"It's really shocking and lovely," the Golden Globe nominee tells PEOPLE

By Dahvi Shira
Updated January 15, 2012 12:00 PM
Credit: Jemal Countess/Filmmagic

With a year that included starring with Brad Pitt in Tree of Life, and earning a Golden Globe nod for The Help, Jessica Chastain – who was a relative unknown this time last year – is having the time of her life.

“It’s such an exciting [time],” the actress, 30, told PEOPLE at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. “I’m having an out-of-body experience right now. It’s really shocking and lovely.”

But as of a week ago, she still hadn’t found the all-important gown for one of her biggest walks down the red carpet.

“I’m narrowing it down,” she said of her dress selection for Sunday’s Globes, adding, “It’s very, very exciting. I don’t know yet, but hopefully it will be beautiful.”

But it seems the excitement for Chastain has only just begun. She has a handful of films in the works for 2012, including Tar, co-starring James Franco, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis.