see what he's doing and how he's put everything together, I'm always wrong. It'll always change something in some way that I didn't know."

A Golden Globe winner for "Joy, " Lawrence received her fourth Oscar nomination. She won Best Supporting Actress for "Silver Linings Playbook."

Watch a clip of Lawrence with Bradley Cooper in "Joy":

Charlotte Rampling, "45 Years"

In the film "45 Years, " about a marriage suddenly destabilized as the couple approaches a landmark anniversary, Rampling plays the wife who confronts her husband (Tom Courtney) about an old lover who haunts their marriage.

"When I'm doing a scene, it's the real feeling that I'm feeling, " Rampling told "Sunday Morning." "It's not me playing at being Kate feeling that. It's absolutely me feeling that in the instant, because I know what that feeling is like. I know what Kate's feeling."

It is Rampling's first Academy Award nomination. She won Best Actress from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, as well as at the European Film Awards and the Berlin Film Festival.

Watch a clip of Rampling and Courtney in "45 Years":

Saoirse Ronan, "Brooklyn"

In this sweet period romantic drama, Ronan plays Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant who lands in 1950s New York City, and who finds her homesickness tempered by a thoughtful, working-class Italian who sweeps her off her feet at a church dance. But in returning to Ireland on a visit, she finds her family and friends - including a dashing rugby player - reaching out to keep her there.

The story, adapted from Colm Toibin's novel, was similar to Ronan's own family history (her parents were Irish immigrants in New York City, where Saoirse was born, before they all returned to Dublin). That familiarity made the character even more difficult for Ronan, as she told The Hollywood Reporter: "There was nowhere to hide. I wasn't in heaven, I wasn't a vampire, I wasn't an assassin. This was the hardest thing for me, to be able to play someone whose identity was so similar to mine. I mean, this felt like it was my identity, and I was still kind of coming to terms with that myself."

Ronan won Best Actress from the New York Film Critics Circle and several other critics groups for "Brooklyn." She was previously nominated, at age 13, for Best Supporting Actress for "Atonement."

Watch a clip of Ronan with Emory Cohen in "Brooklyn":

Take our poll: Who should win the Oscar for Best Actress?

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Winners of this year's Academy Awards will be announced on Sunday, February 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood. The show will be hosted by Chris Rock.

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