Oscars 2014: Take our Best Actress poll

This year's best-actress Oscar contenders are quite familiar. Each of the nominees has been working in Hollywood for years. And in every case, their talent just oozes off the screen. But not everyone will walk away with a statuette come Sunday.

A lot of eyes are on Cate Blanchett for her role in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," especially after she picked up wins at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards.

Check out CBS News' interviews and profiles of the stars up for best actress, and then vote in our poll below for whom you think should take home the Oscar.

The Academy Awards will be presented this Sunday in Los Angeles.

Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"

The Oscars are just days away, and a lot of people think Cate Blanchett has a lock on winning best actress for her leading role in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine."

Blanchett grew up in Australia where she started her career in the theater. She's a movie star who does Shakespeare. She's first and foremost a theater actor, winning wild praise for her Hedda Gabler and Blanche Dubois on the stage.

When asked what the hardest part of her job is, Blanchett told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl, "Oh, look. Is it hard? I don't know that it's hard. I'm an actress. I think the most complicated thing -- it's the military maneuver of getting two careers, three children, but that's a working mother's problem, working parents' problem -- that's not the challenge of work. I think in relation to the work, the trickiest thing is beginning."

She added, "I think it's quite a tricky neuro-linguistic process actually to try and make something that another, that a character said, to make it come out through your body and make it seem like that's natural. It's kind of tricking yourself; the confidence trick. Like an athlete does, you have to just say: "I'm just going to start. I'm ready. I'm open. Let's go."

Judi Dench, "Philomena"

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Judi Dench attends the "Philomena" press conference during the 57th BFI London Film Festival on Oct. 16, 2013, in London.
Getty Images

In 1966, actress Judi Dench was honored in Britain as the "most promising newcomer." And she's still at it.

In "Philomena," the Oscar-nominated star has done it again, thrilling audiences and critics. It's based on the true story of an elderly woman searching for her long lost baby son with the help of a hard-bitten journalist.

It was a huge responsibility, said Dench, to play Philomena Lee, who is still alive. Back in the repressed Catholic Ireland of 1951, she got pregnant and was sent in disgrace to the nuns at Sean Ross Abbey, who ran a home for unwed mothers.

Three years later, the nuns gave her baby away to an American couple, who adopted him and took him to the states.

Dench said that the real-life Philomena is "very funny."

"She'll say what she thinks, and she'll laugh about something, and then she- overlaid over that is this wonderful sense of humor, and underneath that is this great depth of what she suffered," Dench told CBS News.


Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"

"Gravity" is one of the most talked-about movies of the past year -- and it's up for 10 Academy Awards, including best picture. Its star Sandra Bullock and director Alfonso Cuaron also both earned Oscar nominations for the film about two astronauts stranded in space.

Cuaron told "CBS This Morning" that when he was casting he was looking for an "immediate accessibility in a character that is very shut off," and was struck by Bullock.

"When I met with Sandra, what struck me was her fearlessness," he said. "And I think that's what combined the whole thing."

However, Bullock had to be convinced to take the role. She told the co-hosts that at the time, she didn't want to work and the "conundrum" for her was she had wanted to work with Cuaron for a long time.

"I wanted to stay home and be with this beautiful, new little person in my life [son Louis]...and I had thought that I had absolutely nothing to offer, nothing at all to offer," she said. "Then here he comes, the person I'd longed to work (with)... So, it was a very difficult sort of crossroads that I found myself at."

Bullock said that it "absolutely" helped her decision that the lead character in "Gravity" was a woman.

"I was shocked that it was written for a woman and the way that it was written, for the woman," said Bullock. "Usually, it gets very soft and ... girly. I love a girly moment, but it didn't have a place in this, nor did they put it in there."

Amy Adams, "American Hustle"

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Actor Amy Adams poses for photographers on the red carpet at the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Opera House on Feb. 16, 2014, in London.
AP

Amy Adams will be in attendance on Sunday with hopes of walking away with her first Academy Award. As Sydney Prosser in the '70s crime drama, Adams had to walk, talk and dress the part. She told CBS News that director David O. Russell did a great job helping the cast members get into character.

"The costumes, the hair, the music -- David plays music on sets, so that helps set the tone. All of it together just helps you take it to a different place," said Adams.

Adams has been nominated for four Academy Awards in her career, but has yet to win. "It doesn't suck," she said. "It beats the alternative. That's what I always say. Ten years ago I was not where I am now. Ten years ago I was really fighting for parts, so to be in this place where people are considering a film I'm in for Oscar contention is really wonderful."

Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County"

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Meryl Streep attends the 86th Academy Awards nominee luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 10, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Getty Images

Meryl Streep is up for best actress this year for her part in "August: Osage Country," which follows a Midwestern family after a tragedy. The honor marks Streep's 18th Academy Award nomination. She previously scored best supporting actress for "Kramer vs. Kramer," and best actress for her parts in "Sophie's Choice" and "The Iron Lady."

On Sunday, she'll have another chance to win. In "August: Osage Country," Streep along Julia Roberts bring mother-daughter drama to the big screen.

"It was proposed to me as Meryl Streep would play Violet. Well I'm no fool," Roberts told CBS News about taking on the role after hearing that Streep had been cast.

"It was terrifying the thought of it and in the end, I think she is a very down-to-earth, very kind person who works very hard," Roberts said of Streep.

Oscars 2014: Best Actress

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