Oscars: 'Invisible Woman's' Felicity Jones Jumps Categories (Exclusive)

For her performance as Charles Dickens' mistress in Ralph Fiennes' new film, the 30-year-old now will be pushed in the lead -- not supporting -- actress category.
BBC Films
Felicity Jones in "The Invisible Woman"

In a change of plans, Sony Pictures Classics now will campaign for The Invisible Woman star Felicity Jones in the best actress -- not best supporting actress -- Oscar category, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.

The 30-year-old actress, who first broke through two years ago in Like Crazy, has received the best reviews of anyone associated with Ralph Fiennes' 19th century period-piece costume drama, in which she plays Nelly Ternan, a real woman who was the secret mistress of the great writer Charles Dickens (played by Fiennes himself).

Q&A: Ralph Fiennes Reveals Secrets of Making 'The Invisible Woman'

The Invisible Woman has been screening quite a bit since its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival in early September, at which time Sony suggested Jones would be a supporting actress contender. But I'm told by reliable sources that the studio decided to reconsider its positioning of the actress after an Oct. 9 screening at the New York Film Festival, when conversations with viewers and voters -- as well as with Fiennes and Jones -- suggested that she belonged in the lead actress category. "After all, she is the invisible woman," notes one source. 

As good as Jones is, she doesn't have a clear path to a nomination in either of the two actress categories.

The lead race is packed to the gills with past winners (August: Osage County's Meryl Streep, Blue Jasmine's Cate Blanchett, Gravity's Sandra Bullock, Labor Day's Kate Winslet, Philomena's Judi Dench and Saving Mr. Banks' Emma Thompson), nominees (American Hustle's Amy Adams and The Past's Berenice Bejo) and breakthrough performers (Blue Is the Warmest Color's Adele Exarchopoulos and Short Term 12's Brie Larson).

RELATED: Ralph Fiennes NYFF Tribute Generates Attention for 'Invisible Woman'

The supporting race features newcomer Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) plus A-listers Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels' The Butler), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Scarlett Johansson (Her) and Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club); rising star Naomie Harris (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom); character actresses Sarah Paulson (12 Years a Slave), June Squibb (Nebraska) and Emily Watson (The Book Thief); and past winners of the category Melissa Leo (Prisoners) and Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station).

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg