James McAvoy has named Anne Hathaway as his pick to win this year's best actress Oscar for her role in Rachel Getting Married.

Writing as part of Variety's 'Contenders' feature, the Wanted star said Hathaway's performance left him "compelled to watch - sometimes through my fingers".

Jonathan Demme's film sees The Princess Diaries actress as Kym, a habitual substance abuser on weekend release from rehab to attend her sister's titular nuptials.

And with the family already fractured through Kym's past, her return sets the stage for deep-seated tensions to mar the wedding.

For McAvoy, Hathaway's success in allowing the audience to identify with her character - despite her frequently "repellent" behaviour - is the key to her being tipped for an Academy award nomination.

"Anne Hathaway has that indefinable quality of making an audience identify with the character she is playing," he explained.

"At her sister's wedding, Kym constantly behaves like the most important person in the room. It would be so easy to dislike Kym, but Anne makes you feel that her character is perhaps in another room - both mentally and socially, albeit not physically, and therefore her calamitous outburst and limelight stealing seem like an ill-conceived attempt to connect."

The former Shameless star admitted he was moved to tears by a scene of Kym dancing during a post-wedding party.

"I realised that her flailing arms and 'look at me' gusto were the result of a self-conscious and forced attempt to fit in," he said.

"In the end we see her dancing with her eyes closed among a hundred or so people and she is completely alone.

"That is a lot of empathy and understanding to garner from one shot, but Anne gives a performance so open and raw that I could not help but connect with Kym, even if her family was not able to do so."

Rachel Getting Married premiered at the Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival in October.

28/11/2008 05:31:01